Federal Administrative Appeals

Administrative agencies have two major functions, rulemaking and enforcement (adjudication). The Administrative Procedure Act (the “APA”) provides the rulemaking requirements, hearing procedures, and adjudicatory standards and procedures for the agencies.

Once an Administrative Law Judge, Commissioner, or Presiding Officer has issued a formal agency decision, the decision can usually be appealed to a higher entity within the agency.  The agency’s own regulations typically provide for the specific administrative review procedures and remedies.

A litigant who is dissatisfied with a decision rendered by a federal administrative agency, and who has exhausted all administrative remedies, usually may file a petition for review of the agency decision by a court of appeals.

Where Congress has provided an appeals process, the final agency decision can usually be appealed to a federal circuit court of appeals.  Where no provision for appeal has been specified, however, judicial review must be obtained first in a district court rather than a circuit court of appeals.

Some common issues in appeals of administrative agency decisions include:


●Whether the agency acted outside of delegated authority

●The interpretation of statute or regulations

●Whether the agency decision was arbitrary or capricious, or amounted to an abuse of discretion

Ratings and Reviews