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Better, fairer government: Verkuil to discuss how on April 24

April 11, 2014

Former Dean Paul Verkuil is set to discuss the Administrative Conference of the United States, which he chairs, on April 24 at Tulane Law School.

Former Dean Paul Verkuil is set to discuss the Administrative Conference of the United States, which he chairs, on April 24 at Tulane Law School.

Can video hearing technology improve efficiency at high-volume federal agencies, such as those dealing with veterans and immigration cases? What meticulously gathered evidence can help tighten ethics rules for government contractors? How will operations be affected by requiring that governing boards adhere more closely to open-meetings requirements of the Government in Sunshine Act? When do federal regulations preempt state action, and when do they best work in tandem?

Those are just a few issues being tackled by the Administrative Conference of the United States, an independent, nonpartisan agency chaired by former Tulane Law School Dean Paul Verkuil.

On April 24, Verkuil will discuss the work of the conference, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary. The next day, he will be among seven exemplary Tulanians honored by the Law School as the second class of Hall of Fame inductees.

Verkuil’s lecture is scheduled for noon at the Law School’s Marian Mayer Berkett Multipurpose Room. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required at lawalumnirelations@tulane.edu.

President Barack Obama nominated Verkuil in 2009 to lead the ACUS. The agency was authorized by legislation signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson 1964, but Congress ended funding in 2005. Operations restarted after the Senate approved Verkuil in March of 2010.

The Administrative Conference is a public-private partnership whose members — agency heads, general counsels, law firm partners, public interest advocates and legal academics — study how agencies actually function, then devise consensus-driven recommendations to improve government operations.

In an anniversary video, Verkuil describes ACUS as “an agency that worries about other agencies,” encouraging them to “think beyond their own boundaries” and cooperate with others to make government fairer and more efficient.

“By engaging highly focused and overworked bureaucrats with the world of scholarly analysis, ACUS facilitates an exchange of views that enhances the quality of administrative management,” he wrote in a law review essay.

Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Antonin Scalia, who often disagree on the law, joined together to urge that Congress revive the conference. Scalia chaired the agency in 1972-74 and called it “one of the best bargains, results for the buck, that the government had.”


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