Recommendation 2019-6 – Independent Research by Agency Adjudicators in the Internet Age addresses agency adjudicators’ increasing reliance on their own factual research—especially internet research—when conducting hearings and deciding cases. Though such independent research can be an efficient means to acquire facts, it can also raise concerns regarding the accuracy of information uncovered and fairness to the litigants. The recommendation encourages agencies to develop publicly available policies on independent research that identify sources of information that are reliable in all cases, set forth standards for adjudicators to apply when assessing the reliability of other sources, and ensure that litigants have ready access to all sources.
Citation: Admin. Conf. of the U.S., Recommendation 2019-6, Independent Research by Agency Adjudicators in the Internet Age, 84 Fed. Reg. 71350 (Dec. 27, 2019).
A fundamental characteristic of agency adjudications that incorporate a legally required evidentiary hearing is the existence of an exclusive record for decision making. The exclusive record in adjudications regulated by the formal-hearing provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) consists of the “transcript of testimony and exhib