AND ADMINISTRATIVE LAW
How many agencies are there?
A labyrinth is identified as a structure or garden characterized by an extremely complex maze with
tortuous dead ends and blind alleys.
Anyone who has dealt with a large governmental bureaucracy can
readily appreciate the frustrations of trying to get through that maze with sanity intact.
burgeoning growth of administrative agencies at every level is indeed cause for concern for its
According to statistics published by the U.S. Congress, the federal government alone has
over three million civilian employees.
In spite of constant calls to reduce the size of government's role in
the average person's affairs, that role has grown tremendously.
The media headlines may be focused on
the goings on in the capitol, but the real functions of government are carried out in the trenches by this
"fourth branch of government" every day.
This chapter outlines the basic ground rules about how the
agencies are created, how they are authorized to act, and what controls have been put in place so as to
protect the rights of both the citizenry and the government.
The basic function undertaken by these administrative agencies is to carry out the ministerial
functions necessary to the operation of the government.
These functions are first authorized by what are
called organic statutes, which create the agency, and enabling statutes, which delegate certain powers to
the agency to act for the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of government.
It is interesting to
note at the outset that the "clean functional lines" of executive, legislative, and judicial can and often do
become blurred when examining the breadth and scope of administrative agency activities.
Once the existence of the agency is settled upon and its scope of authority is established, it is then
decided whether it is acting within that scope vis-à-vis the particular issue at hand.
Remember the basic
assumption here is that the executive branch, legislative branch, or judicial branch has chosen to designate
and delegate a certain portion of its authority to act.
This delegation is based on the presumption that the
agency can be expected to have certain levels of expertise, scales of economy, and attention to detail that
could not be readily expected of the policy makers.
The next step is to see if the power in question was in
fact truly delegated, and if so, is it being properly exercised by the agency?
The mechanisms for control of agency powers are relatively sparse given the scope of agency
The key provisions for control of agency powers are found in the executive branch chain of
command and in the overview powers vested in the judiciary.
In addition, there have been a number of
specific information access statutes, such as the Freedom of Information Act, Government in the
Sunshine Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act to help persons dealing with these agencies to get
through the labyrinth.
Like it or not, what it all points to is that we live in an age of specialization.