Administrative Discretion

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  • The authority given by the legislature to an agency to make a choice or judgment about how to implement a program or statute. Among the details left to administrative discretion is the promulgation of regulations. The agency is free to issue regulations “in accordance with the sound exercise of discretion” (U.S. General Accounting Office, 2004). When the legislature leaves the details of implementation to the agency, “there is an express delegation of authority to the agency to elucidate a specific provision of the statute by regulation” (Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 1984), and “any ensuing regulation is binding in the courts unless procedurally defective, arbitrary or capricious in substance, or manifestly contrary to the statute” (Flynn John J. v. CmsnrIRS, 2001):

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