An administrative agency is an organization set up by a federal or state government to manage a particular aspect of the law. For example, because Congress is incapable of micromanaging aviation and air travel security, Congress established the Federal Aviation Administration and transportation security administration to run these aspects of law and regulation.
Federal administrative agencies are established and empowered by federal enabling acts and the powers can be amended or withdrawn by statute. Though delegated its authority by congressional act, federal administrative agencies are part of the executive branch of government, which means that they report to the president.
Heads of administered agencies are “principal officers” of the United States who must be confirmed by the Senate before taking office.
Agencies often write regulations that build on or clarify federal statutes in the area. Agencies are also empowered to establish their own quasi-court systems and engage in limited fact-finding and to assess civil, and sometimes even criminal, penalties.
Because they make regulations, enforce the law and conduct fact-finding on various levels, administrative agencies are sometimes referred to as all three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial) rolled into one.