May Urges Return of Administrative Conference of the U.S.
WASHINGTON D.C. - A renewed Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), which Congress defunded in 1995, would yield far more than its $3 million annual budget in real cost savings through more efficient and fair agency procedures, Progress & Freedom Foundation Senior Fellow Randolph May argues. In a column in the National Law Journal, May applauds Congress for reauthorizing ACUS through 2007 and urges that the authorized funding be appropriated.
From 1968 to 1995, ACUS played a significant role in advising agencies on laws affecting their practices, such as the Freedom of Information Act and the Sunshine Act. Its principal legislative charge was to study the efficiency, adequacy and fairness of the procedures employed by federal agencies, and to make recommendations for agency reform to the president and Congress. It had a unique structure that involved government officials and private sector members in a constructive collaborative effort. May was a private-sector member of ACUS from 1994-1995, and he is presently Chair of the American Bar Association's Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice.
"The public gets its money's worth in ACUS," May writes, "not only in proposals that lead to real cost savings, but also in recommendations that lead to more efficient and fair agency procedures, the value of which can't, and shouldn't, be measured in dollars." May notes that U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer both testified in favor of renewing ACUS before Congress in May.
"There are important new issues a reconstituted ACUS could address," says May, "for example, by studying how agencies can use new technologies to operate more efficiently while at the same time increasing citizen-agency interaction, by refining the use of alternative dispute resolution techniques to reduce administrative litigation costs, and by encouraging the proper use of scientific knowledge and technical experts in agency policymaking to achieve the most cost-effective regulation."
"Even in a time of tight budgets," May writes, "Congress could do much worse than appropriate $3 million to bring ACUS back."
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.