Destroying or Deploying the ‘Deep State’: Challenges to Federal Agencies

Destroying or Deploying the ‘Deep State’: Challenges to Federal Agencies

Friday, September 18

President Donald Trump came into office vowing to disrupt the “deep state” and to “drain the swamp” of the federal bureaucracy. This panel will discuss how the capacity and professionalism of the federal government has fared over the past four years, assessing the extent to which it has been weakened or deployed for political purposes. Specific agencies will be discussed, such as the Post Office, the Food and Drug Administration, and Health and Human Services. Panelists will discuss developments in historical perspective, comparing them to what ensued under previous presidential administrations, and to the extent damage has occurred, consider what it will take to repair it.



Daniel Carpenter is Allie S. Freed Professor of Government at Harvard University. He is the author of award-winning books, including Reputation and Power: Organizational Image and Pharmaceutical Regulation at the FDA (Princeton, 2010), and The Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy: Reputations, Networks and Policy Innovation in Executive Agencies, 1862-1928 (Princeton, 2001).

Jamila Michener is Associate Professor of Government at Cornell University. She studies the politics of poverty, race and public policy in the United States. She is the author of Fragmented Democracy: Medicaid, Federalism, and Unequal Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and numerous scholarly articles. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, and many other popular outlets.

Donald Moynihan is the inaugural McCourt Chair at the McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University and Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford and Aarhus University. His research examines how to improve how government works. He is the author of Administrative Burden: Policymaking by Other Means andBehavioral Public Performance: How People Make Sense of Government Metrics.


Suzanne Mettler is John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions in the Government Department at Cornell University. Her most recent book is Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy, with Robert C. Lieberman. She is a founding member of the American Democracy Collaborative.