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Power to Charge Fees for Services

Federal statute provides that each service or thing of value provided by an administrative agency to an individual shall be charged for in such a way as to make the agency service provided self-sustaining to the fullest extent[i].  Per statute an agency cannot be comprised of a mixed-ownership government corporation.  Similarly, a person who can be charged does not include a person on official business of the U.S. Government.

Statute provides that in order to become self-sufficient the head of each agency should prescribe regulations establishing the charge or fees for a service or thing of value provided by the agency[ii].  However, regulations prescribed by the heads of executive agencies are subject to policies prescribed by the President and shall be as uniform as practicable[iii].

The charge for a service fixed by an administrative agency should be fair and based on[iv];

  • the costs to the Government,
  • the value of the service or thing to the recipient,
  • public policy or interest served,
  • other relevant facts

The power of administrative heads to prescribe regulations does not affect a law of the U.S. prohibiting the determination, collection and disposition of charges.  Also, the power does not affect a law prescribing bases for determining charges[v].  The power to charge fees does not include the power to levy taxes[vi].  In Department of Ecology v. Theodoratus, 135 Wn.2d 582 (Wash. 1998) court held that an administrative agency which has discretionary authority to grant or renew a permit, may impose conditions on any such grant or renewal.

[i] 31 USCS § 9701(a)

[ii] 31 USCS § 9701(b)

[iii] id.

[iv] id.

[v] 31 USCS § 9701(c)

[vi] Vanceburg v. Federal Energy Regulatory Com., 571 F.2d 630 (D.C. Cir. 1977)


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