Making Policy Public: Participatory Bureaucracy in American Democracy

New book by Susan L. Moffitt: “This book challenges the conventional wisdom that government bureaucrats inevitably seek secrecy and demonstrates how and when participatory bureaucracy manages the enduring tension between bureaucratic administration and democratic accountability. Looking closely at federal level public participation in pharmaceutical regulation and educational assessments within the context of the vast system of American federal advisory committees, this book demonstrates that participatory bureaucracy supports bureaucratic administration in ways consistent with democratic accountability when it focuses on complex tasks and engages diverse expertise. In these conditions, public participation can help produce better policy outcomes, such as safer prescription drugs. Instead of bureaucracy’s opposite or alternative, public participation can work as its complement.

  • Argues that public participation through FDA drug review advisory committees leads to safer drug experiences on the market: fewer boxed warnings and fewer drug withdrawals
  • Suggests that the American system of public committees is truly vast, involving upwards of 70,000 committee members across 1,000 different committees
  • Details that public committees can be a source of transparency in government operations”