• Print this page

Czars in the White House

The Rise of Policy Czars as Presidential Management Tools
Justin S. Vaughn and José D. Villalobos
An empirical analysis of the role of czars as tools for making and implementing policy

Description

When Barack Obama entered the White House, he followed a long-standing precedent for the development and implementation of major policies by appointing administrators—so-called policy czars—charged with directing the response to the nation’s most pressing crises. Demonstrating that the creation of policy czars is a strategy for combating partisan polarization and navigating the federal government’s complexity, Vaughn and Villalobos offer a sober, empirical analysis of what precisely constitutes a czar and what role they have played in the modern presidency.
 
Photo: President Bush participates in an event with his Cabinet with newly sworn-in Director of National Drug Control Policy, Secretary William Bennett, March 13, 1989. © George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
 
“Justin Vaughn and José Villalobos have given us the first effort at a comprehensive appraisal of the work these czars have done. This book is an excellent effort to fill a major gap in the scholarship of both the presidency and public policy.”
Congress & the Presidency
 
“. . . the first in-depth study of this growing bureaucratic phenomenon. This work is essential reading for all students of the American presidency and fills a large gap in the study of the executive branch and public administration . . . Essential.”
Choice Reviews
 
“In this well-written and analytically sophisticated book, Justin Vaughn and José Villalobos explain the widely discussed, but little understood, role of administrative czars in the presidency. They document how recent presidents have made both wise and unwise use of policy czars to coordinate major priorities. In drawing lessons from this history, they argue that czars, or something very much like them, are essential tools that presidents must occasionally use to lead the fragmented executive branch. If you want to understand how presidents can get their policies implemented effectively, this book provides a valuable guide.”
—James P. Pfiffner, George Mason University
 
“Vaughn and Villalobos have produced a masterly work here. This is an objective, clear-headed effort, deeply grounded in the existing scholarship, to scrutinize a little understood source of change in how presidents have adapted White House structures to advance their policy agendas.”
—Nancy Kassop, State University of New York at New Paltz
 
“Engagingly written, solidly anchored in scholarship and informed by systematic empirical analysis, Czars in the White House contributes to a deeper understanding of the opportunities and constraints of increasing presidential reliance on policy ‘czars.’ The volume blends balanced examination of these coordinators over the last five decades with insights into whether and how such individuals achieve substantive policy accomplishments.”
—Karen M. Hult, Virginia Tech

“At last, a scholarly and neutral investigation of presidential czars through Obama’s second term. The authors provide in-depth case studies of some of the most important White House czars in the modern managerial presidency. Using the combined perspectives of political science and public administration, they avoid generalities and ideological prisms. Instead, they present detailed narratives of the successes and failures of those czars. In particular, the authors must be complimented for going where most of academe is afraid to go; namely, they provide substantive conclusions whether a particular czar or czar office was successful or not and—even more importantly—why. The final chapter, with their identification of the universal criteria necessary for a successful czar based on all their case studies, is a must-read, not only for scholars interested in the subject, but for all presidential transition teams.”
—Mordecai Lee, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
 
“This engaging book has a timely premise: that the ‘czars’ appointed by presidents may be solutions to a managerial dilemma, rather than unconstitutional monstrosities. The chief executive faces the daunting task of coordinating an enormous, fragmented executive branch to leverage both good advice and responsive implementation. Vaughn and Villalobos provide a valuable guide to an increasingly visible tool presidents have used (not always successfully) to square that circle.”
—Andrew Rudalevige, Bowdoin College
 
“Vaughn and Villalobos provide a timely and instructive analysis about the use of presidential czars, their role in governing and policymaking, and how such positions can be best utilized by future presidents. This topic has needed an in-depth scholarly perspective, and as such, this book provides an important contribution to the field of presidential studies.”
—Lori Cox Han, Chapman University
 
“To understand the president’s executive power, one must examine presidential authority to act to foster bureaucratic responsiveness. To understand this important strength, one must read this book. Vaughn and Villalobos expertly weave a relevant theoretical design with an impressive historical narrative to make the case for the central role that czars play in modern executive politics and policy. This book is a fundamental, contemporary companion to any study of executive power.”
 —Brandon Rottinghaus, University of Houston
 
 
Justin S. Vaughn is Associate Professor of Political Science at Boise State University.
 
José D. Villalobos is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Praise / Awards

  • "… the first in-depth study of this growing bureaucratic phenomenon. This work is essential reading for all students of the American presidency and fills a large gap in the study of the executive branch and public administration…Essential."
    --Choice Reviews
  • "Justin Vaughn and Jose Villalobos have given us the first effort at a comprehensive appraisal of the work these czars have done. This book is an excellent effort to fill a major gap in the scholarship of both the presidency and public policy."
    --Congress & the Presidency

Look Inside

News, Reviews, Interviews

Listen: Justin Vaughn on the New Books Network podcast (Link) | 9/07/2015

Product Details

  • 248 pages.
  • 5 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2015
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-12111-3


  • PDF: Adobe Digital Editions e-book (DRM Protected)

Add to Cart
  • $29.95 U.S.

  • Kindle

Add to Cart
  •  

Choosing any of the above format options will take you to the appropriate e-retailer to complete your purchase. Pricing may vary by individual e-retailer. Please see e-retailer site for purchasing information.

For more information about our Digital Products, including reading systems and accessible formats, visit our Digital Products page.


Related Products


Add to Cart
  • $75.00 U.S.


Pre-Order
  • $29.95 U.S.

nothing

Keywords

  • czar, presidential power, imperial presidency, constitution, policy, coordination, management, administration, delegation, public expectations, expectations gap

nothing
nothing

Stay connected