The Prehistory of ACUS, Part 2: The Committee on Administrative Procedure Proposes an Office of Federal Administrative Procedure

This post is the second in a nine-part series about the historical antecedents of ACUS.

In 1939, as Congress debated the Walter-Logan Bill, President Roosevelt asked Attorney General Frank Murphy to appoint a committee to investigate the “need for procedural reform.”

The Attorney General’s Committee on Administrative Procedure brought together twelve of the day’s leading scholars on administrative procedure. Dean Acheson was its Chair. (Acheson later served as Secretary of State under President Truman.) Its Director was Walter Gellhorn—Columbia Law Professor, longtime ACUS Council member (1968-1995), and then brother-in-law to Ernest Hemingway.

Franklin Roosevelt

Franklin Roosevelt (Library of Congress/Harris & Ewing Collection).

The Committee released a landmark series of monographs on the major federal agencies. That series still today remains an immense work of scholarship. And in 1941, the Committee issued its final report, making recommendations covering every area of administrative procedure, from rulemaking to adjudication to judicial review.

The Committee also recommended the establishment of a new Office of Federal Administrative Procedure. The Office was intended to bring together agency officials and public representatives to “examine critically the procedures and practices of the agencies which may bear strengthening or standardizing, to receive suggestions and criticisms from all sources, and to collect and collate information concerning administrative practice and procedure.”

Next week: Part 3, The First Hoover Commission Envisions a Proto-ACUS. 

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