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Administrative subpoena

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Definition

In the context of a civil investigation, an agency pursuant to its statutory authority and in accordance with its rules, may issue an administrative subpoena — a request for information or production of documents, reasonably related to a matter within the jurisdiction of the agency.

Overview

Generally the administrative subpoena may be challenged in court based on lack of relevance, breadth, or lack of particularity. Often there is no requirement that the subject of the records be notified of the government’s request.

Recently, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued administrative subpoenas to various web-based technology and IT companies, including internet hosting companies providing online dating sites and VOIP service providers for dealings with Iran.

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