Friday, September 5, 2008

Grisinger on the Attorney General's Committee on Administrative Procedure

“Law in Action: The Attorney General’s Committee on Administrative Procedure” is an article by Joanna Grisinger of Clemson University that is available on-line to subscribers to Project Muse and forthcoming in print in volume 20, issue 3 of the Journal of Policy History. (Dean Acheson chaired the committee for most of its operation; hence the illustration at right.) Here is the abstract:
This article examines the Attorney General’s Committee on Administrative Procedure, created in 1939 by President Roosevelt to investigate federal administrative practices. By the 1930s, as a multitude of federal agencies, commissions, and departments exercised lawmaking authority, charges intensified that administrators were violating the rights of individuals and businesses. In response, the Committee conducted the first in-depth study of how administrative bodies actually exercised their powers. Their investigations provided evidence that the administrative process was not, in fact, rife with violations of private rights. Instead, the Committee demonstrated that inefficiency was a more common problem than excessive zeal. At the same time, however, the Committee found that allegations of unfairness were harming Americans’ faith in administration. The Committee’s recommendations, which were largely incorporated into the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946, attempted to enhance the legitimacy of the administrative process while also improving the efficiency of its work.