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In this chapter of a book dedicated to the work of Jerry Mashaw, Professor Pierce compares the culture and performance of a nineteenth century agency with the culture and performance of a modern agency with an analogous mission.

He concludes that the Board of Supervising Inspectors saved thousands of lives and millions of dollars by issuing scores of rules in just a few years that reduced dramatically the harm caused by the largest source of transportation accidents in the nineteenth century—steamship boiler explosions. By contrast, he notes that it took the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) almost twenty years to issue the only rule that was effective in reducing the largest source of transportation deaths and injuries in the twentieth century—second collisions with automobiles.

He attributes those stark differences in performance to the different cultures of the two agencies. The Board had no lawyers on its payroll, and its actions were not subject to judicial review. NHTSA was dominated by lawyers, and its actions were subject to judicial review.

GW Paper Series

GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2017-87; GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-87

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