Agency Rule-Making

Agency Rule-Making

One of the main functions of administrative agencies is to create regulations.   Over the past several decades, the volume of the Code of Federal Regulations far surpasses the laws passed by Congress.  Agencies act as ‘expert bodies’ who make laws with specific expertise (unlike Congress).  These regulations are binding law in the same way that legislation, passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President, is - but the rulemaking process is complex, and something most of the American public is unaware of.

“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”

― Madison, Federalist No. 62

All of this begs the question: how are these agencies democratically accountable to the American public?  What are sources of that accountability? What are tradeoffs for relying on agency’ expertise v. Congress in writing laws?

This series discusses how agency rulemaking works in practice:  the scope of agencies’ authority to write regulations, core processes of agency rulemaking (notice and comment rulemaking), the review and scrutiny that rules are subject to, and how agency rulemaking fits in with the democratic process.    

Play the next video in the series?

Watch Now

1 of 5: History of Benefit-Cost Analysis [No. 86]

When and why did administrative agencies start doing cost-benefit analysis? Professor Susan Dudley maps out the history of executive orders that imposed this procedure. President Ronald Reagan formalized the process and every President since has enf ... When and why did administrative agencies start doing cost-benefit analysis? Professor Susan Dudley maps out the history of executive orders that imposed this procedure. President Ronald Reagan formalized the process and every President since has enforced cost-benefit analysis to evaluate regulatory impact.


Susan Dudley is director of the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center and distinguished professor of practice in the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration.

As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.

Subscribe to the series’ playlist:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWwcngsYgoUXTBxtM1cr9ThwGsTTR4XU_