Independent agencies of the United States federal government are agencies that exist outside the federal executive departments (those headed by a Cabinet secretary) and the Executive Office of the President. In a more narrow sense, the term may also be used to describe agencies that, while constitutionally part of the executive branch, are independent of presidential control, usually because the president's power to dismiss the agency head or a member is limited.
Established through separate statutes passed by the Congress, each respective statutory grant of authority defines the goals the agency must work towards, as well as what substantive areas, if any, over which it may have the power of rulemaking. These agency rules (or regulations), when in force, have the power of federal law.
Independent agencies can be distinguished from the federal executive departments and other executive agencies by their structural and functional characteristics. Congress can also designate certain agencies explicitly as "independent" in the governing statute, but the functional differences have more legal significance.
While most executive agencies have a single director, administrator, or secretary appointed by the President of the United States, independent agencies (in the narrower sense of being outside presidential control) almost always have a commission, board, or similar collegial body consisting of five to seven members who share power over the agency. (This is why many independent agencies include the word "Commission" or "Board" in their name.) The president appoints the commissioners or board members, subject to Senate confirmation, but they often serve terms that are staggered and longer than a four-year presidential term, meaning that most presidents will not have the opportunity to appoint all the commissioners of a given independent agency. The president can normally designate which commissioner will serve as the chairperson. Normally there are statutory provisions limiting the president's authority to remove commissioners, typically for incapacity, neglect of duty, malfeasance, or other good cause. In addition, most independent agencies have a statutory requirement of bipartisan membership on the commission, so the president cannot simply fill vacancies with members of his own political party.
In reality, the high turnover rate among these commissioners or board members means that most presidents have the opportunity to fill enough vacancies to constitute a voting majority on each independent agency commission within the first two years of the first term as president. In some famous instances, presidents have found the independent agencies more loyal and in lockstep with the president's wishes and policy objectives than some dissenters among the executive agency political appointments. Presidential attempts to remove independent agency officials have generated most of the important Supreme Court legal opinions in this area. Presidents normally do have the authority to remove heads of independent agencies, but they must meet the statutory requirements for removal, such as demonstrating that the individual has committed malfeasance. In contrast, the president can remove regular executive agency heads at will.
If the independent agency exercises any executive powers like enforcement, and most of them do, Congress cannot participate in the regular removal process of commissioners. Constitutionally, Congress can only participate directly in impeachment proceedings. Congress can, however, pass statutes limiting the circumstances under which the president can remove commissioners of independent agencies. Members of Congress cannot serve as commissioners on independent agencies that have executive powers, nor can Congress itself appoint the commissioners – the Appointments Clause of the Constitution vests that power in the president. The Senate does participate, however, in appointments through "advice and consent", which occurs through confirmation hearings and votes on the president's nominees.
There is a further distinction between an independent agency and an independent regulatory agency. The Paperwork Reduction Act lists 19 enumerated "independent regulatory agencies". Generally, the heads of independent regulatory agencies can only be removed for cause, whereas Cabinet members and heads of executive agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, serve "at the pleasure of the president". Executive Order 12866, which requires cost-benefit analysis for certain regulatory actions, does not apply to independent regulatory agencies.
The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) was an agency of the federal government of the United States, formed in 1938 and abolished in 1985, that regulated aviation services including scheduled passenger airline service and provided air accident investigation. The agency headquarters were in Washington, D.C.Committee on National Security Systems
The Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) is a United States intergovernmental organization that sets policy for the security of the US security systems.Corporation for National and Community Service
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is a U.S. federal government agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, Senior Corps, and other national service initiatives. The agency's mission is to "support the American culture of citizenship, service, and responsibility". While a government agency, CNCS acts much like a foundation and is the nation’s largest annual grant maker supporting service and volunteering. CNCS, formerly known as the "Corporation for National Service" or "CNS," was created as an independent agency of the United States government by the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993.Energy Research and Development Administration
The United States Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) was a United States government organization formed from the split of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in 1975. It assumed the functions of the AEC not assumed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The agency was created as part of the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, which was passed on October 11, 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis. The act split the Atomic Energy Commission into two new agencies: the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would regulate the commercial nuclear power industry, while the ERDA would manage the energy research and development, nuclear weapons, and naval reactors programs.
The Energy Research and Development Administration was activated on January 19, 1975. The first Administrator was Robert Seamans, followed by Robert W. Fri.
In 1977, ERDA was combined with the Federal Energy Administration to form the United States Department of Energy.Farm Credit Administration
The Farm Credit Administration is an independent agency of the federal government of the United States. Its function is to regulate the financial institutions that provide credit to farmers.Federal Farm Board
The Federal Farm Board was established by the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929 from the Federal Farm Loan Board established by the Federal Farm Loan Act of 1916, with a revolving fund of half a billion dollars to stabilize prices and to promote the sale of agricultural products. The board would help farmers stabilize prices by buying and holding surplus grain and cotton in storage. The Farm Board was part of Herbert Hoover's response to the downward spiral of crop prices in the years leading up to the Great Depression.
