As many federal agency adjudication offices go remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are developing strategies to continue to serve the public. ACUS is undertaking several initiatives to help agency adjudication offices respond to operational challenges during the ongoing national emergency.
At a recent Interagency Roundtable, nearly 100 officials from across the federal government exchanged best practices on topics such as e-filing and e-mail workarounds, submitting voluminous evidence, serving documents electronically, mailing notices, and managing telephone and video hearings.
Earlier this month, ACUS launched a webpage to help adjudication offices navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic. The page, Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Adjudication, compiles relevant orders, policies, news releases, and other statements as agencies make them available. ACUS staff have so far cataloged statements from more than two dozen agencies on topics ranging from receiving physical mail; extending filing deadlines; closing offices; postponing hearings; and instituting special procedures for in-person hearings.
ACUS staff monitor developments and update the page on an ongoing basis. We extend our thanks to officials who have alerted us to new developments. Agencies may email additions, updates, or corrections to Jeremy Graboyes (firstname.lastname@example.org).
ACUS is also making additional resources available to agencies on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Adjudicationwebpage. These include past ACUS recommendations and ACUS-commissioned reports on video hearings and the Handbook on Best Practices for Using Video Teleconferencing in Adjudicatory Hearings, prepared for ACUS by the Center for Legal & Court Technology in 2015.
ACUS continues to develop new materials to help agency adjudication offices navigate the ongoing pandemic. Concurrent with the Interagency Roundtable, ACUS staff prepared an extensive set of questions for agencies to consider as they develop protocols during the pandemic. A short report on legal issues in video and telephone hearings is forthcoming.
As federal agencies continue to respond to the situation while managing their other vital responsibilities, ACUS welcomes feedback on how it can best carry out its statutory charge to arrange for the “interchange among administrative agencies of informational potentially useful in improving administrative procedure.”