I am pleased to report on the FY 2022 operations of the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA). OHA’s mission is to provide adjudicatory and dispute resolution services to the Department of Energy. OHA’s work directly supports DOE’s strategic goal to “[p]osition the Department of Energy to meet the challenges of the 21st century and the nation’s Manhattan Project and Cold War legacy responsibilities by employing effective management and refining operational and support capabilities to pursue departmental missions.” OHA supports this goal by issuing timely and appropriate decisions. In FY 2022, as in past years, OHA provided independent, timely, and thorough analysis and review on a wide variety of issues, helping maintain the quality of DOE’s decision-making. OHA staff continued to conduct remote hearings in all our cases. Our office has integrated Microsoft One Drive, Share Point, and Teams into its workflow, streamlining our processes and providing greater capabilities for collaboration with other offices.
OHA continued to process cases promptly in FY 2022. For example, we issued Personnel Security decisions, on average, in just 9 days after receiving the hearing transcript. This continues the trend of the last few years; starting in FY 2019, our numbers in this category have been in the single digits. In the same vein, while Federal law allows 20 days to process Freedom of Information Act appeals, OHA adjudicated these appeals in FY 2022, on average, in just 17 days.
Though the Personnel Security case backlog that built up during the first year of the pandemic was resolved in FY 2021, the rate at which OHA receives cases has not slowed. In FY 2022, OHA received 142 Personnel Security cases, exactly twice as many as we received in FY 2020. This year, OHA hired two new staff attorneys and promoted two staff attorneys to Administrative Judges, which allowed us to continue processing cases quickly despite the increased docket. OHA also added two attorneys and an ADR training specialist to the Alternative Dispute Resolution Office’s roster, allowing us to expand our training capacity and service more organizations across the DOE complex.
As we begin FY 2023, we are committed to continued improvement and to meeting all Departmental needs for our services. Going forward, we will continue to review our operations to identify opportunities for increased efficiency and productivity while maintaining our commitment to excellence.
We hope that this report is informative. If you have any comments or suggestions for future improvements, please contact our office by email at OHA.Filings@hq.doe.gov
Poli A. Marmolejos