The District of Columbia Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) is an administrative court that was created in 2001 by the Council of the District of Columbia to provide centralized adjudication services for several District agencies. OAH began formal operations in 2004. Today, there are over 30 Administrative Law Judges who decide contested cases involving more than 40 District of Columbia agencies, boards, and commissions.
As an independent agency, OAH is a neutral, impartial tribunal that holds hearings and decides appeals from government decisions. OAH decides cases involving unemployment compensation, Medicaid and other public benefits, public space, rent control, professional and business licenses, and building, health, and fire code violations, among others. OAH also receives payments of fines imposed by various agencies.
The Chief Administrative Law Judge oversees OAH. By statute, the Chief Judge is appointed to a six-year term by the Mayor, with confirmation by the D.C. Council.
In addition to the Administrative Law Judges, there are presently more than 45 employees who provide critical support services, including customer service, data processing, case management, legal analysis and support, and operational support, such as human resources and information technology.
OAH strives to enhance the quality of life in our city by providing residents with a fair, efficient and effective system to manage and resolve administrative litigation arising under District of Columbia law.
Office Hours and Court Closings
OAH is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. However, OAH is currently open for walk-in visits on a Modified Operating Schedule. The court is closed on all federal and District of Columbia holidays.
D.C. Government closures and delays are posted on the D.C. Government website. Alerts will also be posted on the OAH Home page. You can also tune to local D.C. television and radio stations for information.
If you have a hearing or mediation scheduled on a day when the District of Columbia Government is closed or there is a delayed opening, the following policies apply:
For DCPS Hearings:
- If DCPS closes for the day, then all scheduled hearings and mediations are cancelled. DCPS will issue rescheduling notices.
- If DCPS has a one-hour delay, then the 9:15 a.m. hearings are cancelled. DCPS will issue rescheduling notices. The 11:15 a.m. hearings will be held.
- If DCPS has a two-hour delay, then the 9:15 a.m. hearings are cancelled. DCPS will issue rescheduling notices. The 11:15 a.m. hearings will be held, UNLESS DCPS or the parent requests a continuance (before 11:15 a.m. and with notice to OAH before 11:15 a.m.).
For all other hearings:
- If D.C. Government closes for the day, then all scheduled hearings and mediations are cancelled. Rescheduling notices will be issued.
- If the D.C. Government has a liberal or unscheduled leave policy in effect, then all scheduled hearings and mediations are cancelled. Rescheduling notices will be issued. However, if all parties appear and the assigned Administrative Law Judge is available, the Judge may choose to go ahead with the hearing.
- If the D.C. Government has a one- or two-hour delay for all employees to report to work, then hearings and mediations scheduled before the end of the delay are cancelled. Rescheduling notices will be issued. Hearings and mediations scheduled after the end of the delay are NOT cancelled and will go ahead as scheduled.
- If the D.C. Government has a liberal or unscheduled leave policy in effect together with a one- or two-hour delay, then all scheduled hearings and mediations are cancelled. Rescheduling notices will be issued.
The District of Columbia protects the rights of people who speak limited or no English. OAH provides free interpretation services to members of the public who have business with OAH. Such services are available for people who visit the office, call on the telephone, or attend hearings or mediations. If you need an interpreter for a hearing or mediation, please tell us as soon as possible.
Information and forms are available in the following languages:
The Office of Administrative Hearings provides access to its hearings and other proceedings through reasonable accommodations. Reasonable accommodations are available to any person with a disability, upon reasonable notice, so long as the requested accommodations do not require action which would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of an activity or an undue financial or administrative burden.
If you are requesting a reasonable accommodation for a hearing or other proceeding, please contact us at least five to seven days before the scheduled date. You may, of course, make a reasonable accommodation request at any time, but a request made less than five days before your hearing may require that your hearing be rescheduled.
All hearing rooms and other facilities are wheelchair accessible.
The Office of Administrative Hearings can provide free sign language services for persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
Documents can also be provided in braille or large print upon request.
