Administrative Procedure Act
Published at : 31 Jan 2021
The federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA) of 1946 is representative of US administrative law statutes in trying to promote rationality and lawfulness in agency decision making without imposing overly encumbering procedural requirements. It specifically seeks to prevent decisions that are arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law; contrary to constitutional right, power, privilege, or immunity; in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory right; without observance of procedure required by law; unsupported by substantial evidence; unwarranted by the facts.
These objectives are often augmented by other statutes and executive orders that require agencies to use the best science available, engage in cost-benefit analysis, prepare environmental and other impact statements, or promote substantive values such as vibrant federalism and environmental justice. In administrative law, agency decisions may be either “formal” or “informal.” Although the distinction is imperfect, decisions resulting from activities whose procedures are substantially regulated by administrative law, such as rulemaking and adjudication, are considered formal.
Informal decisions are more likely to involve questions such as which firm to investigate or inspect, how carefully, when, and what enforcement actions, if any, to take. Administrative decisions can also be categorized as retrospective, prospective, or present tense. Administrative law uses a variety of processes to structure formal decisions of each type and to constrain the administrators making them.