Table of Contents

Comparative Administrative Law

Comparative Administrative Law

Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series

Edited by Susan Rose-Ackerman and Peter L. Lindseth

This research handbook is a comprehensive overview of the field of comparative administrative law. The specially commissioned chapters in this landmark volume represent a broad, multi-method approach combining perspectives from history and social science with more strictly legal analyses. Comparisons of the United States, continental Europe, and the British Commonwealth are complemented by contributions that focus on Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The work aims to stimulate comparative research on public law, reaching across countries and scholarly disciplines.

Chapter 16: Understanding Independent Accountability Agencies

John M. Ackerman

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, constitutional and administrative law


John M. Ackerman* Over the past two decades there has been a veritable explosion in the number and power of independent accountability agencies throughout the world (Ackerman 2010). The spread of electoral institutes, ombudsmen, anti-corruption agencies and other oversight institutions has paralleled the equally important upsurge in independent regulatory agencies and new constitutional courts (Jordana and Levi Faur 2006, SCJN 2008). This chapter offers a theoretical approach to understanding the present conditions and future potential of these new independent accountability agencies. It also provides an overview of the different ways in which countries have tried to incorporate these institutions into their respective constitutional frameworks. There is an extensive literature on regulatory agencies and constitutional courts that is helpful in gaining an initial analytical hold on accountability agencies (Stone Sweet 2000, Rose-Ackerman 2007). Nevertheless, it is a mistake to import these analyses wholesale. Independent accountability agencies have their own institutional dynamics and must be understood on their own terms (Vázquez Irizarry 2007). Why are such agencies created? What are their fundamental strengths and weaknesses? What are the most important factors that explain their effectiveness or failure at fulfilling their constitutional mandates? I try to respond to these questions in the first section of this chapter. In the second section, I offer the initial results of a global survey of autonomous agencies in the constitutions of the world. The academic literature includes numerous case studies of specific agencies and countries (Schedler 1999). In addition, there are important international policy networks that...

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