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What is the Administrative Procedure Act?

Updated on November 9, 2010

This act is that affects how the government operates and what information must be available to the public with regards to how each agency and department operates. Most voters probably do not know about this law (Public Law 79-404). This law is the way in which administrative agencies of the federal government of the United States may propose and establish regulations. Part of this law also sets up a process for the United States Federal Courts to directly review agency decisions. This act became law in 1946. It applies to federal executive departments and independent agencies. This law is 51 pages long and is quite detailed in identifying the requirements to be followed. The intent of this article is to inform the general public the basic rules and policies which must be followed by federal executive departments and independent agencies. The act is part of the United States Code Chapter 5.

To begin the basic purposes of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) is a list of four. The first is to require agencies to keep the public informed of their organization, procedures and rules. The second is to provide for public participation in the rulemaking process. The third purpose is to establish uniform standards for the conduct of formal rulemaking and adjudication. The last is to define the scope of judicial review. The term adjudication in the third purpose identified above means agency process for the formulation of an order.

With regards to information required to be available to the public the following information is being presented.

Each agency shall make available to the public the following information:

A description of its central and field organizations and the established places at which, the employees from whom, and the methods whereby the public may obtain information, make submittals or requests, or obtain decisions.

Statements of the general course and methods by which its functions are channeled and determined. This includes the nature and requirements of all formal and informal procedures available.

Rules of procedure, descriptions of forms available or the places at which forms may be obtained, and instructions as to the scope and contents of all papers, reports, or examinations.

Substantive rules of general applicability adopted as authorized by law, and statements of general policy or interpretations of general applicability formulated and adopted by the agency.

Each amendment, revision, or repeal of the foregoing. Excerpt to the extent that a person has actual and timely notice of the terms thereof, a person may not in any manner be required to resort to, or be adversely affected by, a matter required to be published in the Federal Register.

Other information includes the following three items:

Final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, as well as orders, made inthe adjudication cases.

Those statements of policy and interpretations which have been adopted by the agency andare not published in the Federal Register

Administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect a member of the public.

The purpose of the information presented above is an effort to understand the process of how government entities operate. There have been many federal legislatures since the act was created and signed into law in 1946. When looking at the information in the entire act I better understand why government agencies and departments operate in the manner they do. Much of the information that can be found on agency and department web sites are a result of the basic concepts introduced in this act. As voters it is in our best interest to take advantage of the information available to us as required by this act. While there may have been some changes to the content of this act since its creation it is quite clear that the basic purposes of this act are still in place.


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      daPuma5 7 years ago

      Thanks for the education! This was great, rated up!