Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2016


During the twentieth century, one of the most important developments in American government and politics was the expanding power of administrative agencies of all kinds. The enactment of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) of 1946 was the crucial event in the course of this expansion. The APA was the culmination of long-term efforts to regulate the decision-making of administrative agencies, and it reflected a significant political compromise. This paper traces the outlines of that reflection. In Part I, it reviews the political background leading up to the proposal of the legislation in the 79th Congress that became the APA. In Part II, it reviews the circumstances surrounding how the APA developed and was eventually enacted during 1945 and 1946. Part III discusses the evolution of the definitions of the crucial statutory terms that categorized agency and culminated in Section 2 of the APA. Parts IV-VI describe how the APA regulated agency rulemaking, agency adjudication, and the judicial review of agency action respectively.