The Concept of Administrative Agencies

History of Administrative Agencies

The Congress created the first federal agency, Interstate Commerce Commission, in 1887 to control commercial trucking and railroads between states. The agency had the right to enforce legislation against companies influencing the prices and railroad rates. In 1995, the Congress closed this agency and gave all its functions to The Surface Transportation Board. According to the USA government (2017), today this board “regulates and decides disputes involving railroad rates, railroad mergers or line sales, and certain other transportation matters” (para. 48). The majority of existing administrative agencies were created in the period between 1930 and 1960, the other thirds appeared in later years. Nowadays, dozens of agencies are involved in lawmaking process in the states, supporting the work of federal bodies

Functions of Administrative Agencies

Administrative agencies are assigned to help the Congress in the process of lawmaking. The supporters underline that the agencies consist of experts in particular fields who can evaluate the practical usefulness of the laws passed by the government. The Congress provides certain guidelines to the agencies for the creation of rules and regulations. The decisions of agencies can be enforced as laws, but their powers are limited by standards listed in administrative acts. Courts can require the help of agencies in obtaining judicial resources needed for the cases.

Agencies Regulate the Economy

Globalization inevitably leads to the growth of large international companies and their influence on the market. Administrative agencies regulate the activities of banks and various organizations to provide equal possibilities and competition for companies and individual entrepreneurs preventing the occurrence of monopolies. It is common for businesspeople, industrialists, and financial corporations to conceal important facts and statistics about their activities to protect themselves from law enforcements. Nevertheless, free market requires free exchange of knowledge between buyers and sellers. Administrative agencies create barriers to the concealment of information from customers and investors. Moreover, they prevent discrimination of individuals and groups in provision of goods and services.

Agencies Regulate Public Sphere

Apart from economic sphere, administrative agencies regulate certain aspects of public sphere. Limitation of employment possibilities and discrimination of certain groups and individuals on their work places is a permanent issue in the modern world. Race, gender, religion, and social status play a decisive role for many employers around the globe in their attitude to their workers. Administrative agencies limit possibilities of organizations and individual entrepreneurs in discrimination of their employees. Various broadcasting advertisements can create hindrances to the police, fire, and military in case of emergency.

Administrative agencies limit broadcasting time of commercial organizations and individuals on television, radio, and other means of mass communication. Moreover, administrative agencies create legislative support for healthy environments on work places and recreation areas.

Agencies Regulating Provision of Goods and Services

Without legislative regulation, free market supports the provision of any goods and services including slave trade, sexual services, and drug dealing of any kind. Rules and regulations issued by administrative agencies limit the possibilities for such activities. Public education, health care, and defense services need support from the agencies to be available for all people. According to USA government (2017), agencies for healthcare research and quality “support research to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans” (para. 13). Existing agencies for education, defense, and other public services provide equal access for all people to them. Moreover, administrative agencies ascertain the provision of public goods to all members of the society independently of their race, gender, or religion.

Differences between Agencies and Federal Departments

Administrative agencies have distinct differences in their structural characteristics compared to federal departments. They are much less vulnerable to political control. The president appoints directors, administrators, and secretaries of federal departments. The commissions of administrative agencies include up to seven members who have equal rights. They have to obtain a confirmation from the Senate to be appointed on their post by the president, but they usually serve longer than four years. This means that the president never gets a possibility to appoint all commissioners in an administrative agency. Moreover, in the majority of agencies, commissioners represent different parties, and the president cannot remove them without “good cause”. Only the Congress can directly act against rules and regulations adopted by agencies.

Powers of Administrative Agencies

Administrative agencies have a wide range of powers assigned to them by various acts. They have the right to give licenses to the organizations that aim to start a production. For example, no chemical plant can be opened without a permission from the Environmental Protection Agency that “protects people and the environment from significant health risks, sponsors and conducts research, and develops and enforces environmental regulations” (USA Government, 2017, para. 18). Apart from that, administrative agencies regulate and limit the rates charged by companies. This is one of their core rights as the first agency created in 1885 regulated railroad rates in commercial transportation. In addition, administrative agencies can regulate business practices to eliminate unfair and deceptive strategies implemented by organizations and individual entrepreneurs.

Environmental Protection Agency

An example of administrative agencies is needed to illustrate their work in the context of rulemaking and regulation of activities. The main goal of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect people and nature from health risks and pollution. The agency uses the latest research results to reduce environmental risks in the work of various industries, power plants, the utilization of hazardous wastes, and the use of pesticides. Various laws issued by the agency regulate the activities of the organizations and individual entrepreneurs to reduce the rates of pollution and environmental damage inflicted by production activities, transportation, and agriculture. The agency aims to integrate protection of population and environment in the policies of the U.S.

Activities of the Environmental Protection Agency

To achieve its aims and goals the Environmental Protection Agency implements a variety of activities. The agency develops and enforces rules and regulations that limit the impact of productive activities of various companies and individual entrepreneurs on the environment and the health of population. The industries must follow the rates of pollutions and environmental damage stated by the agency. Sponsoring of environmental programs, research projects, and institutes is crucial for the development of new technologies that will help to reduce health risks inflicted by the industries and agriculture. The Environmental Protection Agency builds network of organizations protecting the environment to achieve their goals on the national scale.

Bureaucratic Challenges in the Environmental Protection Agency

Bureaucracy is a common issue in all agencies. The Environmental Protection Agency is not an exception. Any violation from the organizations or individual entrepreneurs start a long and complex process of investigation and negotiation before any action is taken. Even if the agency comes to a definite resolution, the influence of large companies can change its decisions. Four years after the explosion of the oil drilling rig in 2010 resulting in massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the agency allowed British Petroleum to continue its partnership with the federal government. It remains unclear what oversight of the Deepwater Horizon has been made after the explosion.


Administrative agencies have a wide range of powers and rights that they can implement with the support of the Congress. They regulate the economic and public spheres in the society and can act independently from the president. Nevertheless, bureaucracy greatly limits the efficiency of actions taken by the agencies what calls for the limitation of their rights and powers.


USA Government. (2017). A-Z index of U.S. government departments and agencies. Web.

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DemoEssays. "The Concept of Administrative Agencies." September 25, 2022.