about bureauphile

bureauphile is a blog dedicated to observing American government. We write to improve the quality of public discourse about how American government works and why.

The term bureauphile is borrowed from Robert Durant’s 1992 book The Administrative Presidency Revisited: Public Lands, the BLM, and the Reagan Revolution.


Matthew Dull is an associate professor with Virginia Tech’s Center for Public Administration and Policy. His research examines American political institutions, public policy and administration, and government reform.

Nicole Harkin worked for the government, Congress, and non-profit organizations for a decade on government oversight. She spent two years in Germany as both a Fulbright Fellow and Robert Bosch Fellow. She is now at work on a memoir and a novel.

Ben Klemens is an economist and author of Modeling with Data (Princeton University Press, 2008) and Math You Can’t Use: patents, copyright, and software (Brookings Institution Press, 2005). His interests vary.

William G. Resh is an assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy. His research focuses on executive politics, organizational behavior, and personnel policy.


Recent Posts

To encourage production of new terrain, a tax subsidy for maps


This is a post about a paper I just put out to Elsevier’s SSRN, because I believe every academic paper should have a blog post explaining why it is useful.

The paper is about the intellectual property (IP) box. The proposal is to provide a lower tax rate to profits associated with a patent or other IP. IP boxes currently exist in a few countries, and a few bills have been introduced in the U.S. Congress to set up an IP box.

The bills proposing IP boxes—which they refer to as innovation boxes—could possibly be traced to a measurement problem. Innovation is hard to define, let alone measure, so many academics will use patent rates as a proxy, in a classic case of looking under the lamppost and replacing a complex concept with something that can be counted and looked up in a database. This seems to have become ingrained, and arguments about patent boxes seem to depend upon the assumption that patents==innovation. This column traces where that substitution leads us.

Continue reading

  1. Hiding at the bottom of the stack Leave a reply
  2. The problem of incentivizing nothing Leave a reply
  3. Fun with Form 3800 Leave a reply
  4. How an ostensibly universal deduction excludes lower income taxpayers Leave a reply
  5. Why failing startups that do stupid things get bought for millions Leave a reply
  6. Why people tip in US restaurants Leave a reply
  7. The time I went to see a House Ways and Means Committee tax hearing Leave a reply
  8. The time I saw Ezra Klein talk about presenting research Leave a reply
  9. Managing complexity: encoding the tax code Leave a reply