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Statement of David M. Welborn
Department of Political Science University of Tennessee
THE CHAIRMANSHIP OF THE
FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION
Task Force on Administration
and Clearing house Committee on House Administration U.S. House of Representatives
May 14, 1980
exercise its broade: odzinistraiive responsibilities, and avoid comprocising
its position as the center for substantive decision-making.
In conclusion, it seems
to me that altering the nature of the FEC
chairwanship is a necessary and desirable first step in increasing the
commission's administrative and policy capacities.
is the preferred means of selection. The tenure question is a trouble
The Harvard recomendation is for a four year term.
balance I would prefer service as chairman at the pleasure of the
For reasons stated above, I think it highly unlikely that such
an arrangement would itself encourage political mischief or threaten to ·
compromise or skew commission implementation of the law.
appointment for a fixed term lessens accountability and makes it difficult
to correct problem situations.
Under such conditions, deficiencies in
performance, whether fron presidential, congressional or other perspective,
would be most difficult to remedy.
Given the importance of the commission
and its effects on the political system, this would be a most unfortunate
There remains specification of the chairman's authority and the limits
to be placed upon it.
A number of statutes employ similar language which
has served quite well over the years and covers the necessary points.
found in the reorganization plan for the Interstate Commerce Commission is
There is vested in the chairman
the executive and administrative functions of the Commission, including functions of the Commission with respect to (1) the appointment and supervision of personnel employed under the Commission, (2) the distribution of business among such personnel and among administrative units of the Commission, and (3) the use and expenditure of funds.
in carrying out any of his functions under the provisions o this section the Chairman shall be governed by general policies of the Commission and by such regulatory decisions, findings, and determinations as the Commission may by law be authorized to make.
The appointment by the Chairman of the heads of major administrative units under the Comuníssion shall be subject to the approval of the Commission.
Personnel employed regularly and full time in the imediate offices. of commissioners other than the Chairman shall not be affected by... (these) provisions.
Requests for regular, supplemental or deficiency appropriations for the Commission...shall require the approval of the Commission....
Such provisions establish a basic and workable framework for agency ad
ministration which centralizes authority, allows commission involvement
in critical determinations, yet is sufficiently flexible to allow for
future adaptation in the conduct of agency affairs as circunstances change. HEARINGS BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON HOUSE ADMINISTRATION'S TASK FORCE
June 18, 1980
Testimony of Stephen L. Babcock, Executive Director, and Richard K. Berg, Executive Secretary, Office of the Chairman of course, it is fair to ask another question: What is wrong with the Commission
of the Administrative Conference of the United States
proceeding by way of advisory opinion rather than by rule? Obviously, one disadvantage from Congress' point of view is that the Congressional review process provided for rules
is avoided. But for critics of statutory provisions for Megislative veto" of agency rules
and the Administrative Conference has criticized such provisions, Recommendation 77-1,
Į C.F.R. S 305.77-1-avoidance of Congressional review is hardly a calamity, and, of
course, Congress is free to overturn by legislation any advisory opinion with which it
But there are disadvantages where the advisory opinion process is unduly emphasized at the expense of the rulemaking process, and my previous testimony has suggested some
of them. First, concentration on the facts of one or a few specific cases may skew the · agency's perception of the overall problem. The advisory opinion process is likely to encourage & cautious, narrow and incremental approach in which each case decides as
little as possible. Sometimes this is desirable, but usually an agency would be better
advised to deal with a problem comprehensively, in the interests both of organizing its
own thinking and of providing maximum guidance to the regulated community.
Second, the rulemaking process is more open. Comprehensive rules adopted after the full notice and comment process of 5 U.S.C. S 553 are likely to reflect a wider and more
considered range of information and comments from interested persons than can be
obtained in the notice-and-comment process provided in section 4371.
Finally, rulemaking is a means whereby the agency can seize control of its agenda.
and address those problems which it believes need resolution.
For these reasons the Commission should be encouraged to use its rulemaking
authority, and Congress should carefully evaluate those features of the statutory scheme
which appear to provide disincentives to rulemaking.
Let me close with a few words on the subject of the organization of the Commission.
vigorous in pursuing finite matters where its mandate is clear while allowing difficult policy questions to languish" (p.135).