The Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) are appointed pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (5 USC 551), and supervised by the Chief ALJ. By statute, the proceedings before ALJs, and their decisions, are independent of agency influence.
The ALJs conduct independent and impartial hearings pursuant to numerous authorizing federal statutes and agency regulations. The most frequent cases involve: allegations of violations of the Fair Housing Act (civil rights); allegations of fraud in HUD administered programs; and allegations of failure to comply with requirements of HUD subsidized programs. The ALJs render unbiased and fair decisions under the governing law and the facts of each case, as established by the evidence.
The parties are encouraged to engage in settlement discussions and, upon request, a Settlement Judge may be appointed to serve as mediator, to assist the parties in reaching a settlement agreement. In cases not resolved by agreement a hearing is held, ordinarily in a location convenient to the parties and the witnesses (unless otherwise directed by statute or regulation).
The hearings are open to the public, and are conducted very much like trials in federal district court. The parties are advised if the ALJ's decision may be appealed, and referred to the applicable procedure. The Decisions, and any interim Orders of general interest, are published on the OHA website, and are distributed to online and print publishers.