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Federal Administrative Procedure Act

The Federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA) was enacted in 1946 to provide uniformity, impartiality, and fairness in the procedures employed by federal administrative agencies.  Following the federal lead, most of the states also passed similar statutes during the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The APA embodies comprehensive regulatory scheme that governs aspects such as investigations, adjudications[i], rulemaking[ii], and licensing, open meeting and disclosure requirements of federal agencies.  The Act also guarantees the right of judicial review to any person suffering legal wrong because of any agency action.  Under the APA, all agency action is either rulemaking or adjudication.

The basic purposes of the APA are:

  • to require agencies to make the public informed about their organization, procedures and rules;
  • to provide public participation in the rule making process;
  • to establish uniform standards for the conduct of formal rulemaking and adjudication;
  • to define the scope of judicial review.

Generally, statutes enacted after the Act cannot supersede or modify its provisions.  However, an agency has the discretion to afford parties with procedure that is more than required by the Act.  The provisions of the Act are not violative of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The APA sets standards for the activities and rule making of all federal regulatory agencies. The APA provides federal courts with a framework for reviewing the rules made and procedures used by administrative agencies.  Similarly, individual states have similar statutes to guide their own courts.

[i] 5 USCS § 554

[ii] 5 USCS § 553

Inside Federal Administrative Procedure Act