Administrative Agencies


Administrative agencies are lawmaking bodies with limited powers delegated by Congress. Administrative agencies specialize in specific issues that require expertise.  Administrative agencies are established by Article 1 Section1 of the federal constitution which reads: “[a]ll legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.”  The “necessary-and-proper” clause in the eighth section of the Article 1 states that the Congress shall have power “[t]o make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers … in any Department or Officer thereof.” 

The rules and regulations created by administrative agencies can be enforced as law.  The agencies help in  the speedy disposal of cases, both minor and complex and thus are a big aid to US courts.  The process also helps in reserving judicial resources for other significant cases.  The members of administrative agencies are experts in the respective subject area. Administrative agencies can create their own rules and regulations. 

The Administrative Procedure Act 1946[i] (APA) sets the standards for administrative agencies in exercising their lawmaking powers.  The standards laid down by the APA also help federal courts whenever they are faced with suits challenging the rules and regulations created by the agencies.

Most administrative agencies fall under the supervision of the President.  The Drug Enforcement Administration and The Federal Bureau of Investigation are examples of administrative agencies that fall under the supervision of the President.  However, there are also independent administrative agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission.  The President has limited powers in removing of the head of such independent administrative agencies.  However, since the President is closely involved in the appointment of heads or filling up of vacancies in these agencies, he does play a role in influencing the activities of the agencies, whether independent or not.

In contrast to federal administrative agencies, the states also have administrative agencies to take care of state specific issues like transportation, education, public health, labor law, etc.  These agencies are mirror images of the respective federal agencies and are not entitled to create rules/regulations that go against those created by their federal counterparts.

[i] 5 U.S.C.A. § 551 [1982]