Administrative Procedure Act

Essay by jamiej November 2008

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The APA encourages public participation in the policymaking process and requires participation be made available to citizens before a rule may become public policy. Public agencies must allow for citizen participation. This is accomplished though means such as public hearings. The framers of the APA enacted the public participation procedure to increase citizen involvement in the policymaking process as a means to remedy the unchecked power of New Deal agencies.

The APA was put into law in 1946 with its primary goal being to “Shape the relationship between the people and their government” (Morrison, 1986, p. 253). It was initially conceived in 1939 with the appointment of the U.S. Attorney General’s Committee on Administrative Procedure to analyze the need for reform in federal agencies. Prior to the conclusion of the committee’s activities, Congress passed the Walter-Logan Bill to reform federal and state agency practices. The American Bar Association (ABA) supported the bill.

In 1940, however, President Franklin Roosevelt vetoed the Walter-Logan Bill, citing the fact that the recommendations for administrative reform from the Attorney General’s Committee had yet to be formulated (Gellhorn, 1986).

In 1941 the Attorney General’s Committee filed its completed report. But reform efforts were delayed due to the United States’ entry into World War II. The Attorney General’s Report stated that there were no requirements of notice to the public and hearings or of consultation with outside interests. Citizens were not given notice of rule changes or the opportunity to comment on rule changes prior to the APA. The Attorney General’s Report found no evidence that agencies had scheduled public hearings or public meetings. This indicated that agencies did not allow the public to be represented in the policymaking process. Prior to the APA, communication between government agencies and the citizens they served was limited. The...