When the U.S. Congress enacts a new law, the Senate and House of Representatives don’t retain responsibility for administering, monitoring and enforcing the provisions of the law. Instead, those duties are delegated to an administrative agency, which creates specific rules, regulations and procedures. These administrative agencies are subject to administrative laws, which:

  • Identify the scope of the agency’s authority
  • Confer enforcement power on the agency
  • Establish guidelines for the development of rules, regulations and procedures
  • Set forth provisions to govern access to information about the agencies

Administrative agencies generally have fairly extensive authority, but must abide by the provisions of the U.S. Constitution, any limitations set forth in state statutes, and the provisions of the federal statute known as the Administrative Procedure Act, enacted in 1946.

Administrative law addresses most interactions between the federal government and private citizens, as well as businesses. Examples of agencies governed by administrative law include the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Internal Revenue Service. Administrative law also covers immigration, broadcasting, international trade and government contracts.