Researcher and Writer in Washington, DC

Mordecai Lee, Congress vs. the Bureaucracy: Muzzling Agency Public Relations

Mordecai Lee Congress vs. the BureaucracyThe current copy of Congress & the Presidency carries my review of this interesting book.

Mordecai Lee describes the more than century-long battle between the legislative and executive branch over when, how, and on what subjects federal agencies may communicate with the public. The book illustrates a classic principal-agent problem—how can one person/organization get another person/organization to do its bidding and not use its discretion otherwise?

Agencies often find value in communicating with the public. Said communications can alter public perceptions of agencies and their activities. This leads to a democratic conundrum: agencies, instead of following the preferences of the representatives of the people, instead encourage the people to change their preferences to cohere with the preferences of agencies.

The full citation is:

Kevin R. Kosar, review of Mordecai Lee, Congress vs. the Bureaucracy: Muzzling Agency Public Relations (University of Oklahoma Press, 2011), Congress & the Presidency, vol. 40, issue 1, January-April 2013, at

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