Agency adjudication may be formal or informal. Formal adjudication involves a trial-like hearing with witness testimony, a written record and a final decision. However, informal adjudication is a statutorily required decision making process that may or may not require a hearing and is neither formal adjudication nor rulemaking. Informal adjudication is done by inspections, conferences and negotiations.
The Model State Administrative Procedure Act permits the informal disposition of any contested case by stipulation, agreed settlement, consent order, or default. Similarly, the Act provides for the conference adjudicative procedure if the matter comes under one or more categories such as:
- a matter in which there is no disputed issue of material fact,
- a matter in which there is a disputed issue of material fact, if the matter involves only a monetary amount of not more than a specified amount,
- a disciplinary sanction against a prisoner,
- a disciplinary sanction against a student which does not involve expulsion from an academic institution or suspension for more than 10 days,
- a disciplinary sanction against a licensee which does not involve revocation, suspension, annulment, withdrawal, or amendment of a license.
The hearing requirements under the Federal Administrative Procedure Act do not apply to:[i]
- a matter subject to a subsequent trial of the law and the facts de novo in a court,
- the selection or tenure of an employee, except an administrative law judge,
- proceedings in which a decision rests solely on inspections, tests, or elections,
- the conduct of military or foreign affairs functions,
- cases in which an agency is acting as an agent for a court, or
- the certification of worker representatives.
[i] 5 USCS § 554