Federal Administrative Procedure Act provides that before the presiding employee initially decides a case before an agency, the parties are entitled to a reasonable opportunity to submit for the consideration of the employees participating in the decisions:[i]
- proposed findings and conclusions,
- exceptions to the proposed decisions, and
- supporting reasons for the exceptions or proposed findings or conclusions.
The Act further provides that the record should show the ruling on each finding, conclusion, or exception presented.[ii] Additionally, all initial decisions are a part of the record and should include a statement of findings and conclusions, and the reasons thereof, on all the material issues of fact, law, or discretion presented on the record.[iii]
In Iowa State Commerce Com. v. Office of Federal Inspector of Alaska Natural Gas Transp. System, 730 F.2d 1566, 1577 (D.C. Cir. 1984), the court held that an adequate statement of findings and conclusions is required as the basis of any agency decision. The court further held that the Act applies only to on the record adjudications and rulemakings. Similarly, if a party to administrative proceeding does not object to a proposed finding of fact or conclusion of law, those facts or conclusions will be conclusively established against the party.[iv]
The failure of the presiding employee to include explicit findings and conclusions violates the Federal Administrative Procedure Act.[v] A statement of findings and reasons will:[vi]
- guarantees that the parties submitting comments will get their statutorily prescribed hearing,
- encourages the agency to think about all pertinent issues, and
- ensures the opportunity of public review for reasoned and consistent decision making.
In Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Med. Ctr. v. Thompson, 362 F. Supp. 2d 25 (D.D.C. 2005), the court held that the decision of the administrator of health care financing administration was proper since the administrator provided a reasonable explanation of the relevant facts in the record supporting his decision.
[i] 5 USCS § 557
[iv] Coit Independence Joint Venture v. Federal Sav. & Loan Ins. Corp., 489 U.S. 561, 582 (U.S. 1989)
[v] Iowa State Commerce Com. v. Office of Federal Inspector of Alaska Natural Gas Transp. System, 730 F.2d 1566, 1577 (D.C. Cir. 1984)
[vi] id at 1578