Will ACUS Be Up and Running Soon?
by Matthew Madia, 11/5/2009
The White House announced Nov. 2 that President Obama intends to nominate lawyer and scholar Paul Verkuil to chair the beleaguered Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), according to BNA news service (subscription). Click here for his bio as provided by his current firm.
ACUS was resurrected in 2008, but without a new leader, it has been unable to get to work. Congress appropriated $1.5 million to ACUS for FY 2009 (which ended Sept. 30), but the money went unused.
FY 2010 spending bills under consideration of Congress (yes, Congress is behind schedule again) also include $1.5 million for ACUS. ACUS may also use up to half of its FY 2009 budget, bringing the grand total to $2.75 million. Of course, it will still need a leader, whether it’s a Senate-confirmed Verkuil or an interim appointee, to make spending decisions.
ACUS was created in 1968 as an independent agency with a small staff assisted by outside experts in administrative law, government processes, judicial review and enforcement, and agency regulatory processes. The conference had a reputation for producing high-quality, independent, nonpartisan analysis and is credited with issuing more than 200 recommendations, many of which were implemented, as well as a variety of reports and studies on how to improve government. ACUS was dismantled in 1995 as part of the new Republican agenda to reduce the size of government.
Given that the vacancy is preventing an entire agency from functioning, the White House should have settled on a nominee sooner. But hopefully, the news of Verkuil’s forthcoming nomination will provide a spark that will get ACUS up and running.