1049 South Building
Washington, D. C. 20250-9202
The Office of the Administrative Law Judges (OALJ) presently consists of three Judges who conduct rulemaking and adjudicatory hearings throughout the United States in proceedings subject to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. § 551 et seq. There are approximately 40 statutes administered by agencies within the Department of Agriculture that require APA hearings. The Judges issue initial decisions and orders in adjudicatory proceedings which become final decisions of the Secretary unless appealed to the Secretary's Judicial Officer by a party to the proceedings. Final consent orders are issued by the Judges following hearings or upon waiver of hearing. The Judges also decide appeals of debarments and suspensions as required by regulations implementing a government-wide system for nonprocurement debarments and suspensions (7 C.F.R. § 3017.100-.515 (1993)).
For purposes of Departmental Management, the Chief Judge reports to the Assistant Secretary for Administration. However, the Judges are free from any Departmental interference in their performance of judicial functions, and all case assignments are made by the Chief Judge.
The Chief Judge also provides overall management for the Office of the Hearing Clerk. This Office, under the direction of a Supervisory Legal Technician, receives, files, and serves pleadings, briefs, and decisions. It maintains official records of the Department (including the transcripts of adjudicatory and rulemaking hearings), and in the event of an appeal, certifies such records to the Court of Appeals or District Court for subsequent review.
In addition, OALJ is responsible for publication of Agriculture Decisions, the official compilation of quasi-judicial and judicial decisions issued concerning regulatory laws administered by the Department.