Government agency

Last updated

A government or state agency, sometimes an appointed commission, is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions, such as an administration. There is a notable variety of agency types. Although usage differs, a government agency is normally distinct both from a department or ministry, and other types of public body established by government. The functions of an agency are normally executive in character since different types of organizations (such as commissions) are most often constituted in an advisory role—this distinction is often blurred in practice however, it is not allowed.



Early examples of organizations that would now be termed a government agency include the British Navy Board, responsible for ships and supplies, which was established [1] in 1546 by King Henry VIII and the British Commissioners of Bankruptcy established [2] in 1570.

From 1933, the New Deal saw growth in US federal agencies, the "alphabet agencies" as they were used to deliver new programs created by legislation, such as the Federal Emergency Relief Administration.

From the 1980s, as part of New Public Management, several countries including Australia and the United Kingdom developed the use of agencies to improve efficiency in public services.




Administrative law in France refers to autorité administrative indépendante (AAI) or Independent Administrative Authorities. They tend to be prominent in the following areas of public policy;

Independent Administrative Authorities in France may not be instructed or ordered to take specific actions by the government.



The General Secretariat for Macedonia and Thrace (Greek: Γενική Γραμματεία Μακεδονίας-Θράκης), previously Ministry for Macedonia and Thrace (Greek: Υπουργείο Μακεδονίας-Θράκης) is a government agency of the Hellenic Republic that is responsible for the Greek regions of Macedonia and Thrace.



The term agency in India has several meanings; for example, the Cabinet and the parliament Secretariat describes itself [3] as a "nodal agency for coordination amongst the ministries of the Govt. of India". Most notably as an international feature, what appear to be independent agencies (or apex agencies) include some that have active roles for Ministers: such as, the National Security Council, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and the Planning Commission, which is chaired ex officio by the Prime Minister.

Russian Federation

Russia has had many government agencies throughout its history. The USSR had the secretive KGB. Today, Russian government agencies such as the FSB, FSO, and the GRU use Spetsnaz or other masked operators for any missions. Other organizations include Kremlin and presidential security.


The Government agencies in Sweden are State controlled organizations who act independently to carry out the policies of the Government of Sweden. The Ministries are relatively small and merely policy-making organizations, allowed to control agencies by policy decisions but not by direct orders. This means that while the agencies are subject to decisions made by the Government, Ministers are explicitly prohibited (so-called ban on ministerstyre ) from interfering with the day-to-day operation in an agency or the outcome in individual cases as well.

In addition to the State and its agencies, there are also local government agencies, which are extensions of municipalities and county councils.

United Kingdom

Agencies in the United Kingdom are either executive agencies answerable to government ministers or non-departmental public bodies answerable directly to one of the parliaments or devolved assemblies of the United Kingdom. They are also commonly known as Quangos.

Agencies can be created by enabling legislation by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, Scottish Parliament or the National Assembly for Wales.

Agencies in England usually answer to Westminster or the British Government. In Scotland, they usually answer to the Scottish Government or the Scottish Parliament and in Wales to the National Assembly for Wales.

Some have remits that cover the entire UK and these organizations are funded by and answer to the British Government.

United States

The Congress and President of the United States delegate specific authority to government agencies to regulate the complex facets of the modern American federal state. Also, most of the 50 U.S. states have created similar government agencies. Each of the 50 states' governments is similar to the national government with all but one having a bicameral legislature. The term "government agency" or "administrative agency" usually applies to one of the independent agencies of the United States government , which exercise some degree of independence from the President's control. Although the heads of independent agencies are often appointed by the government, they can usually be removed only for cause. The heads of independent agencies work together in groups, such as a commission, board or council. Independent agencies often function as miniature versions of the tripartite federal government with the authority to legislate (through the issuing, or "promulgation" of regulations), to adjudicate disputes, and to enforce agency regulations (through enforcement personnel). Examples of independent agencies include the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Reserve Board, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

A broader definition of the term "government agency" also means the United States federal executive departments that includes the President's cabinet-level departments, and their sub-units. Examples of these agencies include the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury.

Most federal agencies are created by Congress through statutes called "enabling acts" which define the scope of an agency's authority. Because the Constitution does not expressly mention federal agencies (as it does the three branches), some commentators have called agencies the "headless fourth branch" of the federal government. However, most independent agencies are technically part of the executive branch, with a few located in the legislative branch of government. By enacting the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in 1946, Congress established some means to oversee government agency action. The APA established uniform administrative law procedures for a federal agency's promulgation of rules and adjudication of claims. The APA also sets forth the process for judicial review of agency action.

See also

Related Research Articles

Administrative law is the body of law that governs the activities of administrative agencies of government. Government agency action can include rule making, adjudication, or the enforcement of a specific regulatory agenda. Administrative law is considered a branch of public law.

A quango or QUANGO is a quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation. It is typically an organisation to which a government has devolved power, but which is still partly controlled and/or financed by government bodies. As its name suggests, a quango is a hybrid form of organization, with elements of both non-government organizations (NGOs) and public sector bodies. The concept is most often applied in the United Kingdom and, to a lesser degree, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and other English-speaking countries.

In the United Kingdom, non-departmental public body (NDPB) is a classification applied by the Cabinet Office, Treasury, the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to quangos. NDPBs are not an integral part of any government department and carry out their work at arm's length from ministers, although ministers are ultimately responsible to Parliament for the activities of bodies sponsored by their department.

Eastern Macedonia and Thrace administrative region of Greece

Eastern Macedonia and Thrace is one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It consists of the northeastern parts of the country, comprising the eastern part of the region of Greek Macedonia along with the region of Western Thrace, and the islands of Thasos and Samothrace.

