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Powers of Administrative Agencies by Mind Map: Powers of Administrative Agencies
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Powers of Administrative Agencies

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Legislative Powers

Substantive Rule Making

Regulations, like statutes, have the force of law; those covered by them must adhere to them or suffer the consequences (fines, penalties, imprisonment). The Administrative Procedures Act requires that the following procedures be followed in order to adopt a regulation: Publication of the proposed rule making in the Federal Register with the date, time, location and nature of the rule proposed; Allow interested persons to participate via hearings; Review and respond if necessary to the public comment; and Adopt the rule.

Interpretive Rule Making

Interpretive Rules: rules which explain existing statutory language or rules. No new law is established, so no public notice or involvement is  required; e.g. private letter ruling from the IRS which interprets for a particular taxpayer a particular provision of the tax code.

Statements of Policy

Announce a future course of action the agency seeks to pursue. No force of law; e.g. the EPA wants to reduce emissions from cars by 50% by 2010.

Licensing Powers

  In order to regulate certain businesses and professions, the government requires a license to participate in that business or profession; e.g. television station, doctor.

Executive Powers

Executive powers of administrative agencies is the authority to investigate and prosecute those who violate the regulations and statutes for which the agency has responsibility.

Administrative Subpoena

  Order from the agency directing recipient to disclose, produce or make available information requested. Failure to comply with subpoena will result in a court order requiring compliance. Failure to comply with aforesaid court order may result in contempt of court order and penalties. Broad requests in the nature of “fishing expeditions” are prohibited.

Administrative Searches

  For many agencies, inspection of a physical site (office, warehouse) is critical to investigation and enforcement of agency regulations. Agency inspections are searches subject to the limitations of by the Fourth Amendment guaranty against unreasonable searches and seizures. An agency inspection/search will be reasonable (comply with the 4th Amendment) if: The party agrees to the inspection/ The inspection is conducted based on a validly issued search warrant. Warrantless searches are permissible in emergency situations. Certain businesses are subject to warrantless searches due to the nature of the industry (firearms). Hazardous industries are often subject to statutory warrantless searches because of the nature of the business (coal mines, nuclear power plants). Evidence which violates the 4th Amendment will be inadmissible in court.    

Judicial Powers


Often agencies are granted authority to adjudicate disputes that arise under their administrative rules, regulations and statutory provisions. The agency will serve a complaint on the party alleged to have violated the administrative law (the respondent). Agency adjudicative proceedings are subject to the due process guaranty of the Constitution: Procedural due process requires the respondent receive proper notice of the charges against her and the opportunity to present evidence. Substantive due process requires that the rule, regulation or law be clear and unambiguous.

Procedures for Adjudication

Procedures for administrative adjudication Administrative proceedings are conducted by an administrative law judge (ALJ), there are no jury trials. Both the agency and the respondent have the right to be represented by counsel. Witnesses are subject to direct and cross examination just as in a traditional trial. Following the hearing, the ALJ will issue an order deciding the case and setting forth the reasons for the decision. The order is final so long as no appeal is filed. Appeals may be heard by the agency or the federal court depending on the requirements set out in the statute or regulations governing the agency.

Judicial Review

Judicial Review of Administrative Agency Actions: Statutes and the Administrative Procedures Act provide for judicial review of agency action by appeal to the appropriate federal court   Conditions for judicial review: Case must be ripe for review Exhaustion of all administrative remedies Decision of agency must be final   Standard of judicial review: Questions of law such as the interpretation of a statute—a reviewing court is free to substitute its own judgment for that of the agency. Questions of fact are not as easily overturned as the fact finder (ALJ who saw and heard the evidence first hand) is given great deference. Arbitrary, capricious abuse-of-process test—standard of review applied to informal decisions such as rule-making and licensing says that to overturn the decision of the ALJ his decision must have been arbitrary and without basis; rarely will this standard of review result in reversal. Substantial-evidence test is the standard used to review formal decision making; the court will examine the entire record to determine whether the agency decision is supported by the evidence. Unwarranted-by-facts test—rarely used but permits the reviewing court to conduct a new trial.