Agency Finance in the Age of Executive Government

35 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2016

See all articles by Michael Greve

Michael Greve

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty; American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

Christopher DeMuth


Date Written: June 20, 2016


The rise of “executive government” has prompted a great deal of public debate and scholarly theorizing. This article examines one aspect of that very large subject: agency budgets or, more precisely, revenues. To an unprecedented extent, regulatory agencies have come to rely on non-appropriated funds for their ordinary operations. Many have become self-financing; some have become profit centers for wider executive exertions — and for Congress. We trace this development in two areas: agencies’ delegated authority to tax, and agency finance through settlement with private parties in criminal or civil enforcement proceedings. Due to a paucity of reliable data, our presentation is necessarily sketchy and tentative. We nonetheless proceed (with the appropriate caution) in the hope of informing a scholarly debate over “the administrative state” that to our minds has become excessively abstract and formalistic. Agency self-finance bears on many of the central themes of administrative and constitutional law: delegation and the separation of powers; congressional oversight; agency independence; the choice between rulemaking and enforcement or adjudication; and judicial review. Approaching the administrative state from its most pedestrian front opens a window both into its actual operation and constitutional rule-of-law questions.

Keywords: administrative law, deferred prosecution agreements, delegation, financial regulation, settlements, spending power, tax power

JEL Classification: K2, K20, K23

Suggested Citation

Greve, Michael and DeMuth, Christopher, Agency Finance in the Age of Executive Government (June 20, 2016). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 16-25. Available at SSRN: or

Michael Greve (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

American Enterprise Institute (AEI) ( email )

1150 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Christopher DeMuth


No Address Available

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