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.

Individuals and entities regulated by federal agencies must adhere to program-specific requirements prescribed by statute or regulation.  Sometimes, however, agencies prospectively excuse individuals or entities from statutory or regulatory requirements through waivers or exemptions.[1]  The authority to waive or exempt regulated parties from specific legal requirements affords agencies much-needed flexibility to respond to...

Some federal agencies maintain records of consumer complaints and feedback on products and services offered by private entities.  Taking advantage of recent technological developments, several agencies have recently begun to make such information available to the public through online searchable databases and downloadable data sets that contain complaint narratives or provide aggregate data about complaints.  Examples of such online...

  • Recommendation number: 2016-2
  • Adopted on: June 10, 2016
  • Committee: Adjudication

Federal agencies in the United States adjudicate hundreds of thousands of cases each year—more than the federal courts.  Unlike federal and state courts, federal agencies have generally avoided aggregation tools that could resolve large groups of claims more efficiently.  Consequently, in a wide variety of cases, agencies risk wasting resources in repetitive adjudication, reaching inconsistent outcomes for the same kinds of claims,...

  • Recommendation number: 2016-3
  • Adopted on: December 13, 2016
  • Committee: Judicial Review

The Administrative Conference recommends that the Judicial Conference of the United States develop special procedural rules for cases under the Social Security Act[1] in which an individual seeks district court review of a final administrative decision of the Commissioner of Social Security pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The Rules Enabling Act delegates authority to the United States Supreme Court (acting initially through the...

  • Recommendation number: 2016-4
  • Adopted on: December 13, 2016
  • Committee: Adjudication

Federal administrative adjudication can be divided into three categories:

(a) Adjudication that is regulated by the procedural provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and usually presided over by an administrative law judge (referred to as Type A in the report that underlies this recommendation and throughout the preamble)[1];

(b) Adjudication that consists of legally required evidentiary hearings that are...

  • Recommendation number: 2016-5
  • Adopted on: December 14, 2016
  • Committee: Rulemaking

This recommendation updates and expands on the Administrative Conference’s earlier Recommendation 90-2, The Ombudsman in Federal Agencies, adopted on June 7, 1990.  That document concentrated on “external ombudsmen,” those who primarily receive and address inquiries and complaints from the public, and was formulated before “use of ombuds” was added to the definition of “means of alternative dispute resolution” in the Administrative...

Federal agencies conduct millions of proceedings each year, making decisions that affect such important matters as disability or veterans’ benefits, immigration status, and home or property loans.  In many of these adjudications, claimants appear unrepresented for part or all of the proceeding and must learn to navigate hearing procedures, which can be quite complex, without expert assistance.  The presence of self-represented...

  • Recommendation number: 2015-1
  • Adopted on: June 4, 2015
  • Committee: Regulation

The Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (typically known simply as the “Unified Regulatory Agenda” or “Unified Agenda”) is an important mechanism by which federal agencies inform the public of upcoming rules.  Required to be published on a semiannual basis, the Unified Agenda represents a joint enterprise of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the Regulatory Information Service Center (...

  • Recommendation number: 2015-2
  • Adopted on: December 4, 2015
  • Committee: Rulemaking

Federal agencies play a significant role in the legislative process.[1]  While agencies can be the primary drafters of the statutes they administer, it is more common for agencies to respond to Congressional requests to provide technical assistance in statutory drafting.  Despite the extent of agency involvement in drafting legislation, the precise nature of the interactions between agencies and Congress in the drafting process...

  • Recommendation number: 2015-3
  • Adopted on: December 4, 2015
  • Committee: Adjudication

Providing clarity and certainty is an enduring challenge of administrative governance, particularly in the regulatory context.  Sometimes statutes and regulations fail to provide sufficient clarity with regard to their applicability to a particular project or transaction.  In such instances, businesses and individuals may be unable or unwilling to act, and the consequences for the economy, society, and technological progress can be...