Update on Second Edition of ACUS’s Sourcebook of United States Executive Agencies

The first edition of ACUS’s Sourcebook of United States Executive Agencies, published in 2012, filled a significant gap in the public’s understanding of the structure and organization of the federal executive establishment.  It described the diversity of federal agencies, their place in the executive establishment and structural characteristics, and how those features matter for political control and agency performance. Prior to the first edition, the most comprehensive such review of executive organization was the report of the President’s Committee on Administrative Management (commonly referred to as the Brownlow Committee) published in 1937. 

Since its publication, the first edition has served as a resource for members of Congress and their staffs, administration and agency officials, and the public. Demand was so strong that it is now in its second printing. References to the first edition have even made their way into Supreme Court opinions. See, e.g., City of Arlington v. FCC, 569 U.S. 290, 314 (2013) (Roberts, C.J., dissenting).

But a lot has happened within the federal executive establishment in the six years since the initial publication of the Sourcebook. New agencies have been created. Some agencies, previously housed under larger agencies, have been made into separate agencies. In other cases, agency structure and governance have been altered by judicial decisions or statutory changes. 

To account for this evolution, ACUS has commissioned a second edition of the Sourcebook. Professor Jennifer Selin from the University of Missouri, in collaboration with Professor David E. Lewis from Vanderbilt University, the authors of the first edition, are working on an update. 

The second edition will include an expanded set of agencies, giving the second edition a broader reach than the first. The new edition will continue to define an “agency” as a federal executive instrumentality headed by one or more political appointees nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, but given the political importance of many agency bureaus (e.g., Food and Drug Administration), it will also include data on bureaus within agencies that Congress and the President recognize as politically important. It will also reflect current laws and recent scholarly research on the operation of the executive establishment.  

The second edition will ensure that the Sourcebook will remain a useful source for Congress, agencies, the judiciary, and the general public for years to come. ACUS expects to publish it sometime this year.