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: 2017-4
  • Adopted on: December 14, 2017
  • Committee: Regulation

Marketable permits are a type of government-created license that regulates the level of a particular activity.[1]  Often, they ration the use of a resource (for instance, clean air by limiting pollution, fisheries by limiting fish catch, or the electromagnetic spectrum by allocating it among various uses), but they may also be used to satisfy affirmative obligations to engage in an activity (such as requirements to produce renewable...

  • Recommendation number: 2017-5
  • Adopted on: December 14, 2017
  • Committee: Judicial Review

General statements of policy under the Administrative Procedure Act (hereinafter policy statements) are agency statements of general applicability, not binding on members of the public,  “issued . . . to advise the public prospectively of the manner in which the agency proposes to exercise a discretionary power.”[1]  Interpretive rules are defined as rules or “statements issued by an agency to advise the public of the agency’s...

  • Recommendation number: 2017-6
  • Adopted on: December 15, 2017
  • Committee: Rulemaking

Making sound regulatory decisions demands information and analysis.  Several Administrative Conference recommendations encourage agencies to gather data when making new rules and when reviewing existing rules.[1]  These recommendations reinforce analytic demands imposed on agencies by legislation,[2] executive orders,[3] and judicial decisions.[4]

Agencies need information about the problems that new rules will address, such...

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...