The Independent Regulatory Commissions

The Independent Regulatory Commissions

The Independent Regulatory Commissions

The Independent Regulatory Commissions

Excerpt

In the spring of 1936 I was asked to join the staff of the President's Committee on Administrative Management which had just been set up, and to prepare for the committee during the ensuing four months a memorandum on the independent regulatory commissions. It was suggested that this memorandum should set forth the statutory basis of the commissions, should attempt some analysis of their relations to the three major departments of the federal government, and finally should attempt to formulate any possible alternatives to the independent commission as an administrative device for carrying on the work of regulation. Out of this assignment emerged the proposal for the possible reorganization of the independent regulatory commissions which is discussed on pages 709 ff. of this volume and which was incorporated by the President's committee into its final report to the President in January 1937.

There also emerged from this endeavor a realization that little or nothing was known about the commissions as administrative agencies or about their relations to Congress or the President. Regulatory commissions had been more or less taken for granted and no information was readily available about why they had been created in their present forms or how they were supposed to fit into the general framework of the national government. Nor had any comprehensive attempt been made to explore in this connection the parallel experience of Great Britain in dealing with analogous problems. It seemed clear that a wide and highly important area in the field of public administration lay almost entirely unexplored. The members of the President's committee, Louis Brownlow, Charles E. Merriam, and Luther Gulick, were all keenly interested in promoting research in the field of public administration, particularly in this area. It was accordingly suggested that I should undertake to direct a thoroughgoing and comprehensive study of the . . .

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