Lincoln v. Vigil, 508 U.S. 182, 17 (1993)

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Opinion of the Court

claimed that the Secretary's decision violated federal statutes prohibiting the use of federal funds for such a purpose where there existed a " 'feasible and prudent' " alternative route, id., at 405 (citations omitted), and argued, inter alia, that the Secretary's determination was subject to judicial review under the APA's "substantial evidence" standard, 5 U. S. C. 706(2)(E). 401 U. S., at 414. In rejecting that contention, we explained that the substantial-evidence test applies, in addition to circumstances not relevant here, only where "agency action is taken pursuant to [the] rulemaking provision[s]" of 553. We held unequivocally that "[t]he Secretary's decision to allow the expenditure of federal funds to build [the highway] through [the park] was plainly not an exercise of a rulemaking function." Ibid.

Overton Park is authority here for the proposition that decisions to expend otherwise unrestricted funds are not, without more, subject to the notice-and-comment requirements of 553. Although the Secretary's determination in Overton Park was subject to statutory criteria of " 'feasib[ility] and pruden[ce],' " id., at 405, the generality of those standards underscores the administrative discretion inherent in the determination (reviewable though it was), to which the Service's discretionary authority to meet its obligations under the Snyder and Improvement Acts is comparable. Indeed, respondents seek to distinguish Overton Park principally on the ground that the Service's determination altered the eligibility criteria for Service assistance. See Brief for Respondents 24-25. But the record fails to support the distinction, there being no indication that the Service's decision to discontinue the Program (or, for that matter, to initiate it) did anything to modify eligibility standards for Service care, as distinct from affecting the availability of services in a particular geographic area. The Service's decision to reallocate funds presumably did mean that respondents would no longer receive certain services, but it did not alter the Service's criteria for providing assistance any more than the

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