ACUS Chairman Confirmed

On March 3, the Senate confirmed Paul Verkuil to serve as chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS). The confirmation was approved by unanimous consent. The term for ACUS chairman lasts five years.

Most recently, Verkuil worked for the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP. Click here for a bio.

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 advocates say that the reforms ACUS recommends save the government more money than it takes to fund the agency (usually only a few million dollars). ACUS was dismantled in 1995 as part of Newt Gingrich’s contract with America.

ACUS was resurrected in 2008, but, without a new leader, it has been unable to get to work. President Bush did not nominate anyone to lead ACUS, and President Obama did not nominate Verkuil until Nov. 3, 2009.

Now, it looks like ACUS can finally get on its feet. The agency has a $1.5 million budget for the remainder of FY 2010, which goes until Sept. 30, 2010. However, any leftover funds may be used in FY 2011.

I think it’s important that ACUS begin working before Congress starts voting on FY 2011 spending bills, otherwise, it may risk losing funding next year. (At the very least, ACUS could launch a website, even a primitive one, quickly and cheaply.) In a year when politicians will be apt to seize upon any reason to make it appear as though they are cutting spending, it’s critical that ACUS have something tangible to show appropriators.

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