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A government or state agency, sometimes an appointed commission, is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the
machinery of government The machinery of government (sometimes abbreviated as MoG) is the interconnected structures and processes of government, such as the functions and accountability of ministry (government department), departments in the executive (government), exe ...
that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions, such as an
administration Administration may refer to: Management of organizations * Management, the act of directing people towards accomplishing a goal ** Administrative Assistant, traditionally known as a Secretary, or also known as an administrative officer, admini ...
. There is a notable variety of agency types. Although usage differs, a government agency is normally distinct both from a department or ministry, and other types of public body established by
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, executive, and judiciary. Government ...

government
. The functions of an agency are normally executive in character since different types of organizations (''such as commissions'') are most often constituted in an advisory role—this distinction is often blurred in practice however, it is not allowed. A government agency may be established by either a national government or a state government within a federal system. Agencies can be established by legislation or by executive powers. The autonomy, independence, and accountability of government agencies also vary widely.


History

Early examples of organizations that would now be termed a government agency include the British
Navy Board The Navy Board (formerly known as the Council of the Marine or Council of the Marine Causes) was the Regulatory agency, commission responsible for the day-to-day civil administration of the Royal Navy between 1546 and 1832. The board was headqua ...
, responsible for ships and supplies, which was established in 1546 by King Henry VIII and the British Commissioners of Bankruptcy established in 1570. From 1933, the
New Deal The New Deal was a series of programs, Public works, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States between 1933 and 1939. Major federal programs agencies included the C ...
saw growth in US federal agencies, the " alphabet agencies" as they were used to deliver new programs created by legislation, such as the
Federal Emergency Relief Administration The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) was a program established by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, building on the Hoover administration's Emergency Relief and Construction Act. It was replaced in 1935 by the Works Progress Admi ...
. From the 1980s, as part of New Public Management, several countries including Australia and the United Kingdom developed the use of agencies to improve efficiency in public services.


Australia


Canada


France

Administrative law in France refers to ''autorité administrative indépendante'' (AAI) or Independent Administrative Authorities. They tend to be prominent in the following areas of public policy; * Economic and financial regulation * Information and communication * Defence of citizens' rights Independent Administrative Authorities in France may not be instructed or ordered to take specific actions by the government.


Germany


Greece

The General Secretariat for Macedonia and Thrace ( Greek: Γενική Γραμματεία Μακεδονίας-Θράκης), previously Ministry for Macedonia and Thrace ( Greek: Υπουργείο Μακεδονίας-Θράκης) is a government agency of the
Hellenic Republic Greece,, or , romanized: ', officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country in Southeast Europe. It is situated on the southern tip of the Balkans, and is located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Greece shares land borders with ...
that is responsible for the Greek regions of Macedonia and
Thrace Thrace (; el, Θράκη, Thráki; bg, Тракия, Trakiya; tr, Trakya) or Thrake is a geographical and historical region in Southeast Europe, now split among Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, which is bounded by the Balkan Mountains to th ...
.


Iceland


India

The term ''agency'' in India has several meanings; for example,the Cabinet and the parliament Secretariat describes itselfCabinet Secretariat, Government of India a

accessed June 30, 2006
as a "''nodal agency'' for coordination amongst the ministries of the Govt. of India". Most notably as an international feature, what appear to be independent agencies (''or apex agencies'') include some that have active roles for Ministers: such as, the National Security Council (India), National Security Council, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and the
NITI Aayog The NITI Aayog (; abbreviation for National Institution for Transforming India) serves as the apex public policy think tank of the Government of India, and the nodal agency tasked with catalyzing economic development, and fostering cooperative ...
, which is chaired
ex officio An ''ex officio'' member is a member of a body (notably a board, committee, council) who is part of it by virtue of holding another office. The term '' ex officio'' is Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic la ...
by the Prime Minister.


Russian Federation

Russia has had many government agencies throughout its history. The
USSR The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...

USSR
had the secretive
KGB The KGB (russian: links=no, lit=Committee for State Security, Комитет государственной безопасности (КГБ), a=ru-KGB.ogg, p=kəmʲɪˈtʲet ɡəsʊˈdarstvʲɪn(ː)əj bʲɪzɐˈpasnəsʲtʲɪ, Komitet gosud ...
. Today, Russian government agencies such as the FSB, FSO, and the GRU use
Spetsnaz Spetsnaz are special forces in numerous post-Soviet states. (The term is borrowed from rus, спецназ, p=spʲɪtsˈnas; abbreviation for or 'Special Purpose Military Units'; or .) Historically, the term ''spetsnaz'' referred to the So ...
or other masked operators for any missions. Other organizations include
Kremlin The Kremlin ( rus, Московский Кремль, r=Moskovskiy Kreml', p=ˈmɐˈskofskʲɪj krʲemlʲ, t=Moscow Kremlin) is a fortified complex in the center of Moscow founded by the Rurik dynasty, Rurik dynasty. It is the best known of th ...

Kremlin
and presidential security.


Sweden

The Government agencies in Sweden are State controlled organizations who act independently to carry out the policies of the
Government of Sweden The Government of the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, Konungariket Sveriges regering) is the Cabinet (government), national cabinet of Sweden, and the country's Executive (government), executive authority. The Government consists of the Prime Minister ...
. The Ministries are relatively small and merely policy-making organizations, allowed to control agencies by policy decisions but not by direct orders. This means that while the agencies are subject to decisions made by the Government, Ministers are explicitly prohibited (so-called ban on '' ministerstyre'') from interfering with the day-to-day operation in an agency or the outcome in individual cases as well. In addition to the State and its agencies, there are also local government agencies, which are extensions of municipalities and
county council A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries. Ireland The county councils created under British rule in 1899 continue to exist in Irela ...
s.


