Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



The American welfare state is evolving away from the model initiated during the New Deal and elaborated during the civil rights era. It increasingly aims at capacitation rather than income maintenance, and its interventions more frequently take the form of services as opposed to monetary grants. These changes entail modes of organization and legal accountability different from those associated with New Deal-civil rights era model. This paper, written for a volume honoring Jerry Mashaw, considers Mashaw’s seminal analysis of legal accountability in the welfare state in the light of the key trends of recent decades. The tension or trade-off between individualized decision-making and bureaucratic rationality that preoccupies much of Mashaw’s analysis is mitigated in novel ways in the newer programs. The new programs depend on the tailoring of services to the individual circumstances of the beneficiary. Yet, at the same time, these programs aspire to use technology and managerial techniques to hold frontline agents accountable in ways different from those Mashaw contemplated.


Administrative Law | Law