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

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Contact: Harry M. Seidman 
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Email: hseidman@acus.gov  

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

Friday, December 17, 2021 – At its 76th Plenary Session, held virtually on December 16th, the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) adopted five recommendations to 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 2021-6: Public Access to Agency Adjudicative Proceedings. This recommendation identifies best practices regarding when and how federal agencies provide public access to adjudicative proceedings. Within the legal framework established by federal law, it identifies factors agencies should consider when determining whether to open or close particular proceedings. It also offers best practices to promote public access to proceedings that agencies open to the public and recommends that agencies make the policies governing public access readily available. Additional information is available here.  

Recommendation 2021-7: Public Availability of Inoperative Agency Guidance Documents. This recommendation identifies for agencies best practices for maintaining public access to agency guidance documents that are no longer in effect—that is, inoperative guidance documents. It addresses factors agencies should consider in deciding whether to include certain types of inoperative guidance documents on their websites; steps agencies can take to make it easier for members of the public to find the inoperative guidance documents in which they are interested; and what labels and explanations agencies should use to ensure that the public can readily understand the context and significance of particular inoperative guidance documents.Additional information is available here.  

Recommendation 2021-8: Technical Reform of the Congressional Review Act. This recommendation offers technical reforms of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) that clarify certain procedural aspects of the CRA while reducing administrative burdens on executive-branch agencies and congressional offices. Specifically, the recommendation suggests phasing out the requirement that agencies submit paper copies of certain rulemaking materials to Congress in favor of an electronic process; making it easier to ascertain key dates and time periods relevant to review of agency rules under the CRA; and formalizing a procedure by which Members of Congress can initiate congressional review of rules that agencies conclude are not covered by the CRA. Additional information is available here.  

Recommendation 2021-9: Regulation of Representatives in Agency Adjudicative Proceedings.  This recommendation recommends that agencies consider adopting rules governing attorney and non-attorney representatives in adjudicative proceedings in order to promote the accessibility, fairness, integrity, and efficiency of those proceedings. It provides guidance on the topics that rules might cover and recommends that agencies consider whether greater harmonization of different bodies of rules is desirable and ensure that their rules are readily accessible to representatives and the public. Additional information is available here.  

Recommendation 2021-10: Quality Assurance Systems in Agency Adjudication. This recommendation identifies best practices for agencies when devising and implementing systems to assess and improve the quality of decisions in adjudicative programs. It emphasizes cutting-edge techniques (including artificial intelligence) to structure the capture and analysis of data; the selection, role, and institutional placement of personnel; the use of performance metrics; efforts to ensure fairness, impartiality, efficiency, and other important institutional objectives; and the relationship between quality-assurance review and conventional appellate review. Additional information is available here.

The next Plenary Session will be held in June 2022. 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.