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Independent agencies of the United States government

Independent agencies of the United States federal government are agencies that exist outside the federal executive departments (those headed by a Cabinet secretary) and the Executive Office of the President. In a more narrow sense, the term may also be used to describe agencies that, while constitutionally part of the executive branch, are independent of presidential control, usually because the president's power to dismiss the agency head or a member is limited.
While most executive agencies have a single director, administrator, or secretary appointed by the President of the United States, independent agencies (in the narrower sense of being outside presidential control) almost always have a commission, board, or similar collegial body consisting of five to seven members who share power over the agency. (This is why many independent agencies include the word "Commission" or "Board" in their name.) The president appoints the commissioners or board members, subject to Senate confirmation, but they often serve terms that are staggered and longer than a four-year presidential term, meaning that most presidents will not have the opportunity to appoint all the commissioners of a given independent agency. The president can normally designate which commissioner will serve as the chairperson. Normally there are statutory provisions limiting the president's authority to remove commissioners, typically for incapacity, neglect of duty, malfeasance, or other good cause. In addition, most independent agencies have a statutory requirement of bipartisan membership on the commission, so the president cannot simply fill vacancies with members of his own political party.
If the independent agency exercises any executive powers like enforcement, and most of them do, Congress cannot participate in the regular removal process of commissioners. Constitutionally, Congress can only participate directly in impeachment proceedings. Congress can, however, pass statutes limiting the circumstances under which the president can remove commissioners of independent agencies. Members of Congress cannot serve as commissioners on independent agencies that have executive powers, nor can Congress itself appoint the commissioners – the Appointments Clause of the Constitution vests that power in the president. The Senate does participate, however, in appointments through "advice and consent", which occurs through confirmation hearings and votes on the president's nominees.
There is a further distinction between an independent agency and an independent regulatory agency. The Paperwork Reduction Act lists 19 enumerated "independent regulatory agencies". Generally, the heads of independent regulatory agencies can only be removed for cause, whereas Cabinet members and heads of executive agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, serve "at the pleasure of the president".Executive Order 12866, which requires cost-benefit analysis for certain regulatory actions, does not apply to independent regulatory agencies.