Governance of Federal Regulatory Agencies

Governance of Federal Regulatory Agencies

Governance of Federal Regulatory Agencies

Governance of Federal Regulatory Agencies

Excerpt

Small groups of public officials--among whom are the several members, chairmen, and from time to time key staff members of the various regulatory commissions--meet frequently in conference rooms scattered about Washington, D.C., to make decisions based upon broad discretionary authority conferred by Congress. The decisions of these officials shape economic activity in the nation in important ways: Prices of basic commodities and services, such as energy, transportation, and communications, are affected; and the structure and practices of important industrial sectors are influenced by the policy statements, rules, and orders which are forthcoming. Collectively, as the designated leaders of the commissions, the members and chairmen function as major instruments with which the national government exercises substantial power over the economy.

Seven regulatory commissions--the Civil Aeronautics Board, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Maritime Commission, the Federal Power Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Interstate Commerce Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission--are the subjects of the analysis to follow. Other commissions are engaged in the regulation of economic activity, including long-established agencies, such as the Federal Reserve Board and the National Labor Relations Board, and some of recent creation, such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A large number of regulatory programs are carried out by still other agencies lacking commission features, such as the Food and Drug Administration in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and the Environmental Protection Agency. But the "Big Seven," as they are often characterized, have a special . . .

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