Public Support for Sale: Government Spending and Public Approval of Federal Agency Performance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Federal agencies award thousands of grants and contracts each year. Although we have considerable insight into the implications of these expenditures for politicians, we know little about their consequences for agencies. I develop a theory that links agency spending in citizens’ states to their support of agency performance, with the expectation that this relationship is conditioned by citizen–agency ideological congruence. I contend that agency spending serves as an information shortcut for citizens when evaluating agencies because it is often visible in a way that other agency activities, such as regulatory decisions, are not. When a citizen fundamentally supports the policies and projects an agency is funding, the positive effect of spending may be enhanced. I find support for these expectations. This article contributes to our understanding of the ways in which expenditures shape opinion toward agencies, which is important given the significance of public sentiment for an agency’s political survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-547
Number of pages25
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • agency performance
  • bureaucratic politics
  • public opinion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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