The Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ) conducts rulemaking and adjudicatory hearings throughout the United States in proceedings subject to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. § 551 et seq. Over fifty statutes administered by USDA agencies require APA hearings.
The Judges issue initial decisions and orders in adjudicatory proceedings, approve of consent decisions entered into by parties, and decide appeals of debarments and suspensions. Initial decisions and orders in adjudicatory proceedings are issued after a hearing, upon the written record, or on motion by litigants. Initial decisions and orders become final decisions of the Secretary unless appealed to the Secretary's Judicial Officer by a party. In addition, the Chief Judge supervises the activities of the Hearing Clerk’s Office, which is responsible for maintaining and archiving the formal record in cases brought before OALJ.
OALJ also publishes Agriculture Decisions, the official compilation of quasi-judicial and judicial decisions issued concerning regulatory laws administered by the Department.