Independent Agencies

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You may wonder about this as an activity dealing with either “Congress” and/or “The Presidency.” Yet it is wholly appropriate, because for a federal administrative agency to exist, it must be established by Congress with an enabling act (and retains an oversight function), and the President, who is charged with executing the laws, is frequently given authority over many of the federal departments/agencies.

As you are probably at least somewhat familiar with some of the federal departments (Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury and Veterans Affairs), select one of the other independent administrative agencies (i.e., those that do not come under a Department) from this list:

Federal Departments (C-I)

Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board

Commodity Futures Trading Commission

Consumer Financial Protection Agency

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board

Environmental Protection Agency

Federal Communications Commission

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Federal Election Commission

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Federal Labor Relations Authority

Federal Reserve Board

Federal Trade Commission

General Services Administration

International Trade Commission

Federal Departments (M-U)

Merit Systems Protection Board

National Aviation and Space Administration

National Credit Union Administration

National Endowment for the Arts

National Endowment for the Humanities

National Labor Relations board

National Mediation Board

National Science Foundation

National Technology Transfer Center

National Transportation Safety Board

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Peace Corps

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

Securities and Exchange Commission

Selective Service System

Small Business Administration

Smithsonian Institute

United States Postal Service

Once you have selected one, respond to these questions regarding the independent agency.

  1. What is its function (i.e., with which specific delegated power(s) did Congress imbue this agency)? (For example, for the Federal Aviation Administration, it is to “encourage the development of civil aeronautics and safety of air commerce in and outside the United States.”)
  2. Specifically where in the United States Code (U.S.C.) does one find this delegation (i.e. what is the title and section with that language)? (NOTE: for the Federal Aviation Administration it would be 49 U.S.C. § 40104(a).)
  3. Who is charged with this delegation (e.g., is it a board, a commission, an administrator, etc.)? (NOTE: For example, for the Federal Aviation Administration, it would be the “Administrator.”)
  4. How is the agency to fulfill its tasking (e.g., licensing, certifications, etc.)? What power does it have for compliance (e.g., civil fines, criminal actions, etc.)?
  5. What individual(s) currently hold(s) the position(s)? (NOTE: For example, at the time of development the then-current Acting Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration was Dan Elwell.)
  6. Do you think Congress should alter its grant of delegated authority to this agency (e.g., grant additional power(s), restrict power(s), or even abolish the agency), and, if so, in what manner(s), and why (i.e., explanation)/rationale)?
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