Document Type


Publication Date



In his valuable contribution to this special issue, Richard Pierce underscores the role the Administrative Conference of the United States (“ACUS”) has played over the years in encouraging on the ground fact-finding by its consultants, who have usually been academics consulted at the beginning of careers that ever after would be marked by this encounter with the realities of the administrative process. As the mentee of Walter Gellhorn, who directed the remarkable empirical studies of federal agency procedures that underlay the eventual Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) and who was a member of the ACUS Council from its initiation in 1964 until the end of its first active period, perhaps its most active member, it is easy to agree. My own first serious essay into administrative law scholarship, arranged by Walter, was an ACUS project that placed me for two months at the Bureau of Land Management offices in Denver, Colorado, observing how policy decisions concerning land use issues hap pened to arise in both adjudications and rulemakings – and learning that the prevailing supposition that agencies chose from the top which of these procedural routes to pursue was (at least there) unrealistic. Not unimportantly, the empirical research ACUS has promoted – like mine, like Professor Pierce’s, and like the others’ he recounts – has been research requiring physical presence and observation – interviews and facts on the ground more than the disembodied data sets that fuel the “empirical” research of economists and many political scientists. Next to actually serving in an administrative agency (the deepest of educational experiences about the subject we teach), it is research like this that is most likely to free the young scholar from the illusion that administrative law is all about, as Louis Jaffe once put it, “Judicial Control of Administrative Action.” What a contribution, then, ACUS has made not only to improvements in the functioning of government, but also to the way in which administrative law is presented in law school classrooms and written about in the academic literature.


Administrative Law | Law | Law and Politics | President/Executive Department