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Administrative Agency

History Of Administrative Agency

The first administrative agency was created by Congress in 1789 to provide pensions for wounded Revolutionary War soldiers. Also in the late 1700s, agencies were created to determine the amount of duties charged on imported goods, but it was not until 1887 that the first permanent administrative agency was created. The INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION (ICC), created by the INTERSTATE COMMERCE ACT (49 U.S.C.A. § 10101 et seq. [1995]), was enacted by Congress to regulate commerce among the states, especially the interstate transportation of persons or property by carriers. The ICC was designed to ensure that carriers involved in interstate commerce provided the public with fair and reasonable rates and services. To buttress the Interstate Commerce Act, the Federal Reserve System was established by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 (12 U.S.C.A. § 221) to serve as the United States' central bank and execute U.S. monetary policy. One year later, the Federal Trade Commission was established by Congress to promote free and fair competition in interstate commerce by preventing unfair methods of competition.

In 1908, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was established to investigate violations of federal laws not assigned to other federal agencies. The FBI is charged with solving crimes such as KIDNAPPING, ESPIONAGE, sabotage, bank ROBBERY, EXTORTION, interstate transportation of stolen property, CIVIL RIGHTS violations, interstate gambling violations, FRAUD against the government, and the assault or killing of a federal officer or the president. As an agency concerned with criminal apprehension, the FBI is considered an arm of the government, and its directorship is subject to presidential approval. However, the FBI carries out its investigations independent of political influence. It can, for example, probe the actions of presidents and legislators, the very persons responsible for its existence.

Administrative agencies are usually created in response to a felt public need. Some older agencies, for example, were created after the Civil War to address economic matters critical to the United States' expanding government. After the STOCK MARKET crash of October 1929, and during the Great Depression of the 1930s, Congress created numerous agencies in an effort to regulate the production and marketing of goods. Agencies such as the SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (created by the SOCIAL SECURITY ACT OF 1935 [42 U.S.C.A. § 301 et seq.]), the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (established by a 1933 amendment to the Federal Reserve Act, 12 U.S.C.A. § 264, and now codified at 12 U.S.C.A. §§ 1811–1831) helped provide financial security for many Americans. The NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL RECOVERY ACT (NIRA) (15 15 U.S.C.A. §§ 701 et seq., 40U.S.C.A. § 401 et seq.) created the NATIONAL RECOVERY ADMINISTRATION to ensure fair market competition. However, the NIRA gave the president limitless authority to impose sanctions, and it was declared invalid by the Supreme Court in the "Sick Chicken" case, SCHECHTER POULTRY CORP. V. UNITED STATES, 295 U.S. 495, 55 S. Ct. 837, 79 L. Ed. 1570 (1935). The National Labor Relations Board (created by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 [29U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq.], later amended by acts of 1947 and 1959) also helped to ease the devastating effects of the depression, by protecting employees' rights to organize, preventing UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES, and promoting COLLECTIVE BARGAINING between employers and LABOR UNIONS.

Congress installed the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) in 1927 after entrepreneurs discovered the commercial potential of radio airwaves. In 1934, the FRC was merged into the FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (FCC), which was created by the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq.) to tackle the myriad issues presented by the sudden widespread use of radio waves. In the wake of television's popularity, the Communications Satellite Act of 1962 (47 U.S.C.A. §§ 701–744) was enacted by Congress to broaden the FCC's powers to include regulation of television broadcasting; telephone, telegraph, and CABLE TELEVISION operation; two-way radio and radio operation; and satellite communication.

When the United States entered WORLD WAR II, more agencies were created or enlarged to mobilize human resources and production and to administer price controls and rationing. The social upheaval of the 1960s spawned agencies designed to improve urban areas, provide opportunities for people who were historically disadvantaged and marginalized, and promote artistic endeavors. In the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, pressing issues such as human and environmental health were addressed through the creation of agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and a new, enlarged DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY.

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