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Delay in administrative decisionmaking is a serious problem that can be resolved only by the combined efforts of the courts, the agencies, and the legislatures that have created the agencies. The gravity of the delay problem at the federal agency level is indicated by the recent statement of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, in a major study, that "[m]ost federal regulatory proceedings are characterized by seemingly interminable delays." Agency delay adds additional costs and imposes additional burdens on both the regulated industries and the consuming and taxpaying public. This article analyzes the problem of agency delay by examining procedural standards for timeliness, judicial review of agency procedures, procedural reforms, and the role of the legislatures in establishing administrative agencies and in controlling administrative delay.

The first three sections of the article — standards, procedural review, and reforms — focus on the interrelationship between delayed decisionmaking and the procedures used by agencies to carry out the decisionmaking processes mandated by the enabling statutes which establish particular agencies. They will deal with procedural standards, such as those contained in the federal Administrative Procedure Act (A.P.A.), and will focus specifically on those standards that seek to ensure prompt agency action. Alternative ways to frame such standards will be discussed and will be evaluated for effectiveness.

Judicial review of agency procedures, when those procedures are challenged because of undue delay, will then be examined.


Gregory L. Ogden is an Associate Professor of Law at Pepperdine University School of Law, where he teaches Administrative Law and other courses. Professor Ogden would like to gratefully acknowledge the skillful editorial and research assistance of Daryl Fisher-Ogden, Esq., his wife, on this article and a prior article, "Judicial Control of Administrative Delay," 3 U. DAY. L. REV. 345 (1978).

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