The Prehistory of ACUS, Part 3: The First Hoover Commission Envisions a Proto-ACUS

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

The Administrative Procedure Act became law on June 11, 1946, and a year later, in July 1947, Congress called on President Truman to appoint a Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government.

Truman named former President Herbert Hoover the Commission’s Chair. Dean Acheson, who had chaired the Committee on Administrative Procedure five years earlier, was its Vice Chair.

Harry Truman (Library of Congress/Harris & Ewing Collection).

The Commission’s purpose was to study federal agencies and their organization and recommend improvements. Its result was one of the most wide-ranging reorganizations in the history of American government.

Buried in the 500-odd pages of the Commission’s 1949 report was a singular Recommendation No. 7:

This Commission recommends that the Administrative Management Division of the Office of the Budget should, with the aid of carefully selected legal consultants, suggest ways and means to improve and thereby reduce the cost of disposing of business before administrative agencies.

Such studies would be concerned not only with the independent regulatory commissions but also with the administrative disposition of controversies before all Government agencies. The causes which lead to prolonged hearings, intra-agency appeals, and voluminous records, could be analyzed by the legal experts, and simpler, more efficient, and less costly methods prescribed. Administrative justice today unfortunately is not characterized by economy, simplicity, and dispatch. It remains, however, a necessity in our complex economic system.

Next week: Part 4, The Judicial Conference Looks at Administrative Procedure.

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Linkedin