The Administrative Conference has released the agenda for its 66th Annual Plenary Session, which will be held on Tuesday, December 13 (from 1:00 pm to 5:30 pm) and Wednesday, December 14 (from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm). Proposed recommendations on four subjects will be under consideration. From the Federal Register notice on public inspection today:
Social Security Administration Federal Courts Analysis. This proposed recommendation encourages the Judicial Conference of the United States to develop a uniform set of procedural rules for social security cases commenced in federal court that involve claims for benefits arising under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. It also highlights areas in which such rules should be adopted and sets forth criteria for the promulgation of additional rules.
Informal Agency Adjudication. This proposed recommendation offers best practices to agencies for structuring evidentiary hearings that are not required by the Administrative Procedure Act. It suggests ways to ensure the integrity of the decisionmaking process; sets forth recommended pre-hearing, hearing, and post-hearing practices; and urges agencies to describe their practices in a publicly accessible document and seek periodic feedback on those practices.
The Ombudsman in Federal Agencies. This proposed recommendation takes account of the broad array of federal agency ombudsman offices that have been established since the Administrative Conference’s adoption in 1990 of Recommendation 90-2 on the same subject, https://www.acus.gov/recommendation/ombudsman-federal-agencies. The new recommendation continues to urge both agencies and Congress to consider creating additional ombudsman offices that provide an opportunity for individuals to raise issues confidentially and receive assistance in resolving them without fear of retribution. The recommendation emphasizes the importance of adherence to the three core standards of independence, confidentiality, and impartiality, and identifies best practices for the operation, staffing, and evaluation of federal agency ombudsman offices.
Self-Represented Parties in Administrative Hearings. This proposed recommendation offers best practices for agencies dealing with self-represented parties in administrative hearings. Recommendations include the use of triage and diagnostic tools, development of a continuum of services to aid parties, and re-evaluation and simplification of existing hearing practices, where possible. The project builds on the activity of a working group on Self-Represented Parties in Administrative Hearings that is co-led by the Administrative Conference and the Department of Justice’s Office for Access to Justice.
The proposed recommendation, supporting report, and other key documents related to each of these projects are available here. If you would like to submit a comment or RSVP to attend the 66th Plenary Session in person, you can do so at the same link. The meeting will also be webcast on the Administrative Conference’s livestream channel. My previous coverage of these and other projects that were under committee consideration this fall is available here.
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.