73 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2017 Last revised: 27 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 7, 2017
More than one hundred executive departments and agencies operate through systems of regional offices strategically located around the country. Currently, these regions are misguidedly viewed as mere enforcers and implementers of central policies. We propose two alternative visions of federal regions—regions as mediators and regions as coordinators. These two visions have deep roots in the rich but forgotten history of American public administration. When they live up to their potential, regions inject a much needed dose of democracy into the bureaucracy, improve the coordination among federal departments and agencies, and serve as a powerful check on presidential overreach.
As mediators, federal regions mediate between central headquarters on the one hand, and state and local governments on the other hand. Their proximity to the states and regulated populations and industries enables regional offices to counter the democratic deficit that plagues American bureaucracy. Relatively insulated from Washington and state partisan politics, regional officials fuse their expertise with principled politics, and can avoid ceding to the will of the President or his appointees. Our model of federal regions as coordinators envisions them as entities that coordinate among the different departments, agencies, states and localities that operate within their territories.
To support our vision of empowered federal regions that can realize their mediating and coordinating potential, we propose a set of legal doctrines and principles that, combined, constitute a new field of administrative law, what we call “the law of federal regions.” Included among these doctrines are broad subdelegation of powers to regions; greater judicial deference to regional policies and decision-making; and intergovernmental consultation and redelegation at the regional level. The Article argues that our innovative understanding of federal regions gives rise to a promising alternative to both the centralizing-national vision and the state-centered vision of the American administration.
Keywords: regionalism, federal regions, federalism, administrative law, subdelegation of powers, decentralization
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Blank, Yishai and Rosen-Zvi, Issachar, Reviving Federal Regions (March 7, 2017). Stanford Law Review, Vol. 70 (2018 Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2934481