Management Improvements in the Administrative Law Process:

Much Remains To Be Done

FPCD-79-44: Published: May 23, 1979. Publicly Released: May 23, 1979.

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A previous report on the administrative law process recommended several actions to the heads of agencies employing administrative law judges. These actions were to alleviate delay in the adjudication process and to aid in effective administrative law judge personnel management.

The agencies have done little or nothing to improve management of the administrative law process. While the agencies agreed that alleviating regulatory delays and improving management were worthy objectives, many reported they did not need to make changes because they did not review administrative law judge decisions in excess of what was merited, did not have too many review layers, or were already doing enough to meet management improvements. Some reported they could not make recommended changes because the types of cases they handled were so varied, so complex, or so few that performance standards or simplified procedures were not applicable. Performance standards can be employed to assess work loads, staffing requirements, work processes, or management improvements. Administrative law judge performance evaluation and criteria are critical to ensuring the quality of administrative adjudication. An effective financial disclosure system is needed to avoid possible conflict-of-interest situations. Departments and agencies which adjudicate administrative disputes have not yet done all they can to manage that process efficiently. Improvements should not and need not be contingent on passage of regulatory reform legislation. Solutions may differ, but the basic issues of management efficiency and performance accountability should not be obscured.

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