The Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) announced today that it will hold its 56th Plenary Session on Thursday, June 14, 2012, to consider five proposed recommendations. This bi-annual meeting the ACUS Assembly is the culmination of substantial study and debate. At this June meeting, ACUS members will consider adopting recommendations dealing with:
- the multiplicity of regulatory analysis requirements,
- adoption of midnight rules in the last days of an Administration,
- improvements in immigration removal adjudication,
- administrative processes under the Paperwork Reduction Act, and
- improving coordination of related or multi-agency responsibilities.
ACUS, as the Executive Branch’s administrative law “think tank” is worth watching.
ACUS makes recommendations on improving the administrative process through research conducted largely by academics, and vetted through a series of meetings of government officials and the public. The recommendations generated by these reports and committee meetings animate discussion by a large group of senior government officials and respected authorities on administrative law in a “plenary” session of the Assembly of ACUS (with links, in order of agenda consideration):
Regulatory Analysis Requirements: The ACUS Committee on Regulations has made recommendations on coordinating compliance with numerous regulatory analysis requirements found in statute and executive orders, including the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA), and Executive Orders 12866 and 13563. The goal of the recommendation is to ensure agencies fulfill the regulatory analysis requirements efficiently, and to enhance the transparency of the process. Certainly, there are many analytical requirements that lead to duplication in regulatory preambles, and the report by Curtis Copeland seeks to sort out the substance.
Midnight Rules: The Committee on Rulemaking presents recommendations on the perceived problem of promulgation of final rules in the waning months (or days) of an Administration. The draft report prepared by Jack Beermann (Boston U) addresses what some perceive to be a substantive problem, other perceive it only as a perceptual problem.
Immigration Removal Adjudication: The Committee on Adjudications revisits a larger and more complicated process than ACUS addressed nearly 30 years ago. Removal adjudications brought by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before the Department of Justice (DOJ) involve many moving parts. The recommendation addresses case backlogs in immigration removals, and suggests means to enhance efficiency and fairness. The potpourri of recommendations is backed by a report from Lenni Benson (NYU) and Russell Wheeler (Brookings (formerly of the Federal Judicial Center)).
Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA): The Committee on Administration and Management recommendations address a variety of (mostly management) issues that have arisen since the PRA was last revised in 1995, particularly public engagement, operational burdens on the agencies and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the new frontier of social media. The supporting study was prepared by Stuart Shapiro (Rutgers / Blaustein), who once worked at OMB before social media arrived.
Improving Coordination of Related Agency Responsibilities: The Committee on Collaborative Governance makes recommendations on the perceived problem of overlapping and fragmented procedures associated with assigning multiple agencies similar or related functions, or dividing authority among agencies. In reviewing the report by Jody Freeman (Harvard) and Jim Rossi (Florida State), agencies will need first to determine their jurisdiction, an issue of large concern by itself.
Each set of recommendations and report deserve attention by those affected because they produce the stage setting for some serious debates about the future course of administrative law. Whether the recommendations and reports will have practical impact on that future course of administrative law is for the reader to decide. Happy Memorial Day reading.