In the United States, there are hundreds of federal and state government agencies that regulate different functions of industry and consumer safety. Administrative agencies may also be referred to as organizations, commissions, or departments. In addition, each addresses specific policy issues. For instance, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is responsible for emergency response efforts across the nation. The Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) mission is to defend the U.S. by collecting and analyzing information. NGA, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, is responsible for providing combat support through the development of imagery and map-based intelligence. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducts environmental research and ensures industry compliance with environmental regulations and statutes.
At times these agencies work together to solve problems and enforce the regulations for which they are responsible. For example, following complaints in Florida, Louisiana, and Alabama of strong sulfur odors, property damage, and certain health symptoms believed to be caused by defective Chinese drywall, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) opened a $3.5 million investigation to examine allegations. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR) worked together to analyze the problem. In 2009, officials banned imports and notified warehouse owners not to sell their supply of the defective drywall.
When conducting legal research, it is important to understand the roles of the many administrative agencies and how each one influences policy change. This enables you as a researcher to understand how the different agencies apply their authority and which agencies regulate specific policy issues.
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