A regulatory agency (also regulatory authority, regulatory body or regulator) is a public authority or government agency responsible for exercising autonomous authority over some area of human activity in a regulatory or supervisory capacity. An independent regulatory agency is a regulatory agency that is independent from other branches or arms of the government.
Regulatory agencies deal in the area of administrative law—regulation or rulemaking (codifying and enforcing rules and regulations and imposing supervision or oversight for the benefit of the public at large). The existence of independent regulatory agencies is justified by the complexity of certain regulatory and supervisory tasks that require expertise, the need for rapid implementation of public authority in certain sectors, and the drawbacks of political interference. Some independent regulatory agencies perform investigations or audits, and some are authorized to fine the relevant parties and order certain measures.
Regulatory agencies are usually a part of the executive branch of the government, or they have statutory authority to perform their functions with oversight from the legislative branch. Their actions are generally open to legal review. Regulatory authorities are commonly set up to enforce standards and safety, or to oversee use of public goods and regulate commerce. Examples of regulatory agencies are the Interstate Commerce Commission and U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the United States, Ofcom in the United Kingdom, and the TRAI in India.
To ensure that it does fill its role, a regulatory agency uses mechanisms such as the following