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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, Administrative Assistant, traditionally known as a Secretary, or also known as an admini ...
. There is a notable variety of agency types. Although usage differs, a government agency is normally distinct both from a department or
ministry Ministry may refer to: Government * Ministry (collective executive), the complete body of government ministers under the leadership of a prime minister * Ministry (government department), a department of a government Religion * Christian ...
, 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 is a ...
. 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 commission responsible for the day-to-day civil administration of the Royal Navy between 1546 and 1832. The board was headquartered within the ...
, 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 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 Civilian Cons ...
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. From the 1980s, as part of
New Public Management New Public Management (NPM) is an approach to running public service organizations that is used in government and public service institutions and agencies, at both sub-national and national levels. The term was first introduced by academics in the ...
, 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 The Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace ( el, Υπουργείο Μακεδονίας και Θράκης, ΥΜΑΘ) is a former ministry of Greece. Responsible for the regions of Macedonia and Thrace, since 2015 it has been demoted to the level ...
(
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
: Γενική Γραμματεία Μακεδονίας-Θράκης), previously
Ministry for Macedonia and Thrace The Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace ( el, Υπουργείο Μακεδονίας και Θράκης, ΥΜΑΘ) is a former ministry of Greece. Responsible for the regions of Macedonia and Thrace, since 2015 it has been demoted to the level ...
(
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
: 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 t ...
.


Iceland


India

The term ''agency'' in India has several meanings; for example,the Cabinet and the parliament
Secretariat Secretariat may refer to: * Secretariat (administrative office) * Secretariat (horse) Secretariat (March 30, 1970 – October 4, 1989), also known as Big Red, was a champion American thoroughbred racehorse who is the ninth winner of the Ame ...
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 The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous body responsible for co-ordinating agricultural education and research in India. It reports to the Department of Agricultural Research and Education, Ministry of Agriculture. Th ...
, 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, meaning literally 'from the office', and the sense intended is 'by right ...
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 transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, it was nominally a federal union of fifteen nationa ...
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 The Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, rus, Гла́вное управле́ние Генера́льного шта́ба Вооружённых сил Росси́йской Федера́ци ...
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 ...
and presidential security.


