The Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) was established under Administrative Conference Act of 1968. According to 5 USCS § 591, purpose of the act is to provide suitable arrangements to federal agencies for cooperatively studying mutual problems, exchanging information, and developing recommendations for action by proper authorities. Accordingly the act aims to ensure protection of private rights, and to effectively implement regulatory actions, and other federal responsibilities in public interest.
ACUS consists of heads of administrative agencies, private lawyers, university professors, various federal officials, and other experts in administrative law and government. Members of ACUS conduct studies of problems that exist in federal administrative agencies’ procedures and formulate solutions.
ACUS’s functions are to make recommendations for fair and efficient administration of federal agencies. It is both an independent agency and a federal advisory committee. However, ACUS cannot enact or enforce its recommendations as law. But, ACUS carries great weight in formulating procedures and policies of federal administrative agencies.
Powers and duties of ACUS are enumerated under 5 USCS § 594. Primarily, ACUS studies the efficiency, adequacy, and fairness of administrative procedures used by federal agencies to carry out their programs. After conducting the studies, ACUS provides appropriate recommendations to the U.S. President, Congress, or the Judicial Conference of the U.S. ACUS also arranges for exchange of information required to improve administrative process between federal agencies. Usually, ACUS collects information and statistics from federal agencies. ACUS publishes reports from this information for evaluating and improving administrative methods. ACUS enters into arrangements with other administrative agencies to jointly perform the functions provided under 5 U.S.C.A. § 594.
When foreign administrators request advice for improving their administrative procedure, ACUS provides assistance. This function of ACUS is subject to concurrence of the Secretary of State or the Administrator of the Agency for International Development. However, such assistance will be limited to analysis of issues relating to administrative procedure, provision of training of foreign officials in administrative procedure, and design improvement of administrative procedure. These actions indicate expertise of ACUS members. Moreover, such assistance includes all direct and indirect administrative costs. It will be a fully reimbursable function of ACUS.
ACUS has provided its greatest influence in introducing and supporting use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques in federal agency practice.