Administrative Law Primer: Statutory Definitions of 'Agency' and Characteristics of Agency Independence [May 22, 2014] [open pdf - 285KB]
"Congress has created a variety of federal agencies to execute the law. To this end, agencies may adopt rules to implement laws and adjudicate certain disputes arising under such laws. As such, agencies enjoy considerable power to regulate different industries and affect the legal rights of people. In order to control the manner in which agencies operate, Congress has passed numerous statutes that impose procedural requirements on federal agencies. The Administrative Procedure Act, for example, dictates the procedures an agency must follow to establish a final, legally binding rule. Other statutes govern how agencies must operate internally with respect to hiring and labor practices, the maintenance of federal records, financial management, and a diverse range of other topics. […] Next, the report will explore several important statutes that regulate agencies and these statutes' respective definitions of 'agency.' These statutes include the Administrative Procedure Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Federal Records Act, statutes governing federal employees, and the Paperwork Reduction Act. In interpreting the reach of these statutes, courts have sometimes limited their application based on an agency's operational proximity to the President, or how much control the executive branch has over the entity."
CRS Report for Congress, R43562