Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yackee advises on limiting 'capture' of regulating agencies

Professor Susan Yackee is advising members of Congress and federal agency officials this week about legislation to help prevent powerful special interests from "capturing" and controlling federal agencies that regulate their activities.

Susan Webb Yackee speaks to federal officials during a dinner on Capitol Hill.
Susan Webb Yackee speaks to federal officials during a dinner on Capitol Hill. Also shown are U.S. Department of the Interior deputy secretary David Hayes and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

She met with Senate staffers on Capitol Hill, several members of the U.S. House and officials from the Interior Department, Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Sentencing Commission, as well as Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

Yackee advised Whitehouse before he introduced the Regulatory Capture Prevention Act, which received a hearing in the Senate. The bill would require regulatory agencies to report to a public web site the name and affiliation of each party who comments on an agency regulation; whether that party affected the regulatory process; and whether that party is an economic, non-economic or citizen interest.

"We know that federal bureaucrats listen to interest groups and tend to favor the dominant side," says Yackee, an expert on federal agency rulemaking. "Federal agency officials respond when they receive strong, loud and united messages from interest groups. The volume of the interest group comments on either side of an issue matters to the content of final agency regulations."

A version of this article appears in the fall 2011 La Follette Notes newsletter for alumni and friends

Senator introduces regulatory bills that draw on Yackee's expertise, July 18, 2011, La Follette School News