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Delay in administrative decisionmaking is a long standing problem that remains unresolved today. In a recent major study of the federal regulatory agencies, the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs noted that "[m]ost federal regulatory proceedings are characterized by seemingly interminable delays." Regulatory agency delay is perceived by practitioners before regulatory agencies and administrative law judges within the regulatory agencies as one of the most serious problems facing those agencies. Agency delay is extremely costly to regulated industries and to the public, both as taxpayer and as consumer. According to the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, undue delay is a serious problem in the agency decisionmaking processes of licensing, adjudication, ratemaking, and enforcement. Similarly, notice and comment rulemaking is sometimes slower than agency adjudication.

This article examines judicial efforts to control administrative delay. It will discuss jurisdictional grounds, substantive standards (primarily the Administrative Procedure Act, and due process of law), and judicial remedies for administrative delay. Federal and state cases will be examined in the sections on substantive standards and remedies. Only federal cases will be discussed in the jurisdiction section.


Gregory L. Ogden is a Law and Humanities Teaching Fellow and Lecturer-in-Law, Temple University School of Law, Philadelphia, Pa.; B.A., University of California at Los Angeles, 1970; J. D., University of California at Davis, 1973; LL.M., Temple University, 1978. In the 1978-79 school year, Mr. Ogden will be Associate Professor of Law, Pepperdine University School of Law.

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