I-2-0-5.Hearing Office Chief Administrative Law Judge, Administrative Law Judge, and Hearing Office Staff Responsibilities

Last Update: 11/20/18 (Transmittal I-2-220)

A. Hearing Office Chief Administrative Law Judge (HOCALJ) Responsibilities

In addition to hearing and deciding cases, the HOCALJ, under delegation from the Chief Administrative Law Judge, has the authority to assign cases to administrative law judges (ALJ). The HOCALJ has administrative and managerial responsibility for all personnel in the hearing office (HO) and provides overall guidance and direction regarding adherence to time and attendance procedures; staffing, space, equipment, and expert witness needs; rotational assignment of cases and review of work products; application of performance standards and appraisals; and approval of travel vouchers, itineraries, and expenditures.

The HOCALJ provides advice and guidance to ALJs regarding the interpretation of applicable law, regulations, rulings, policy, and judicial precedents. In coordination with the Regional Chief Administrative Law Judge, the HOCALJ participates in investigations into allegations of misconduct on the part of any employee, including ALJs, ensures compliance with the principles of equal employment opportunity, and conducts labor management functions consistent with collective bargaining agreements.

The HOCALJ also ensures timely and accurate responses to public and congressional inquiries; performs liaison functions between the HO and various Federal and local government agencies, including bar associations, and medical and vocational rehabilitation associations; and conducts periodic training.

B. ALJ Responsibilities

When a case is assigned to an ALJ for a hearing and decision, the ALJ is responsible for all actions necessary to process the case. An ALJ's principal responsibilities are to hold full and fair hearings and to issue legally sufficient and defensible decisions.

If an ALJ is not drafting a decision himself or herself, the ALJ is responsible for providing an assisting decision writer with complete, clear, and policy compliant instructions to draft a decision or dismissal. The ALJ's instructions need to include rationale supporting the findings that impact the ultimate conclusion (see Hearing, Appeals and Litigation Law manual I-2-8-20).

C. HO Staff Responsibilities

Under the overall guidance and direction of the HOCALJ and HO management, HO staff responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • conducting initial case screening and preparation;

  • establishing controls for the orderly processing of cases;

  • acknowledging receipt of requests for hearing;

  • preparing and maintaining HO files;

  • maintaining a control system for all claim(s) in the HO;

  • entering an ALJ's designation as the decision maker in the Case Processing and Management System;

  • conducting prehearing case analyses and workups;

  • developing additional evidence or information;

  • providing information to claimants regarding the right to representation and the options for obtaining representation;

  • disclosing proposed exhibits to claimants and representatives;

  • scheduling hearings;

  • preparing and sending notices, status letters, and other correspondences; and

  • writing, typing, and proofreading decisions and orders.