ACUS Adopts Five Recommendations to Improve Efficiency, Fairness, Transparency, and Public Participation in Government Programs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Harry M. Seidman
202.480.2085
hseidman@acus.gov

ACUS Adopts Five Recommendations to Improve Efficiency, Fairness, Transparency, and Public Participation in Government Programs

Washington, December 13, 2019 – At its 72nd Plenary Session on December 12, the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) adopted five recommendations that will improve the efficiency, transparency, and fairness of administrative programs; reduce their costs to taxpayers; and enhance the public’s ability to participate in them.

Recommendation 2019-5: Agency Economists. This recommendation addresses the placement of economists within rule-writing agencies and explores methods for promoting high-quality economic analysis within each of the possible organizational structures. The recommendation does not endorse any one organizational structure over another but identifies steps agencies can take to remove structural barriers that can impede the communication of objective, consistent, and high-quality economic analysis during the rulemaking process.

Recommendation 2019-6: Independent Research by Agency Adjudicators in the Internet Age. This recommendation addresses agency adjudicators’ increasing reliance on their own factual research—especially internet research—when conducting hearings and deciding cases. The recommendation urges agencies to develop publicly available policies on independent research that, among other things, identify sources of information that are reliable in all cases, set forth standards for adjudicators to apply when assessing the reliability of other sources, and ensure that litigants have ready access to all sources.

Recommendation 2019-7: Acting Agency Officials and Delegations of Authority. This recommendation offers agencies best practices for promoting greater transparency and compliance with the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 when a Senate-confirmed position sits vacant. It also addresses the use of delegations of authority in the face of staffing vacancies. It urges agencies to determine whether the agency is subject to the Vacancies Act and, if so, establish compliance processes; improve transparency by disclosing on their websites information about acting officials and delegations of authority; and provide additional support and training to agency officials responsible for Vacancies Act compliance.

Recommendation 2019-8: Public Identification of Agency Officials. This recommendation promotes the public availability of real-time information about high-level officials leading federal agencies. It encourages agencies to publish on their websites basic information about high-level agency leaders and identify vacant leadership positions and acting officials. It also recommends that the Office of Personnel Management publish and regularly update a list of high-level agency leaders, as well as an archival list of former Senate-confirmed presidential appointees.

Recommendation 2019-9: Recruiting and Hiring Agency Attorneys. This recommendation offers best practices for agencies to recruit and hire attorneys. It notes that agencies are not bound by certain procedural requirements that apply to the hiring of other kinds of employees and, among other suggestions, advises agencies to post and disseminate announcements widely when they seek broad applicant pools; write announcements clearly and concisely; communicate to applicants any limitations on the number of applicants the agency will consider; establish policies for reviewing applications and interviewing candidates; and decide, in the period before an attorney’s adverse action rights accrue, whether to retain the attorney after the period elapses.

The next Plenary Session will be held in June 2020. Details, including times and recommendations to be considered, will be posted on the ACUS website. Join our mailing list at www.acus.gov/subscribe to be notified instantly.

About ACUS

The Administrative Conference of the United States is an independent federal agency dedicated to improving the administrative process through consensus-driven applied research and providing nonpartisan expert advice and recommendations for federal agency procedures. Its membership is composed of senior federal officials, academics, and other experts from the private sector. Except for the Chairman, all Conference Members are unpaid. 

The Conference is committed to promoting effective public participation and efficiency in the rulemaking process by leveraging interactive technologies and encouraging open communication with the public as well as making improvements to the regulatory process by reducing unnecessary litigation and improving the use of science and the effectiveness of applicable laws.  Learn more at www.acus.gov.

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