PPE 202: The Public Political Process

PPE 202: The Public Political Process
Instructor: John Gasper
Office: 313 Claudia Cohen Hall
Email : [email protected]
Office Hours: Monday 3:00-5:00 and by appointment
James Katz
[email protected]
Wed 3-4 & Thur 12-1
Emma Edelman [email protected] Thur 12-1 & Fri 2-3
Julia Cohen
[email protected]
Thur 3-4 & Fri 11-12
Required Texts:
• Donald F. Kettl and James W. Fesler, The Politics of the Administrative Process, 4th
Edition, CQ Press, 2008.
• Arthur M. Okun, Equality and efficiency, the big tradeoff. The Brookings Institution,
Suggested Texts:
• Max Bazerman, Judgment in Managerial Decision Making. John Wiley Press, 2002
• James Q. Wilson, Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It.
Basic Books, 1989.
Course Description
This course is intended to introduce you to the economic, ethical and political perspectives behind administrative policy-making. A main goal of the course is to understand in
broad strokes how policy choices and outcomes are mediated and influenced by individuals,
organizations and political institutions.
This course will focus heavily on decision making within these organizations. Those
decisions are constrained by limits on available information and the strategic choices of others
with conflicting goals, but also by limited ability to process information that is available for
any decision. The substantive concerns and assumptions of this course lie in the intersection
of psychology, economics and political science.
We will begin the course by examining the American political institutions where policy
is chosen, which is done by a combination of Congress, the President, the courts and –
ultimately – the voters. The next half of the course will focus on where policy is actually
made, the bureaucracy. Therefore one goal of this course is to provide a richer view of
both why and how the Federal bureaucracy “does what it does.” Moreover, aside from the
practical consideration of affecting public policy, an understanding of how the bureaucracy
works is key to understanding how Congress and the President interact with one another, as
well as understanding why some Presidential initiatives succeed while others fail, even with
the support of Congress.
Attendance and participation
It is easy to take the attitude that your job (and mine) is accomplished with your mastery
of the material of the course, and consequently that I need not bother with whether you
show up for class. Realistically, we know that in general the vast majority of students who
feel they don’t need to come to class are mistaken, but only find that out, to their shock, as
they do poorly on exams. I will expect you in class on a regular basis, but ultimately the
choice is yours. However, this not an “easy” course, and a large part of the lecture material
will not come from the text. The exams will cover both sets of material.
Will I enforce attendance in lecture? No, but I will make an effort to get to know you.
It’s also fair to say that those who sit near the front and participate in class will get the
benefit of the doubt when their grades are below a borderline.
Cell phones and laptops
I understand that many of you will use a laptop to take notes during the lecture. This is
fine. I am also willing to bet that many of you will check your email, the news, and perhaps
even be brazen enough to IM during the lecture. This is not fine. The TAs for the class will
be attending lectures and will keep an eye out.
I also ask that you turn off your cell phone during class. If there is an emergency and
you might need to be contacted, please talk to me before class. Otherwise there should be
no reason to hear a phone ring or see someone send a text.
Course Logistics
The teaching assistants’ have two main responsibilities during the course: grading quizzes/exams
and reviewing information / stimulating discussion during the recitations. They should be
your first point of contact for grading issues. Of course, I will be happy to serve as an arbiter
if there are any questions or disputes about grading. I believe in fair grading, and to make
the process single-blind, you will use your Penn ID instead of your name on all exams.
This course has a blackboard website, which should set up and functioning. Handouts,
updated syllabi and announcements will be posted there and you are responsible for checking
the site regularly.
I hope you will meet with me during the semester, especially if you have questions about
the course material. I welcome questions during class: if you have a question or a comment,
please interrupt me! I will generally pause after each slide and ask if there are any questions
– please feel encouraged to raise questions during class. The course is too large for a true
discussion, but I hope you will feel free to raise questions if you are confused or want me to
talk more about some topic. There is a lot of material in the course – please help me teach
you what you want to know!
I strongly encourage you to review the University’s policies regarding academic honesty. To
put it simply, my policy is that cheating of any kind will not be tolerated. If you have any
question, please feel free to ask me. A good online source for the academic integrity policy
is: http://www.upenn.edu/academicintegrity/
Each students grade for the course will be based on the following:
1. Weekly online quizzes 30%
2. Midterm exam 30%
3. Comprehensive final exam 35%
4. Participation 5%
Two points regarding quizzes: (1) your lowest quiz score will be dropped when calculating
your final grade. (2) to replace your second lowest quiz score, you may bring in an article
from a major news outlet (e.g., the New York Times) with a 21 to 34 of a page of discussion
points and why it relates to a current theme of the course. You should email the article and
your write-up to TA.
Weekly readings and course outline
Government, Markets & Democracy
The logic of group choice
The logic of group choice (part 2)
The Administrative state
The Administrative state (cont.)
No class – Yom Kippur
Institutions of policy making: Congress
Congress & the bureaucracy
The Executive & the bureaucracy
Interagency coordination
Midterm exam
No class – Fall break.
People on the ground: Civil service & leadership
Decision Making
Decision Making: Principles and Agents
Decision Making: Delegation and drift
Decision Making: Psychological constraints
Bureaucratic Institutions: Beliefs
Bureaucratic Institutions: Culture
Regulation and the courts
Oversight and the Inspector General
No class – turkey day
Equity vs. Efficiency
Equity vs. Efficiency
Equity vs. Efficiency
Final Review – Last day of class
KF 1 / handout (LGS)
SB Handouts
SB Handouts
KF 2
KF 3
Online Handouts
Online Handouts
KF 6
KF 7
KF 8 & 9
KF 10
Online readings
Online readings
Online readings
KF 13
KF 14
Online Readings