Limitations on Agencies

The three branches of government exercise numerous controls over agencies. For example, Congress is responsible for creating and empowering agencies as well as defining an agency's role.5 Congress has also developed the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) (5 USC §§501-506) which sets forth various standards for all agency actions. The executive branch controls the nomination of agency

3. The EPA can also delegate the authority to implement regulations to a state environmental agency. Many states, for instance, have their own water discharge permit programs which they implement themselves. Others do not. This delegation, however, does not change the executive function which agencies—state or federal—possess.

4. Some significant differences between agency adjudications and standard civil bench trials include relaxed rules of evidence. Pretrial discovery (information-gathering) rules may also be different.

5. Enabling legislation is typically the law that creates an agency, gives it authority, and defines its role.

directors and administrators. However, these upper-level appointments are subject to confirmation by the Senate. Congress and the executive branch also control an agency's budget. These provisions translate into a large amount of control over an agency. Finally, courts define and limit agency action. They review agency decisions within the judicial framework of statutory and common law.

Due process is one of the most fundamental legal principals which courts apply to agencies when reviewing their relationship to and treatment of citizens. The term is found in the fifth and fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The fifth amendment states that "No person [shall] be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law."6

Due process generally implies sufficient notice and a right to a hearing. It involves the application of certain procedures which seek to assure fairness, participation, accuracy, and checks on the concentration of power in government's hands.

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