The allocation of wide powers of discretion to professionals in public administration in general, and in social services in particular, rests upon a variety of considerations. This analysis seeks to illuminate the shortcomings of a sweeping approach to the problem and the need for differentiation. There may be situations in which the justification for conferring discretion without specific guidelines being outlined in the law is greater than in others. These situations may be classified by means of two related variables. One variable is concerned with the level and amount of authority at which the conferred discretion is exercisable. The second variable is concerned with the function of the discretion, which is either regulative or distributive.