Number: 105-8
Date: March 2, 1998



On February 25,1998, the House passed by a vote of 241-176, H.R. 1544. the Federal Agency Compliance Act. The bill requires agencies, in most cases, to follow appellate court rulings when administering policies or regulations and to stop adopting non-acquiescence policies. The bill has been forwarded to the Senate for consideration.

Companion legislation in the Senate, S. 1166, the Federal Agency Compliance Act, was introduced by Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell on September 11, 1997, and referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary. No action has been taken on the bill by the Committee.

As passed by the House, H.R. 1544 contains the following provisions of interest:

  • The bill would require all federal agencies in administering a statute, rule, regulation, program or policy within a judicial circuit adhere to precedents established by the United States courts of appeals for that circuit. All employees of an agency, including administrative law judges, are required to adhere to such precedents.
  • Agencies are not required to adhere to such precedents if it is not certain whether the administration of the statute, rule, regulation or policy will be subject to review by the court of appeals for that circuit or another circuit; if the government did not seek further review of case because the government was not a party to the suit or because the suit was substantially favorable to the government; or if it is reasonable to question the continued validity of the precedent because of subsequent decision of that court of appeals or of the United States Supreme Court, because of a subsequent change in statute or regulation, or any other subsequent change in public policy or circumstance on which the precedent was based.
  • In addition, the bill would require that the officers of any agency of the United States shall ensure that the conduct of litigation unnecessarily repetitive litigation on questions of law consistently resolved against the position of the United States in precedents established in the courts of appeals for three or more judicial circuits. The bill sets out factors to be considered in determining whether litigation is unnecessarily repetitive.