ACUS to Consider Acting Agency Officials and Delegations of Authority

More than 1,200 positions across the federal government require presidential nomination and Senate confirmation. In many cases, federal law permits certain officials to fill temporary vacancies in these positions by serving in an acting capacity.

This fall, ACUS will consider agency best practices related to the use of acting officials and delegations of authority under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 and agency-specific succession provisions. ACUS has commissioned a report from Professor Anne Joseph O’Connell that will address the subject. Professor O’Connell is the Adelbert H. Sweet Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, a public member of ACUS, and one of the nation’s leading experts on the Vacancies Act.

In particular, Professor O’Connell’s report will summarize the FVRA’s legal mandates; describe the prevalence of acting officials using new data; identify current agency practices from public sources, a survey, and interviews; and offer administrative and procedural guidance to agencies.

An ACUS committee will consider Professor O’Connell’s report and a series of draft recommendations to agencies during several upcoming meetings. If the Committee approves a recommendation and the ACUS Council places it on the agenda for the Assembly’s consideration, the ACUS Assembly will discuss and vote on the recommendation during ACUS’s December 2019 plenary session.

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