Executive Order 6084 of March 26, 1933, effective May 27, 1933, changed its name to the Farm Credit Administration, abolished the functions vested in Federal Farm Board by section 9 of Agricultural Marketing Act, abolished the functions of Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of Treasury as members of Board, and abolished the offices of appointed members of Federal Farm Board, except that of Chairman, which title was changed to Governor of Farm Credit Administration.Federal Home Loan Bank Board
The Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB) was a board created in 1932 that governed the Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLB or FHLBanks) also created by the act, the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC) and nationally-chartered thrifts. It was abolished and superseded by the Federal Housing Finance Board and the Office of Thrift Supervision in 1989 due to the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, as Federal Home Loan Banks gave favorable lending to the thrifts it regulated leading to regulatory capture.Federal Housing Finance Agency
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is an independent federal agency created as the successor regulatory agency of the Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB), the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development government-sponsored enterprise mission team, absorbing the powers and regulatory authority of both entities, with expanded legal and regulatory authority, including the ability to place government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) into receivership or conservatorship.In its role as regulator, it regulates Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the 11 Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBanks, or FHLBank System). It is wholly separate from the Federal Housing Administration, which largely provides mortgage insurance.Federal Housing Finance Board
The Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB) was an independent agency of the United States government established in 1989 in the aftermath of the savings and loan crisis to take over management of the Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs or FHLBanks) from the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB), and was superseded by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) in 2008.The FHFB managed the nation's Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs). The eleven regional FHLBs are privately held government sponsored enterprises that ensure the supply of funds to local lenders that, in turn, finance loans for home mortgages.Federal Maritime Commission
The United States Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is an independent federal agency, based in Washington, D.C., responsible for the regulation of oceanborne international transportation of the U.S.International Broadcasting Bureau
The International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) is the technical support outlet within the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which is a U.S. independent agency. The IBB supports the day-to-day operations of Voice of America (VOA) and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio y Televisión Martí). It also provides transmission and technical support for all of the independent non-military broadcasting services funded by the (BBG). The IBB is located in Washington, D.C.National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is an independent agency of the United States federal government that offers support and funding for projects exhibiting artistic excellence. It was created by an act of the U.S. Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. The NEA has its offices in Washington, D.C. It was awarded Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre in 1995, as well as the Special Tony Award in 2016.National Mediation Board
The National Mediation Board (NMB) is an independent agency of the United States government that coordinates labor-management relations within the U.S. railroads and airlines industries.National War Labor Board (1918–1919)
The National War Labor Board (NWLB) was an agency of the United States government established on April 8, 1918 to mediate labor disputes during World War I.National War Labor Board (1942–1945)
The National War Labor Board, commonly the War Labor Board (NWLB or WLB) was an agency of the United States government established January 12, 1942 by executive order to mediate labor disputes during World War II.United States Maritime Commission
The United States Maritime Commission (MARCOM) was an independent executive agency of the U.S. federal government that was created by the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, passed by Congress on June 29, 1936, and replaced the United States Shipping Board which had existed since World War I. It was intended to formulate a merchant shipbuilding program to design and build five hundred modern merchant cargo ships to replace the World War I vintage vessels that comprised the bulk of the United States Merchant Marine, and to administer a subsidy system authorized by the Act to offset the cost differential between building in the U.S. and operating ships under the American flag. It also formed the United States Maritime Service for the training of seagoing ship's officers to man the new fleet.United States Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome
The United States Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome serves as a link between the Rome-based international organizations and the U.S. government. Other U.S. diplomatic missions in Rome are the Embassy of the United States, Rome, and the Embassy of the United States to the Holy See.United States Office of Personnel Management
The United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that manages the government's civilian workforce. The agency provides federal human resources policy, oversight and support, and tends to healthcare (FEHB) and life insurance (FEGLI) and retirement benefits (CSRS/FERS, but not TSP) for federal government employees, retirees and their dependents.OPM is headed by a director, who is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. On September 2, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Jeff Pon to be OPM's next director. Pon was confirmed by voice vote on March 7, 2018 and served from March 9, 2018 to October 5, when he resigned. Margaret Weichert, Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director for Management, was named acting Director.War Shipping Administration
The War Shipping Administration (WSA) was a World War II emergency war agency of the US government, tasked to purchase and operate the civilian shipping tonnage the US needed for fighting the war. Both shipbuilding under the Maritime Commission and ship allocation under the WSA to Army, Navy or civilian needs were closely coordinated though Vice Admiral Emory S. Land who continued as head of the Maritime Commission while also heading the WSA.
United States articles