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Coming Soon

You Report to Me

Accountability for the Failing Administrative State

Available 10/22/2024

Publication Details

Trade Paper / 274 pages
ISBN: 9781641774116
Available: 10/22/2024

Coming Soon
You Report to Me
Accountability for the Failing Administrative State

“Resistance” to the Trump presidency within the civil service drew media attention, but it was only part of a larger problem: a federal bureaucracy that often goes its own way, contrary to the policies of elected leadership. In this insider’s account, David L. Bernhardt reveals how the bureaucratic swamp really operates and how unaccountable power has been concentrated deep within the administrative state, resulting in dysfunction.

Executive agencies were created to implement legislation and presidential directives, yet career civil servants use them to advance their own agendas instead. Congress often writes laws broadly, letting subject-matter experts at administrative agencies fill in the details with regulations. Then, agency employees sometimes substitute their own policy preferences for actual statutory or regulatory language. They may also fail to appreciate that their authority is delegated from an official who answers to the president. Bernhardt gives examples of federal employees undermining the administration’s policies simply by refusing to work on a task, slow-walking it, or doing a subpar job.

Administrative agencies have further gained power through judicial deference to an agency’s own interpretation of a statute when its enforcement action is challenged. Courts essentially abdicate their role of interpreting the law, leaving citizens with little recourse against penalties or prohibitions. Both legislative and judicial powers have thus been shifted to the executive branch, where they are exercised without adequate political oversight.

Drawing on his experiences working under two administrations, Bernhardt explains how President Trump’s enabling leadership showed a path for reining in the administrative state. He calls on political leadership to turn off autopilot and take control of their agencies, and on Congress and the judiciary to assert their constitutional authority, before an unaccountable federal bureaucracy destroys the Founders’ vision of government by consent of the governed.

About the Author

DAVID BERNHARDT is the only person to ever be confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as secretary, deputy secretary, and solicitor of the Department of the Interior in its 173+-year history.

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