Recommendations

The main statutory function of ACUS is to bring together the public and private sectors to recommend improvements to administrative and regulatory processes.

ACUS’s Office of the Chairman, with the approval of the Council, engages consultants to study administrative processes or procedures that may need improvement. Consultants or in-house staff then prepare a comprehensive research report proposing recommendations. An ACUS committee discusses this report, preparing a draft Recommendation to submit to the Council and, with approval, to the Assembly. Following a debate the Assembly adopts the final Recommendation, which ACUS undertakes to implement.                                                                              

On occasion, the ACUS membership has acted to adopt a “Statement” to express its views on a particular matter without making a formal recommendation on the subject.  ACUS statements are typically the product of the same process that leads to recommendations, but may set forth issues, conclusions from a study, or comments, rather than recommendations.  ACUS has adopted 20 such statements, which are included in the searchable database of recommendations.

  • Recommendation number: 2022-1
  • Adopted on: June 16, 2022
  • Committee: Rulemaking
Executive Summary

Agencies rely on private contractors to perform many kinds of services in support of their rulemaking activities. These services can occur at any stage of the rulemaking process. They also vary in levels of complexity, ranging from relatively simple tasks such as sorting public comments to more complex matters such as preparing regulatory impact analyses or initial drafts of regulations. While there may be...

  • Recommendation number: 2022-2
  • Adopted on: June 16, 2022
  • Committee: Regulation
Executive Summary

Each year federal agencies issue hundreds of thousands of pages of legislative rules, guidance documents, adjudicative orders, notices, and other materials that affect administrative programs. Although the law generally requires these materials be made public, individuals and organizations may lack the resources or expertise to track and understand regulatory changes that affect them. This is particularly true for...

Executive Summary

Federal agencies increasingly automate the provision of legal guidance to the public through technologies such as chatbots and virtual assistants. There may be benefits associated with the use of these technologies, including efficient allocation of limited staff resources; improved user experience and service delivery; and enhanced consistency. At the same time, the seemingly personalized nature of the guidance...

  • Recommendation number: 2021-1
  • Adopted on: June 17, 2021
  • Committee: Rulemaking
Executive Summary

With some exceptions, the Administrative Procedure Act requires agencies to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in rulemakings through submission of written data, views, or arguments. Agencies must consider all relevant submissions and make them available in a public docket. This Recommendation identifies strategies for handling three types of comments that present distinctive management...

Executive Summary

ACUS has long recommended that agencies reevaluate and update existing regulations, a process called “retrospective review,” and urged them to conduct such reviews under specific timeframes, a practice called “periodic” retrospective review. This Recommendation offers agencies practical suggestions about how to establish plans for periodic retrospective review. Among other things, it recommends:

Agencies...

  • Recommendation number: 2021-3
  • Adopted on: June 17, 2021
  • Committee: Regulation
Executive Summary

This Recommendation offers agencies best practices for soliciting early input during the process of developing regulatory alternatives before issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking. Among other things, it recommends:

Agencies should consider several factors when determining whether to seek early input on regulatory alternatives, such as the agency’s familiarity with the underlying policy issues, the...

  • Recommendation number: 2021-4
  • Adopted on: June 17, 2021
  • Committee: Adjudication
Executive Summary

Technological and telecommunications advances have given rise to new formats for remote participation in agency adjudications. In past recommendations, ACUS has addressed proceedings in which participants appear remotely from agency hearing rooms equipped with professional-grade video and audio equipment. This Recommendation addresses proceedings in which participants appear remotely from a location of their...

  • Recommendation number: 2021-5
  • Adopted on: September 17, 2021
  • Committee: Judicial Review
Executive Summary

Judicial review of federal administrative action is governed by numerous statutes—including two general statutes, the Administrative Procedure Act and the Hobbs Act—and hundreds of agency-specific statutes. Ambiguities and inconsistencies in these statutes can create unnecessary obstacles to judicial review and complicate the process of judicial review. This Recommendation recommends eliminating certain obstacles...

  • Recommendation number: 2021-6
  • Adopted on: December 16, 2021
  • Committee: Adjudication
Executive Summary

Agencies must determine whether and how to allow public access to adjudicative proceedings. Statutes govern public access in some contexts, and many agencies have adopted their own policies. This Recommendation offers best practices to help agencies develop policies on public access to adjudicative proceedings. Among other things, it recommends:

Agencies ordinarily should presume that evidentiary hearings...

  • Recommendation number: 2021-7
  • Adopted on: December 16, 2021
  • Committee: Regulation
Executive Summary

ACUS has long recommended that agencies make their guidance documents publicly available, including on their websites, and label them to indicate whether or not they remain in effect—that is, are operative. This Recommendation provides agencies best practices for maintaining public access to guidance documents that are no longer in effect—that is, are inoperative. Among other things, it recommends:

Agencies...