Prepared by the United States Department of Justice Tom C. Clark, Attorney General, 1947.
June 11, 1946, the date on which the Administrative Procedure Act was approved by
President Truman, is notable in the history of the governmental process. The Act sets a pattern
designed to achieve relative uniformity in the administrative machinery of the Federal
Government. It effectuates needed reforms in the administrative process and at the same time
preserves the effectiveness of the laws which are enforced by the administrative agencies of the
Government. The members of the Seventy-Ninth Congress who worked so assiduously on the
McCarran-Sumners-Walter bill showed statesmanship and wisdom in dealing with the difficult
problems thus presented.
The Department of Justice played an active role in the development of the Administrative
Procedure Act. In 1938, at a time when there was criticism of Federal administrative agencies,
Homer Cummings, as Attorney General, suggested to the late President Roosevelt that the
Department of Justice be authorized to conduct a full inquiry into the administrative process. In
response to this suggestion, President Roosevelt requested Attorney General Cummings to
appoint a committee to make a thorough study of existing administrative procedures and to
submit whatever recommendations were deemed advisable. For this purpose the Attorney
General appointed a committee of eminent lawyers, jurists, scholars and administrators.
For a period of two years this committee, known as the Attorney General's Committee on
Administrative Procedure, devoted itself to the study of the administrative process. Its work
culminated in the issuance of 27 monographs on the operations of the more important
Government agencies it had investigated, as well as in a Final Report to the President and to the
Congress. This Final Report is a landmark in the field of administrative law. In fact, the main
origins of the present Administrative Procedure Act may be found in that Report, and in the
so-called majority and minority recommendations submitted by the Committee. These
recommendations were the subject of extensive hearings held before a subcommittee of the Senate
Committee on the Judiciary in 1941.
 There was a lull in legislative activities in the field of administrative law during the next
few years by reason of the impact of war. But when Congress in 1945 resumed consideration of
legislation in this field, the Chairmen of both the Senate and House Committees on the Judiciary
called upon this Department for its assistance. The invitation was accepted, and the task was
assigned to the Office of the Assistant Solicitor General. For many months the members of that
Office assisted in the drafting and revision of the bill (S. 7) which developed into the
Administrative Procedure Act.
Finally, in a letter dated October 19, 1945, to the Chairmen of both Committees on the
Judiciary, I endorsed S. 7 as revised. I concluded that "The bill appears to offer a hopeful
prospect of achieving reasonable uniformity and fairness in administrative procedures without at
the same time interfering unduly with the efficient and economical operation of the Government."
Sen. Rep. 752, 79th Cong., 1st sess., pp. 37-38. The bill then moved in regular course through
both Committees with a few minor modifications (H.R. Rep. 1980, 79th Cong., 2nd sess., p. 57).
It was subsequently adopted by both Houses of Congress without a dissenting vote.
After the Administrative Procedure Act was signed by President Truman on June 11,
1946, it became evident that a major phase of our work had just begun. Government agencies
were calling upon us for advice on the meaning of various provisions of the Act. We endeavored
to furnish that advice promptly and in detail to every agency which consulted us. At length I
decided that we could offer a definite service by preparing a general analysis of the provisions of
the Act in the light of our experience. This manual is the result of that effort. It does not purport
to be exhaustive. It was intended primarily as a guide to the agencies in adjusting their
procedures to the requirements of the Act.
George T. Washington, the Assistant Solicitor General, was assigned the tasks I have just
described--both the rendition of advice to the agencies and the preparation of the manual. He had
assisted in drafting the Act and was familiar with the administrative problems of the agencies.
Two members of his staff, Robert Ginnane and David Reich, took the major burden of the work,
under the supervision and direction of Mr. Washington and myself. The manner in which the task
has been carried out has my full approval.
 While the manual was intended originally for distribution only to Government agencies,
public demand for it has been so great that I have decided to make it generally available. I trust
that it will prove helpful to those who find a need for it.
A word of explanation as to the manner in which the manual is arranged should be helpful.
It has been prepared mainly on a section by section analysis of the Act. Each of the major
sections is treated in a separate chapter. There has been no separate treatment of section 11,
covering the appointment of examiners, since the Civil Service Commission is entrusted with the
responsibilities under that section and is presently engaged in working out the necessary
requirements, assisted by an Advisory Committee of experts designated by the Commission. No
chapter as such is being devoted to either section 2 (definitions) or to section 12 (construction and
effect) for the reason that by themselves they have little meaning except in connection with the
functional aspects of the Act. However, there is a separate chapter on two important phases of
section 2, namely, the coverage of the Act and the fundamental distinction between rule making
Tom C. Clark
August 27, 1947
NOTE CONCERNING MANNER OF CITATION OF LEGISLATIVE MATERIAL
The legislative history of the Administrative Procedure Act really begins with the Final
Report of the Attorney General's Committee on Administrative Procedure (cited hereinafter as
Final Report). This Report led to the introduction in Congress of the so-called majority and
minority bills, respectively designated as S. 675 and S. 674, 77th Cong., 1st sess. These bills,
together with S. 918, formed the basis for the extensive and valuable hearings held in 1941
before a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary (cited hereinafter as Senate
Hearings (1941)). In 1945, the House Committee on the Judiciary held brief hearings (cited
hereinafter as House Hearings (1945)) on various administrative procedure bills, of which H.R.
1203, 79th Cong., lst sess., was the precursor of the present Act. Also in June 1945, the Senate
Committee on the Judiciary issued a comparative print, with comments,, which is an essential
part of the legislative history. The Committee reports on the Act are Sen. Rep. 752, 79th Cong.,
1st sess. (cited hereinafter as Sen. Rep.). and H.R. Rep. 1980, 79th Cong., 2nd sess. (cited
hereinafter as H.R. Rep.). In October 1945, the Attorney General, at the request of the Senate
Committee on the Judiciary, submitted a letter, with memorandum attached, setting forth the
understanding of the Department of Justice as to the purpose and meaning of the various
provisions of the bill (S. 7). This letter and memorandum constitute Appendix B of the Senate
Committee Report and have been printed as Appendix B to this manual.
There may be obtained from the Government Printing Office Sen. Doc. No. 248, 79th
Cong., 2nd sess., entitled "Administrative Procedure Act--Legislative History" (cited hereinafter
as Sen. Doc.), which contains the Senate and House debates on the Administrative Procedure
Act, together with all the documents mentioned above, except the Final Report of the Attorney
General's Committee on Administrative Procedure and the Senate Hearings (1941). Wherever
appropriate, there will be two citations, one to the particular report or hearing in which the
legislative material appears, the other a parenthetical reference to the corresponding page in the
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