in City Administrative Procedures
RICHARD A. GIVENS
On 8 November 1988, the voters of New York City enacted a new Chapter 45 of the New York City charter, creating an innovative City Adminstrative Procedure Act (CAPA). The question had been submitted by the Charter Revision Commission. By placing this initiative before the voters, who approved it by an almost four-to-one margin, New York City gave the CAPA a magisterial dignity that is difficult for city agencies to ignore; its electoral success could gain nationwide attention.
The CAPA makes several landmark changes that should improve the city's administrative operations in ways that may be relevant in other metropolitan areas. One impetus for its development was a pattern of city agencies' adopting what amounted to binding rules without public notice. Another was the existence in many agencies of unfair combinations of prosecutorial and judicial functions. At the same time, the Charter Revision Commission was interested in establishing standards of fairness and effectiveness in city administration appropriate for the twenty-first century. A third source of some of the innovations was a series of recommendations by the New York State Bar Association's Task Force on Simplification of the Law, which included suggestions for simplification at the municipal level.
The single most salient change adopted by CAPA may be its recommendation (also made by the task force) that city regulations purporting to be binding on outside parties must be published in a single place, indexed by subject, and kept up to date. Otherwise, such laws would be unenforceable. The objective is to create a compilation comparable to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at the city level. A former provision of the charter already required publication of such a compilation, but it had never been consistently carried out.