The State Security Service, also known by its original name as the State Security Administration, was the secret police organization of Yugoslavia. It was at all times best known by the acronym UDBA, which is derived from the organization's original name in the Serbo-Croatian language: "Uprava državne bezbednosti". The acronyms SDB (Serbian) or SDS (Croatian) were used officially after the organization was renamed into "State Security Service". In its latter decades it was composed of eight semi-independent secret police organizations—one for each of the six Yugoslav federal republics and two for the autonomous provinces—coordinated by the central federal headquarters in the capital of Belgrade.

An administrative law judge (ALJ) in the United States is a judge and trier of fact who both presides over trials and adjudicates claims or disputes involving administrative law.

Government of Pakistan National government

The Government of Pakistan abbreviated as GoP, is a federal government established by the Constitution of Pakistan as a constituted governing authority of the four provinces two autonomous territories and one federal territory of a parliamentary democratic republic, constitutionally called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Secretariat of the Interior

The Mexican Secretariat for Home Affairs is the public department concerned with the country's domestic affairs, the presenting of the president's bills to Congress, their publication on the Official Journal of the Federation, and certain issues of national security. The country's principal intelligence agency, CISEN, is directly answerable to the Secretary of the Interior. The Secretary is a member of the President's Cabinet and is, given the constitutional implications of the post, the most important Cabinet Member. Additionally, in case of absolute absence of the President, the Secretary of Interior assumes the executive powers of the President provisionally. The Office is practically equivalent to Ministries of the Interior in most other countries and is occasionally translated to English as Ministry, Secretariat or Department of the Interior.

Deputy Minister for Macedonia and Thrace

The Deputy Minister for Macedonia and Thrace is the government minister in charge of Greece's Sub-Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace, part of the Ministry of the Interior.

Government of Romania

The Government of Romania forms one half of the executive branch of the government of Romania. It is headed by the Prime Minister of Romania, and consists of the ministries, various subordinated institutions and agencies, and the 42 prefectures. The seat of the Romanian Government is at Victoria Palace in Bucharest.

A statutory corporation is a corporation created by the state. Their precise nature varies by jurisdiction, thus, they might be ordinary companies/corporations owned by a government with or without other shareholders, or they might be a body without shareholders that is controlled by national or sub-national government to the extent provided for in the creating legislation.

The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions is a ministry of the Government of India in personnel matters specially issues concerning recruitment, training, career development, staff welfare as well as the post-retirement dispensation.

Federal administration of Switzerland Executive branch of the federal authorities of Switzerland

The federal administration of Switzerland is the ensemble of agencies that constitute, together with the Swiss Federal Council, the executive branch of the Swiss federal authorities. The administration is charged with executing federal law and preparing draft laws and policy for the Federal Council and the Federal Assembly.

Ministry of Defence (Pakistan)

The Ministry of Defence, is an executive ministry of the Government of Pakistan, tasked in defending Pakistan's national interests and values at home and abroad. It plays a major role in controlling the Pakistan government and the Pakistan Armed Forces and coordinates with a range of domestic, foreign and inter-governmental bodies.

Executive agency

An executive agency is a part of a government department that is treated as managerially and budgetarily separate, to carry out some part of the executive functions of the United Kingdom government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government or Northern Ireland Executive. Executive agencies are "machinery of government" devices distinct both from non-ministerial government departments and non-departmental public bodies, each of which enjoy a real legal and constitutional separation from ministerial control. The model was also applied in several other countries.

Ombudsman Official representing the interests of the public

An ombudsman, ombudsperson, ombud, ombuds, or public advocate is an official who is charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration or a violation of rights. The ombudsman is usually appointed by the government or by parliament but with a significant degree of independence. In some countries, an inspector general, citizen advocate or other official may have duties similar to those of a national ombudsman and may also be appointed by a legislature. Below the national level, an ombudsman may be appointed by a state, local, or municipal government. Unofficial ombudsmen may be appointed by, or even work for, a corporation such as a utility supplier, newspaper, NGO, or professional regulatory body.

Following the 2010 United Kingdom general election, the UK Government announced plans to curb public spending through the abolition of a large number of quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations (quangos). On 23 May 2010, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne unveiled a £500million plan to reduce the budget deficit by abolishing or merging many quangos. This was styled in the national press as a "bonfire of the quangos", making reference to Girolamo Savonarola's religiously inspired Bonfire of the Vanities. The cuts and closures received criticism in some quarters, but was generally welcomed by the business community.

Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace

The Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace is a former ministry of Greece. Responsible for the regions of Macedonia and Thrace, since 2015 it has been demoted to the level of a sub-ministry within the Ministry of the Interior. The incumbent Deputy Minister for Macedonia and Thrace is Stavros Kalafatis of New Democracy.

Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace

The Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace is one of the seven decentralized administrations of Greece, consisting of the peripheries of Central Macedonia and Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Seated in Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia.

The state agencies that form Thailand's public sector consist of several types of functioning bodies. While some agencies established by mandate of the constitution are independent, others are directly or indirectly answerable to the executive of the Royal Thai Government. The majority of these are government agencies, which employ the civil service as well as the military. Others include public organizations and state enterprises.


  1. A brief history of the Royal Navy, Royal Navy Museum, accessed at June 9, 2006,
  2. Macleavy, J. and O. Gay (2005) The Quango Debate, House of Commons Library Research Paper 05/30, p. 8 accessed at "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-06-19. Retrieved 2006-06-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India at , accessed June 30, 2006

Further reading