Notice & Comment

Fall 2016 Projects (ACUS Update)

This fall, the Administrative Conference’s committees are working on a full slate of projects targeted for completion at the 66th Plenary Session, which will be held in December 2016.  These projects include: (1) The Ombudsman in Federal Agencies; (2) Informal Agency Adjudication; (3) Public-Private Partnerships; (4) Self-Represented Parties in Administrative Hearings; and (5) Social Security Administration Federal Courts Analysis.  A description and summary of all information available about each of these projects is provided below.

If you would like to attend a committee meeting in person, you can do so by RSVPing through the agency’s website, at the link provided below for the relevant meeting.  If you cannot attend in person, you can watch the meeting, in real time or after-the-fact, on the Administrative Conference’s Livestream Channel.  Written comments are also welcome and can be submitted online through the appropriate project page, each of which is linked below, or via email to the listed Staff Counsel.

The Ombudsman in Federal Agencies:  In this project, the Conference is updating and expanding upon Recommendation 90-2, The Ombudsman in Federal Agencies.  Adopted in June 1990, Recommendation 90-2 addressed “external ombudsmen,” who focus primarily on receiving and addressing inquiries and complaints from the public.  The present project studies the broader array of ombuds, including external and internal ombuds, that have been established since 1990.  It is intended to urge the creation and support of such ombuds and to suggest best practices and standards for the operation of agency ombuds offices.

The committee held a meeting on this project on September 28.

Informal Agency Adjudication:  This project comes out of the Conference’s recent study (profiled by my co-blogger, Chris Walker, here) on adjudication outside the Administrative Procedure Act, which is more commonly referred to as “informal” adjudication.  The aim of the project is to identify best practices for (among other things) notice procedures, evidentiary rules, appeal opportunities, and the overall integrity of the decisionmaking process in informal adjudication.

The committee previously met on this project on September 22nd.  The draft recommendation that is currently available bears the same date.  The committee is scheduled to meet next on October 20.

Public-Private PartnershipsThis project examines public-private partnerships outside of the infrastructure context, giving close attention to legal issues.  The goal of the project is to identify recommendations and best practices for agency use of such partnerships.

The committee held a meeting on this project on September 26.  A draft recommendation is not yet available.  (New documents for committee consideration are typically made available about one week ahead of the committee meeting at which they will be discussed.  If you are interested in this project, you might consider checking the project page in the week ahead of the October 25th  meeting, as a draft recommendation may become available during that time.)

Self-Represented Parties in Administrative HearingsThis project came out of a working group on the subject of self-represented parties in administrative hearings, which the Administrative Conference co-leads with the Department of Justice’s Office for Access to Justice.  The working group began meeting in April 2015 and operates under the umbrella of the Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (LAIR). Using case studies of agencies that conduct administrative hearings and drawing on state court experiences with self-represented parties, this project aims to develop best practices and make recommendations for agencies to improve fairness and efficiency in administrative hearings.

The committee previously met on this project on September 29.  A proposed recommendation for Council consideration is available here.  This indicates that the committee’s work has concluded.  (When a committee finishes its work on a recommendation, the Council reviews it and is authorized by statute (5 U.S.C. § 595(b)(4)) to transmit the proposed recommendation to the Assembly of the Conference with the Council’s views and suggestions.  This is the last step in the process before a recommendation is debated and voted upon at a plenary session.)

Social Security Administration Federal Courts Analysis This project began as an Office of the Chairman study of federal court review of Social Security disability adjudication.  The Social Security Administration then asked that the Assembly consider the researchers’ recommendation for the development of a set of procedural rules specific to judicial review of social security disability adjudication.  The current draft recommendation would urge the Judicial Conference, in consultation with Congress, to create uniform procedural rules for district court litigation involving appeals from social security disability adjudications.

The committee previously held meetings on this project on September 19 and October 7.

This post is part of the Administrative Conference Update series, which highlights new and continuing projects, upcoming committee meetings, proposed and recently adopted recommendations, and other news about the Administrative Conference of the United States. The series is further explained here, and all posts in the series can be found here.

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