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Functions of Administrative Law and its role in Public Administration

Administrative law is the branch of law that governs the activities of administrative agencies of government that are involved in the daily functions of the states activities. Some of these government agency actions include making rules, arbitration, or the enforcement of a specific regulatory plan. Generally, administrative law is a branch of public law. The administrative law integrates several different areas of law of which some of them are regulations and procedures of government bodies and agencies, administrative rules, enforcement of powers of government agency authority, and restriction of access to government information. The administrative law gives special importance to the powers vested in administrative agencies, the legal relationships of such agencies, the public at large and to other government agencies as well, and the substantive rules made by these agencies too. It enshrines the laws and legal principles that govern the regulation of government agencies and administration whose powers are delegated by Congress. These agencies may be state or Federal agencies, and administrative law therefore comes in to act as a representative for the executive. Overall, the administrative agencies are created for the purpose of protecting the public interest rather than vindicating private rights.

The creation of state and Federal agencies under administrative law goes back to the 1900s when the Food and Drugs Act was signed into law leading to the subsequent formation of the Food and Drugs Administration, also known as the FDA late in the 1930s. The creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, sometimes commonly referred to as The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA or USEPA, came into being in the late 1970s. These agencies are under the jurisdiction of the Federal government and they are tasked with the respective responsibilities governed by the administrative law. However, these Federal agencies are not autonomous of the U.S. Congress, but are rather governed by the U.S. Congress, which is the overall law-making body in the land. Any by-laws made by these Federal agencies that are inconsistent with the U.S. constitution are deemed as going against the law; hence, they are revised to be within the law.

The FDA, created in the early thirties, came about because of the pressure mounted by consumer protection organizations, journalists and other federal regulators that pushed for a stronger regulatory authority. They went ahead to publish a list of harmful products that had been passed as fit under the 1906 law. This law extensively increased the federal regulatory authority on drugs and food substances. The FDA also enforces other laws that are concerned with health and sanitation, and among these laws are the Public Health Act, the Federal Anti-tampering Act, and the Controlled Substances Act among others. The Law mandates a pre-market review of all new drugs’ safety in addition to banning all ‘unsafe’ products (Karki, 2005). It also authorizes factory inspections and extended enforcement powers in order to set best regulatory standards for foods and cosmetics in order to ensure the safety of the citizens. The major areas that FDA is involved in include new drugs, advertising and promotion of prescription drugs, generic and over-the-counter drugs, vaccines, blood tissue products and biotechnology, cosmetics, radiation-emitting devices, and veterinary products (Hilts, 2003).

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is Federal Government agency mandated with the responsibility of protecting human health and the environment alike. It is directly under the authority of the White House. This is accomplished by enforcing written regulations on the environmental conservation policies based n the Congress-passed laws. Some of the tasks that it is charged with are prevention and detection of environmental degradation actions, educating the public on environmental enforcement, and setting and monitoring the pollution standards, be they air or water pollution arising from the dumping of harmful waste materials and chemicals. Some of the major areas that EPA is involved in include pesticide control. Here, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) is taken into account. Other areas are promoting the use of safer detergents that would minimize pollution effects, improving the air quality, reduction of oil pollution, encouraging water efficiency and ensuring that drinking water is safe for consumption by the citizens. Global warming and greenhouse gas emissions are also dealt with by EPA.

As detailed above, these agencies appear to be very helpful in the administration of laws and Acts as set by the Congress. Although they do not operate independently of the Congress, they operate ‘on behalf’ of the Congress by enforcing the set laws and regulations at the grassroots level. These agencies are most effective because they come into direct contact with the citizens and the products, and hence they are in a very good position to enforce the laws accordingly. In this century where there is a great revolution in the manufacturing industry, the introduction of new technology and improvement of lifestyles, there is a great need for the checks and balances to be enforced, and no better way than through these federal and state agencies. Hence these agencies come in and play a vital role in the enforcing of these checks and balances according to the U.S. laws enacted by congress. This way, the people are better protected from any potential harmful products and the environment is protected from degradation by encouragement of proper waste disposal and management.

As a conclusion, it can be said that these federal agencies are very crucial and necessary in this century where development is on the increase, and they serve to ensure people make the right choices by being given the right options. 



Hilts, P. J. (2003). Protecting America's Health: The FDA, Business, and One Hundred Years of Regulation. New York: Alfred E. Knopf.

Karki, L. (2005). Review of FDA Law Related to Pharmaceuticals: The Hatch-Waxman Act, Regulatory Amendments and Implications for Drug Patent Enforcement. Journal of the Patent & Trademark Office Society 87: 602–620.

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