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The Division of Administrative Law Appeals Does Not Have Written Policies and Procedures for Case-Management Activities.

This comes after a prior audit from 2015 similarly determined the agency did not have policies to deal with case management backlogs and the prioritization of cases.

Table of Contents

Overview

In our prior audit, we found that the Division of Administrative Law Appeals (DALA) had not established formal written policies and procedures for certain case-management activities: addressing the backlog of open cases, prioritizing cases, closing cases, sending out acknowledgment letters, issuing decisions, meeting annual reporting requirements, holding hearings at alternative sites, and retaining documentation for draft (preliminary) decisions.

During our current audit, the chief administrative magistrate stated that DALA did not have any written policies and procedures that addressed case management. Without formal written case-management policies and procedures, DALA does not have documented controls to ensure that case-management activities are performed consistently, effectively, efficiently, and in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Authoritative Guidance

The Office of the Comptroller of the Commonwealth’s (CTR’s) Internal Control Guide requires agencies to develop “policies, procedures, techniques, and mechanisms that enforce management’s directives to achieve the entity’s objectives.”

Reasons for Issue

According to the chief administrative magistrate, DALA has not had sufficient personnel and time to document the policies and procedures that support its case-management policy.

Recommendation

DALA should develop written policies and procedures for all of its case-management activities.

Auditee’s Response

DALA’s GJU is working toward developing formal written policies and procedures and has made progress toward that objective. Because of the significant number of older Retirement Cases and Rate Setting Cases in DALA’s inventory, implementing a set of written policies and procedures for the processing of its cases is a challenge. Recognizing the value of written policies and procedures outlining our best practices, DALA has developed tools to help address the issue.

The case docket system adopted by the GJU in 2017 contains a case progression tab which provides an outline of the process used to handle cases. In addition, the case docket system allows for the tracking of a case’s progress. Staff will receive additional training concerning the tools available in the case tracking system and we will develop a more consistent approach to its use. We believe that these measures constitute important progress toward written policies and procedures pertaining to each case category that the GJU handles.

We will continue to address this aspect of DALA’s operation. Our efforts will include drafting written policies and procedures outlining the GJU case handling procedures which will incorporate the most useful tools developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as electronic filing and virtual hearings.

Auditor’s Reply

Based on its response, DALA is taking measures to address our concerns on this matter.

Date published: April 7, 2021
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