Powers and functions of administrative agencies are interchangeable – meaning administrative powers can be executive, legislative, or judicial in nature. These agencies are vested with the responsibility to interpret guidelines consistently in order to avoid arbitrary and capricious results. Administrative agency decisions can be reversed as arbitrary or capricious if the decisions lack fairness and if it fails to indicate any course of reasoning and the exercise of judgment[i].
The Legislature is considered to be the main source of power of an administrative agency. Administrative agencies only carry the powers conferred upon them either by the statute or by the constitution. Administrative agencies derive their powers from their enabling legislation and it cannot exceed that power which is granted by the legislature[ii]. However, administrative agencies do not carry any inherent, general or common law powers[iii].
Generally, most of the administrative agencies have investigative, rulemaking, and determinative functions. Additionally, some statutory schemes permits administrative enforcement, and some administrative agencies are given express authority to reconsider, amend, correct, or modify orders.
An administrative agency must act within its authority even if its action is determined to be legally incorrect at a later stage[iv].
[i] ACT-UP Triangle v. Commission for Health Servs., 345 N.C. 699, 707 (N.C. 1997)
[ii] Pima County v. Pima County Law Enforcement Merit Sys. Council, 211 Ariz. 224, 227 (Ariz. 2005)
[iii] Arizona State Bd. of Regents ex rel. Arizona State Univ. v. Arizona State Personnel Bd., 195 Ariz. 173, 174 (Ariz. 1999)
[iv] Custer County Action Ass’n v. Garvey, 256 F.3d 1024 (10th Cir. 2001)