The Politics of Agency Death : Ministers and the Survival of Government Agencies in a Parliamentary System

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-784
Journal / PublicationBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number4
Online published20 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


This article extends the theory of government agency survival from separation of powers to parliamentary government systems. It evaluates expectations of increased risk to agencies following transitions in government, prime minister or departmental minister, and from incongruence between the originally establishing and currently overseeing political executive. Using survival models for UK executive agencies between 1989 and 2012, the study finds that politics trumps performance. Ministers seek to make their mark by terminating agencies created by previous ministers, which is reinforced by high media attention to the agency. Performance against agency targets is not associated with higher termination risk, and replacement agencies do not perform any better than those that were terminated. Financial autonomy provides some protection for agencies that are less dependent on budgetary appropriations.

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