Public Availability of Adjudication Rules

While most federal adjudications occur outside of federal courts, it may be difficult for litigants in administrative adjudications to have easy access to the rules governing their hearings.  ACUS is currently working on a project to address this issue. 

There are a variety of sources for rules that govern agency adjudications, including agency organic statutes, rules of practice (those procedural rules issued by an agency to govern its adjudications and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations), agency precedents, and even possibly explanatory materials which are determined to create legally enforceable rights.  These materials may be in a variety of locations on agency websites, rather than one centralized locale, or agencies may fail to post them on websites at all.

Two weeks ago, an ad hoc committee, comprised of the Committee on Administration and Management and the Committee on Adjudication, came together to discuss draft recommendations to improve how agencies put adjudication rules and guidance documents online and make them accessible to website users.  The draft recommendations include presenting the materials in a clear, logical, and comprehensive fashion; placing a textbox atop documents indicating whether they are binding; and citing statutes, rules of practice, and adjudication precedents in explanatory documents.

If the Ad Hoc Committee votes to approve these recommendations and the Council places them on the plenary session agenda, the full Assembly will discuss and vote on the recommendations at the 70th Plenary Session in December 2018.  If approved, ACUS staff will work with agencies to implement the recommendations and make adjudication rules and associated guidance documents more available and accessible to the public.