Agency Authority and Administrative Subpoenas

Agency Authority and Administrative Subpoenas

Learn about the authority of agencies to obtain private information, through inspections, reporting requirements, and subpoenas, and Fourth Amendment limitations on administrative subpoenas.


Administrative agencies frequently acquire private information from individuals and businesses. Agencies must have legal authority to gather information, and their ability to do so is subject to constitutional limitations. The APA provides that agency actions such as inspections, reporting requirements, or issuing subpoenas must be authorized by law. The authorizing law is usually the agency’s enabling statute.

I.    Inspections, Subpoenas, and Reporting Requirements