The Office of Administrative Hearings is an executive branch agency that provides independent administrative law judges to preside at administrative hearings and related proceedings. It is authorized to provide ALJs to preside at state agency, local government agency, tribal government, and judicial branch hearings and related proceedings.
It is the philosophy of the Office of Administrative Hearings to conduct orderly, fair, and impartial hearings for and to issue prompt, reasoned recommended or final decisions to all state agencies and other agencies of government which use OAH services. It is also our philosophy to conduct orderly, fair, and neutral mediation proceedings or informal hearings, and to issue prompt mediation agreements or prompt, reasoned recommended decisions.
The director designates ALJs assigned administrative hearings pursuant to an agency request. The director attempts to designate an ALJ with expertise in the subject matter of the assigned hearing. In regard to mediation, the director will assign only trained mediators pursuant to agency request.
OAH ALJs are Independent
OAH is a central panel.
North Dakota is part of a movement in the states to use central panel administrative law judges to conduct administrative hearings in the executive branch of government. Central panels employ or contract with administrative law judges who are independent from the agency for which they are conducting hearings and issuing decisions. OAH was established in 1991 under statutory authority in North Dakota Century Code chapter 54-57. OAH ALJs preside for numerous agencies at state and local levels, in such areas as workers compensation, human services, public utilities, health and safety, commerce, personnel, and financial institutions, resolving often complex issues arising in a dispute between an agency and an individual or business or in an application to an agency seeking specific authority or licensure, When an OAH ALJ is required to issue a decision, the decision may be a recommended decision subject to review by the agency head or a final decision. The decisions issued for Workforce Safety and Insurance and several other agencies are final decisions.