Sweden

The Government agencies in Sweden are
State State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, United States * ''Our S ...
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 national cabinet of Sweden, and the country's executive authority. The Government consists of the Prime Ministerappointed and dismissed by the Speaker of the ...
. The
Ministries Ministry may refer to: Government * Ministry (collective executive), the complete body of government ministers under the leadership of a prime minister * Ministry (government department), a department of a government Religion * Christian mi ...
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 A municipality is usually a single administrative division having corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is subordinate. The term ''municipality'' may also mean the go ...
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 An executive agency is a part of a government department that is treated as managerially and budgetarily separate, to carry out some part of the executive functions of the United Kingdom government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government or Nor ...
answerable to
government ministers A minister is a politician who heads a ministry, making and implementing decisions on policies in conjunction with the other ministers. In some jurisdictions the head of government is also a minister and is designated the ‘prime minister’, ...
or
non-departmental public bodies In the United Kingdom, non-departmental public body (NDPB) is a classification applied by the Cabinet Office, Treasury, the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to public sector organisations that have a role in the process of na ...
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 ...
s or devolved assemblies of the United Kingdom. They are also commonly known as
Quango A quango or QUANGO (less often QuANGO or QANGO) is an organisation to which a government has devolved power, but which is still partly controlled and/or financed by government bodies. The term was originally a shortening of "quasi-NGO", where NG ...
s. Agencies can be created by enabling legislation by the
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It meets at the Palace of Westminster, London. It alone possesses legislative suprema ...
,
Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; sco, Scots Pairlament) is the devolved, unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood area of the capital city, Edinburgh, it is frequently referred to by the metonym Holyro ...
or the
National Assembly for Wales The Senedd (; ), officially known as the Welsh Parliament in English language, English and () in Welsh language, Welsh, is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, unicameral legislature of Wales. A democratically elected body, it makes ...
. 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 A congress is a formal meeting of the representatives of different countries, constituent states, organizations, trade unions, political parties, or other groups. The term originated in Late Middle English to denote an encounter (meeting of a ...
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 Stat ...
delegate specific authority to government agencies to regulate the complex facets of the modern
American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the "United States" or "America" ** Americans, citizens and nationals of the United States of America ** American ancestry, pe ...
federal state A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a central federal government ( federalism). In a federation, the self-governi ...
. Also, most of the 50
U.S. state In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory where it shares its sover ...
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 United States federal government are agencies that exist outside the federal executive departments (those headed by a Cabinet secretary) and the Executive Office of the President. In a narrower sense, the term refers ...
, 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 Tripartite means composed of or split into three parts, or refers to three parties. Specifically, it may also refer to any of the following: * 3 (number) * Tripartite language * Tripartite motto * Tripartite System in British education * Triparti ...
federal government with the authority to
legislate Legislation is the process or result of enrolling, enacting, or promulgating laws by a legislature, parliament, or analogous governing body. Before an item of legislation becomes law it may be known as a bill, and may be broadly referred to a ...
(through the issuing, or "promulgation" of
regulation Regulation is the management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In systems theory, these types of rules exist in various fields of biology and society, but the term has slightly different meanings according to context. For ...
s), to
adjudicate Adjudication is the legal process by which an arbiter or judge reviews evidence and argumentation, including legal reasoning set forth by opposing parties or litigants, to come to a decision which determines rights and obligations between the p ...
disputes, and to
enforce Enforcement is the process of ensuring compliance with laws, regulations, rules, standards, or social norms. Enforcement may also refer to: * Law enforcement, a system organized to enforce the law * Enforcement of foreign judgments, the recogn ...
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, television, wire, satellite, and cable across the United States. The FCC maintains jurisdiction ...
(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 System. It is charged with overseeing the Federal Reserve Banks and with helping implement the mon ...
,
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is an independent agency of the United States federal government, created in the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The primary purpose of the SEC is to enforce the law against market ...
(SEC), the
National Labor Relations Board The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an independent agency of the federal government of the United States with responsibilities for enforcing U.S. labor law in relation to collective bargaining and unfair labor practices. Under the Natio ...
(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 ov ...
(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 Federal government of the United States, executive branch of the federal government of the United States. They are analogous to Ministry (government department), minis ...
that includes the President's cabinet-level departments, and their sub-units. Examples of these agencies include the
Department of Energy A Ministry of Energy or Department of Energy is a government department in some countries that typically oversees the production of fuel and electricity; in the United States, however, it manages nuclear weapons development and conducts energy-rel ...
(DOE) and the
Internal Revenue Service The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the revenue service for the United States federal government, which is responsible for collecting U.S. federal taxes and administering the Internal Revenue Code, the main body of the federal statutory ta ...
(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 legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, state, or country by way of consent. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. Statutes are rules made by le ...
s called "
enabling act An enabling act is a piece of legislation by which a legislative body grants an entity which depends on it (for authorization or legitimacy) the power to take certain actions. For example, enabling acts often establish government agencies to car ...
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, organisation or other type of Legal entity, entity and commonly determine how that entity is to be governed. When ...
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. A court with authority for judicial review may invalidate laws, acts and governmental actions that are incompat ...
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 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 for the governmen ...
*
Regulatory agency A regulatory agency (regulatory body, regulator) or independent agency (independent regulatory agency) is a government authority that is responsible for exercising autonomous dominion over some area of human activity in a licensing and regulatin ...
*
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 ...


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 in England. It is a graduate college and specialises in the social sciences, particularly economics, politics and sociology. Nuffield is one of Oxford's newer co ...
, University of Oxford. (accessed October 16, 2018)


External links


Encyclopedic Dictionary of Public Administration, Agency
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