United Kingdom

Agencies in the United Kingdom are either executive agencies answerable to government ministers or non-departmental public bodies answerable directly to one of the
parliament In modern politics, and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: Representation (politics), representing the Election#Suffrage, electorate, making laws, and overseeing ...

parliament
s or devolved assemblies of the United Kingdom. They are also commonly known as Quangos. Agencies can be created by enabling legislation by the
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It meets at the Palace of We ...
,
Scottish Parliament
Scottish Parliament
or the
National Assembly for Wales
National Assembly for Wales
. Agencies in England usually answer to Westminster or the British Government. In Scotland, they usually answer to the Scottish Government or the Scottish Parliament and in Wales to the National Assembly for Wales. Some have remits that cover the entire UK and these organizations are funded by and answer to the British Government.


United States

The Congress and
President of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United St ...

President of the United States
delegate specific authority to government agencies to
regulate
regulate
the complex facets of the modern
American
American
federal state. Also, most of the 50
U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, ...
s have created similar government agencies. Each of the 50 states' governments is similar to the national government with all but one having a bicameral legislature. The term "government agency" or "administrative agency" usually applies to one of the
independent agencies of the United States government Independent agencies of the Federal government of the United States, United States federal government are List of federal agencies in the United States, agencies that exist outside the United States federal executive departments, federal executive ...
, which exercise some degree of independence from the President's control. Although the heads of independent agencies are often appointed by the government, they can usually be removed only for cause. The heads of independent agencies work together in groups, such as a commission, board or council. Independent agencies often function as miniature versions of the tripartite federal government with the authority to legislate (through the issuing, or "promulgation" of
regulation Regulation is the management of complex systems A complex system is a system composed of many components which may interaction, interact with each other. Examples of complex systems are Earth's global climate, organisms, the human brain, infra ...
s), to adjudicate disputes, and to
enforce Enforcement Enforcement is the proper execution of the process of ensuring compliance with laws, regulations, rules, standards, and Norm (social), social norms. Governments attempt to effectuate successful implementation of policies by enforc ...
agency regulations (through enforcement personnel). Examples of independent agencies include the
Federal Communications Commission The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent agency of the United States federal government that regulates communications by radio Radio is the technology of signaling and telecommunication, communicating using radio wa ...
(FCC),
Federal Reserve Board The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, commonly known as the Federal Reserve Board, is the main governing body of the Federal Reserve, Federal Reserve System. It is charged with overseeing the Federal Reserve Banks and with helping ...
, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the
National Labor Relations Board The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an Independent agencies of the United States government, independent agency of the federal government of the United States with responsibilities for enforcing United States labor law, U.S. labor law in ...
(NLRB) and the
Federal Trade Commission The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC shares jurisdiction ...
(FTC). A broader definition of the term "government agency" also means the
United States federal executive departments The United States federal executive departments are the principal units of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is ...
that includes the President's cabinet-level departments, and their sub-units. Examples of these agencies include the Department of Energy (DOE) and the
Internal Revenue Service The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the revenue service for the Federal government of the United States, United States federal government, which is responsible for collecting Taxation in the United States, U.S. federal taxes and administerin ...
(IRS), which is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury. Most federal agencies are created by Congress through
statute A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislature, legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, State (polity), state, or country by way of consent. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare Public p ...
s called "
enabling act An enabling act is a piece of legislation Legislation is the process or result of enrolling, enacting, or promulgating laws by a legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Po ...
s" which define the scope of an agency's authority. Because the
Constitution A constitution is the aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity A polity is an identifiable Politics, political entity – a group of people with a collective identity, who ...
does not expressly mention federal agencies (as it does the three branches), some commentators have called agencies the "headless fourth branch" of the federal government. However, most independent agencies are technically part of the executive branch, with a few located in the legislative branch of government. By enacting the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in 1946, Congress established some means to oversee government agency action. The APA established uniform
administrative law Administrative law is the division of law that governs the activities of government agency, executive branch agencies of Forms of government, government. Administrative law concerns executive branch rule making (executive branch rules are gener ...
procedures for a federal agency's promulgation of rules and adjudication of claims. The APA also sets forth the process for
judicial review Judicial review is a process under which executive, legislative and administrative actions are subject to review by the judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and cou ...
of agency action.


See also

*
Classification of the Functions of Government Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG) is a Categorization, classification defined by the United Nations Statistics Division. These functions are designed to be general enough to apply to the government of different countries. The acc ...
*
Government-owned corporation A state-owned enterprise (SOE) is a Government, government entity which is established or nationalised by the ''national government'' or ''provincial government'' by an executive order or an act of legislation in order to earn Profit (econom ...
*
Regulatory agency A regulatory agency (regulatory body, regulator) or independent agency (independent regulatory agency) is a government agency, government authority that is responsible for exercising autonomous dominion over some area of human activity in a licen ...
*
Statutory authority A statutory body or statutory authority is a body set up by law (statute) that is authorised to implement certain legislation on behalf of the relevant country or state, sometimes by being Primary and secondary legislation, empowered or deleg ...
*
Statutory corporation A statutory corporation is a government entity created as a statutory body by statute. Their precise nature varies by jurisdiction, thus, they are statutes owned by a government or controlled by national or sub-national government to the (in so ...


References


Further reading

*
Machinery of Government Reform: Principles and Practice
' in "The Organisation of Central Government Departments: A History 1964–1992", ESRC Whitehall Programme at
Nuffield College Nuffield College () is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford The University of Oxford is a collegiate university, collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, makin ...
, University of Oxford. (accessed October 16, 2018)


External links


Encyclopedic Dictionary of Public Administration, Agency
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