Administrative Conference (ACUS) Chairman Paul Verkuil recently received a request from an English teacher at a high school in Russia. She explained that her curriculum includes a topic about one of the United States government agencies and she had selected ACUS for her students to study. She asked for information about the Conference’s “history and current development,” along with our “logo.” She also expressed the hope that this activity would motivate her students “to learn more carefully and encourage them for future trips in the USA.”
Chairman Verkuil asked me to prepare a response for this new “audience,” which we post here in the belief that it might be useful to students and others as a brief introduction to who we are and what we do.
ACUS is an independent agency, established by statute in 1964, within the executive branch of the federal government. “Independent agency” means that we are not a part of any other agency or department. The executive branch is the part of our national government that is responsible for the enforcement and administration of federal laws. In 1995, Congress decided to stop funding the agency, so ACUS ceased operations at the end of October. After more than 14 years, funding was restored and the agency resumed operations in 2010.
ACUS is among the smallest agencies of our federal government, but it has a very important mission: 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. We do this through a variety of activities that include scholarly research projects, development of recommendations directed primarily to agencies and Congress, and publications and seminars on best procedural practices.
The agency’s structure is unique, combining a small, full-time, professional staff with a membership of 101 persons from other federal agencies and from the private sector, chosen because of their knowledge and experience relating to administrative procedure. The Chairman is the only member of the Conference who is paid by this agency. Of the other 100 members, typically 55 are employed by other federal agencies and 45 are from outside the government. The entire Conference meets twice each year (most recently on June 13 and 14) to debate and vote on proposed recommendations, based on our research and the work of ACUS committees. All of these meetings are open to the public and are made available through our website (audio and video) to anyone who is interested.
The most comprehensive source of information about ACUS is our website (www.acus.gov). The website contains a lot of descriptive information about the agency’s history, its membership, and our research and recommendation processes, plus full texts of all of our current and historical recommendations and all of our research reports since the re-establishment of the agency in 2010. See particularly:
- ACUS History
- Guide for Members
- Various documents, resources and reports (see particularly the Bylaws for operational information)
- ACUS 2012 Performance and Accountability Annual Report
- ACUS Recommendations
- Video and documents from our 58th Plenary Session
You will find our logo or seal on most of the pages on our website. The principal elements are the red, white and blue stars and stripes of the American flag (13 of each, commemorating the original 13 colonies that united to form the United States), the date of our statute in Roman numerals, the quotation “To form a more perfect union” from the preamble to the American Constitution, and a torch to symbolize enlightenment and leadership.
I hope that this information and the materials you can find on our website will be interesting and helpful to you and your students. We thank you for your interest in our agency and the work we are doing.
Best wishes to you and your students.