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Agency Delegation to Subordinates

Delegation is the process of giving permission by the head of a department to the subordinates to do  work or to make decisions.  Although the subordinates are authorized to do the work, the responsibility still remains with the head or the superior.  Delegation is important as without it, it would be very difficult for a director/head to complete all of his/her tasks.

Similarly administrative agencies can also delegate their functions or powers both under federal and state laws.  Delegation of powers by an administrative agency to its subordinates is sub-delegation because powers of administrative agencies are already delegated to it by other branches of government.  An administrative agency cannot delegate those powers which are characterized as legislative or judicial and they should be performed solely by the agency/individual who is identified in the legislation.  If the legislation provides wide discretionary power to the administrative agency then that agency can use that discretion  for delegation when specific circumstances arise.

Administrative functions can be delegated by the agency without any hindrance.  But only those persons on whom powers are directly vested can exercise the function of delegation.[i]  An agency has the power to delegate those powers which are expressly mentioned in the statute or which can be implied from the nature of that particular agency or department.  Further, the person or agency responsible for delegation must take sufficient safeguards against capricious exercise of power by the subordinates.[ii] The delegation of powers and functions to subordinates is deemed to be unconstitutional if the delegation is not within the range of authority of the delegating agency.

[i] Facilitec, Inc. v. Hibbs, 206 Ariz. 486, 488 (Ariz. 2003)

[ii] Macpherson v. Dep’t of Admin. Servs., 340 Ore. 117, 135-136 (Or. 2006)

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