Administrative Conference of the United States
Seal of the Administrative Conference of the United States
|Formed||1964, revived 2009|
|Headquarters||1120 20th St NW, Suite 706 South Washington, D.C.|
|Website||Administrative Conference of the United States|
The Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) is a nonpartisan independent agency of the United States government established in 1964 by the Administrative Conference Act. The Conference's purpose is to "promote improvements in the efficiency, adequacy, and fairness of the procedures by which federal agencies conduct regulatory programs, administer grants and benefits, and perform related governmental functions."
To this end, the Conference conducts research and issues reports concerning various aspects of the administrative process and, when warranted, makes recommendations to the President, Congress, particular departments and agencies, and the judiciary concerning the need for procedural reforms. Of these recommendations, 33% have focused on reducing government costs and increasing revenue, 26% on improving the use of science in the administrative process, and 20% on reducing litigation in the regulatory process. Implementation of Conference recommendations may be accomplished by direct action on the part of the affected agencies or through legislative changes.
The Chairman is appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, for a 5-year term. The other ten members of the Council, which acts as an executive board, are appointed by the President for 3-year terms. Federal officials may comprise no more than one-half of the full membership of the Council. The Chairman is the only full-time compensated member.
In order to draw on a wide array of expertise and ensure diversity of views that contribute to the formulation of ACUS recommendations, the Conference's membership consists of no fewer than 75 and no more than 101 members who are chosen from government agencies, the practicing bar, academia, corporations, and non-profit entities. Each member serves on one of ACUS's committees, which are devoted to one of five administrative procedure subjects: adjudication, administration and management, judicial review, regulation, and rulemaking. ACUS estimates that its volunteer experts bring an added $1.1 million of value to the agency's work.
ACUS was formed as a permanent agency to continue the bipartisan efforts of the two temporary Administrative Conferences that operated during the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations. Each of the temporary Conferences had recommended the establishment of a permanent body to continually study, and recommend improvements to, administrative procedures.
ACUS began operations with the appointment and confirmation of its first Chairman in 1968. In just under three decades, the Conference undertook over 200 recommendation projects examining various areas of administrative law and practice. In 1995, the Conference ceased operations due to loss of funding, but the statutory provisions establishing ACUS were not repealed. Indeed, the Conference's work received continued recognition over the years. In 2007, the Congressional Research Service remarked that ACUS offered “nonpartisan, nonbiased, comprehensive, and practical assessments and guidance with respect to a wide range of agency processes, procedures, and practices.”
In support of ACUS's reauthorization, Justice Antonin Scalia, a former Chairman of ACUS, testified before the House Judiciary Committee that the Conference represented “a unique combination of talents from the academic world, from within the executive branch . . . and . . . from the private bar, especially lawyers particularly familiar with administrative law." He also described ACUS as “one of the federal government’s ‘best bargains . . . for the buck.’”
Following this and other testimony, Congress reauthorized the Conference in 2004 and again in 2008. The 2004 legislation expanded the responsibilities of ACUS to include specific attention to achieving more effective public participation and efficiency, reducing unnecessary litigation, and improving the use of science in the rulemaking process. Funding was approved in 2009, and the Conference was officially re-established in March 2010, when the United States Senate confirmed Paul R. Verkuil as Chair. The re-established ACUS started a new online presence, including a searchable database of publications and recommendations throughout its existence from 1968 to 1995 and its re-establishment in March 2010 to present.
Recommendations and resources
Many early ACUS recommendations were enacted by Congress, and more have been relied on by agencies and courts. For example, ACUS has made several influential recommendations to eliminate technical impediments to judicial review of agency decisions. Congress implemented each of ACUS's proposals through Public Law 94-574.
ACUS also worked to develop and implement the use of alternative dispute resolution techniques in administrative practice, with the goal of decreasing litigation cost and delays in agency programs. These efforts resulted in the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act in 1990, by which Congress provided a framework for agencies to use alternative dispute resolution to resolve administrative litigation. ACUS also explored—and worked to implement through legislation—alternative dispute resolution techniques in rulemaking. The Conference's recommendations on negotiating regulations served as the groundwork for the Negotiated Rulemaking Act.
Since its re-establishment in 2010, the Conference has adopted over 40 recommendations and statements providing recommended reforms directed to federal agencies, Congress, the President, and the Judicial Conference of the United States. Although ACUS recommendations are formally non-binding, some of the more significant developments to grow out of ACUS's work include its recommendation addressing agency adjustments to civil monetary penalties was implemented by Congress in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would increase government revenue by $1.3 billion over the next ten years. Another recommendation was implemented through Executive Order 13,609, which seeks to reduce unnecessary international regulatory disparities that impose costs on business; yet another recommendation prompted the Office of Management and Budget to update its guidance on how federal agencies can incorporate standards set by industrial, scientific, and other entities in their own regulations.
In addition to these recommendations, ACUS hosts trainings, working groups, and other initiatives for agency and Congressional staff. The Conference has also released a number of resources for agency officials and the general public. Two recent resources include the Sourcebook of United States Executive Agencies, which comprehensively catalogs the agencies and other organizational entities of the federal executive establishment, and the Federal Administrative Adjudication Database, a joint project with Stanford Law School to “map the contours of the federal administrative adjudicatory process, including both ‘formal’ adjudication conducted under the Administrative Procedure Act (‘APA’) and ‘informal’ adjudication.”
- United States Administrative Law
- Administrative Law, Process and Procedure Project
- Title 1 of the Code of Federal Regulations
- "Administrative Conference Act". Retrieved December 14, 2016.
- "ACUS in Brief" (PDF). Administrative Conference of the United States. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
- "About the Council". Administrative Conference of the United States. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
- "Committees". Administrative Conference of the United States. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
- Memorandum Convening the President's Commission on Administrative Procedure, Public Papers 219-22 (Apr. 29, 1953); Executive Order 10934, 26 Fed. Reg. 3233 (Apr. 13, 1961).
- "History". Administrative Conference of the United States. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
- "ACUS FY 2011 Congressional Budget Justification" (PDF). Administrative Conference of the United States. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
- "ACUS 50th Anniversary Fact Sheet" (PDF). Administrative Conference of the United States. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
- Pub. L. 108-401, sec. 2(a), Oct. 30, 2004, 118 Stat. 2255; and Pub. L. 110-290, sec. 2, July 30, 2008, 122 Stat. 2914.
- "Research Projects". Administrative Conference of the United States. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
- Edles, Gary J. (1998). "The Continuing Need for an Administrative Conference". Admin. L. Rev. 50: 101.
- Pub. L. 101-552, 104 Stat. 2736 (1990).
- Pub. L. 101-648, 104 Stat. 4970 (1990).
- "Executive Order 13,609" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-12-06.
- "Incorporation by Reference". Administrative Conference of the United States. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
- "Special Initiatives". Administrative Conference of the United States. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
- Lewis, David E.; Selin, Jennifer L. (2013). Sourcebook of United States Executive Agencies (PDF) (corrected March 2013 ed.). Washington, DC: Administrative Conference of the United States.
- "Adjudication Research: Joint Project of ACUS and Stanford Law School". Retrieved December 14, 2016.
- Administrative Conference of the United States (official website). With bibliographies and searchable database of all ACUS Publications and ACUS Recommendations, 1968–present.
- Administrative Conference of the United States in the Federal Register
- The Administrative Conference at 50: GW Law Review & ACUS Commemorative Project
- Thompson-Gale legal encyclopedia entry on the Administrative Conference of the United States from Jrank