What’s Ahead for the Reanimated Administrative Conference of the United States?
From YourABA, Dec. 2010
After a 15-year hiatus, the Administrative Conference of the United States is back and re-energized. During a program in Washington, D.C., titled “ACUS 2.0: The Reincarnation of the Administrative Conference of the United States,” a number of leading experts—including ACUS Chairman Paul R. Verkuil—spoke about the history of the conference, celebrated its reestablishment and looked at future potential areas of study.
James W. Conrad Jr., vice chair of the Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, noted that the resurrection of ACUS—whose mission it is to provide creative advice to improve the fairness and efficiency of federal agency functions—was in part the result of “a small cabal of organizations,” including the ABA, that continued to lobby for reinstatement of ACUS’ funding. These groups recognized, as the ABA explained in its May 20 letter to Congress, that “ACUS cost-effectively leveraged expert academic consultants and volunteer luminaries of the administrative bar to produce an impressive set of recommendations, roughly three-quarters of which were adopted in whole or in part by Congress or the executive branch.”
Verkuil emphasized the mission of the new ACUS by quoting President Barack Obama’s description of it as a “public-private partnership designed to make government work better.” Among the conference’s current projects: e-rulemaking, immigration adjudication, use of sound science in the regulatory process, methods of collaborative governance, regulatory preemption and government contractor ethics.
Panelists also mentioned the changing landscape in which the new ACUS will work — regulation is no longer just a domestic concept, but must address a global environment — and the beauty of the 2.0 concept: the smartest people no longer need to be in the same room to offer suggestions on improving efficiency; the wisdom of a crowd can be obtained in other ways.
Suggestions for future projects were made by panelists, and included the possibility of ACUS serving as a resource for congressional staff by flagging elements of legislation that may pose unrecognized problems, as in certain rulemaking and hearing requirements in the consumer financial protection portion of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory bill; or the possibility of a website that could consolidate state and federal regulatory-related information.
In addition to the Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, the program was sponsored by the George Washington University Law School, Regulatory Studies Center, and Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, and the D.C. Bar Section of Administrative Law and Agency Practice.
“What’s Ahead for the Reanimated Administrative Conference of the United States?” is from the Dec. 2010 issue of YourABA, a e-newsletter for ABA members.