Good Advice

Information and Policy Making in the White House

978-0-89096-913-7 Cloth
6 x 9 x 0 in
264 pp. 1 table.
Pub Date: 04/01/2000


  • Cloth $39.95 s
The U.S. president has to make difficult, important, and very public decisions every day. We don't expect one person to be an expert in all the areas in which the president has to make decisions. So how do presidents do it? They rely on their staffs to give information and advice.

Good Advice is a systematic study of Jimmy Carter's reign and those who advised him. Daniel E. Ponder discusses the president's policies, the advisors behind each, and how much of that advice ultimately became incorporated into the president's official proposals.

The book's central thesis is that although presidents have tended to centralize policy-making authority in the White House staff, the dynamics of staff participation and consequent policy success vary from issue to issue, consistent with a theoretical framework Ponder calls staff shift. Ponder further analyzes how presidents decide whose advice to take and whose to ignore and the politics behind those decisions.

Ponder examines each of the three major roles of staff advisory—policy directors, facilitators, and monitors—and discusses a "successful" and unsuccessful policy in each. He focuses on the six policy areas of education, youth employment, welfare reform, energy, national health insurance, and civil service reform.

Ponder draws from myriad theoretical and methodological traditions to construct a sophisticated foundation upon which his analysis builds. His development of theoretical insights, backed with exhaustive documentation, contribute to a deeper understanding of the nature of the presidency in its organizational and institutional environments.

For those interested in presidential studies and American politics, this innovative study takes you into the Oval Office as it explains the process from information- and advice-giving to policy making in the presidency.

Joseph V. Hughes Jr. and Holly O. Hughes Series on the Presidency and Leadership

Published by Texas A&M University Press