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Recruiting SSA Administrative Law Judges: Need for Review of OPM Role and Performance

April 8, 2007

The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in 1946 established the position of administrative law judge (ALJ). It included provisions designed to ensure the ALJs’ impartiality by insulating them from improper pressure. As one way of strengthening independence, the APA gave the then Civil Service Commission responsibility for administering the personnel aspects of the ALJ program. (The functions of the Civil Service Commission have since been transferred to OPM, the Office of Personnel Management.)

There is no doubt and no disagreement that Administrative Law Judges must have the independence to make decisions that both are and are perceived to be based on their best objective assessment of the facts in each case without being influenced by the need to please supervisors, to meet allowance or denial quotas, or in any way to fear that the outcome of their decisions will affect their future status with the agency.