Information concerning agency performance is available at the Office of the City Administrator.
Administrative Law Judges and COST
The Commission on Selection and Tenure (COST) is established by law to appoint, reappoint, discipline, and remove OAH Administrative Law Judges. Notices of upcoming COST meetings are posted under “Latest News” on the OAH Home page. To view the minutes from previous COST meetings, you can visit the COST Meetings page .
To be eligible for appointment, an applicant for an Administrative Law Judge position must be a member in good standing of the D.C. Bar, have at least five years of experience, including litigation experience, and possess judicial temperament, expertise, experience, and analytical and other necessary skills.
You can learn more about COST and Administrative Law Judges in Title 2, Section 18A of the D.C. Code. Sections 2-1831.06 and .07 cover COST duties and membership. Sections 2-1831.08 through .11 cover the qualifications and powers of Administrative Law Judges, among other things.
You can also visit the Biographies page for information about each of OAH’s current Administrative Law Judges.
OAH Advisory Committee
The OAH Advisory Committee is established by law to perform the following duties:
- Advise the Chief Administrative Law Judge in carrying out his or her duties;
- Identify issues of importance to Administrative Law Judges and agencies that should be addressed by the Office;
- Review issues and problems relating to administrative adjudication;
- Review and comment upon the policies and regulations proposed by the Chief Administrative Law Judge; and
- Make recommendations for statutory and regulatory changes that are consistent with advancing the purposes of OAH.
You can learn more about the establishment and requirements of the Advisory Committee in Title 2, Chapter 18A, Section 2-1831.17 of the D.C. Code.
D.C. is committed to a transparent, open form of government. District agency websites are required to make certain records available online to the public, if those records exist. In cases where these records exist but are not yet available online, agencies are working to provide them as soon as possible.
From September 2017 through January 2019, OAH tested a new public portal for uploading Final Orders to the website. A limited number of Final Orders in the following jurisdictions were uploaded: Department of Public Works, Department of Housing and Community Development, Office of Planning, Fire & Emergency Medical Services, Department of Health, Department of Energy and the Environment, District Department of Transportation, Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs, Metropolitan Police Department, and Department of Small and Local Business Development. Because of confidentiality restrictions, Final Orders from certain jurisdictions were not uploaded.
OAH is currently making plans for another public portal for Final Orders.
Final Orders (September 2017 through January 2019)
Information Requests (FOIA)
If you cannot find the information you are looking for here or elsewhere on DC.gov, you can submit a FOIA request online through the D.C. FOIA Public Access Portal. Requests may also be submitted by mail, fax, or email ([email protected]). However, please note that FOIA requests submitted online will be easier to track and process.
To understand the process before making a request, please visit the D.C. Government FOIA page.
The FOIA Officer is the principal contact point within OAH for advice and policy guidance on matters pertaining to FOIA administration. All requests are handled professionally and expeditiously. OAH’s FOIA Officer’s information:
Office of Administrative Hearings
One Judiciary Square
441 4th Street NW, Suite 450N
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 671-4474
Email: [email protected]
To improve our services, OAH is interested in your feedback. Complete the online survey if you want to give feedback after a hearing or after interacting with Customer Service or Resource Center staff. The information contained in this survey will not affect the outcome of your case and will not be identified by case number or name.
The Office of Administrative Hearings periodically hires for a variety of positions and has a formal legal internship program during the summer. Open positions periodically include:
Administrative Law Judges
The Commission on Selection and Tenure (“Commission”) appoints administrative law judges. The Mayor, the City Council, and the Chief Judge of the District of Columbia Superior Court each appoint one of the three voting members of the Commission. The requirements for appointment are set out in the Office of Administrative Hearings Establishment Act and regulations promulgated by the Commission.
The Office of the General Counsel includes attorneys who assist judges in legal analysis, research, and drafting while also providing legal support services to agency management. Attorneys must be members of the District of Columbia Bar to be eligible for hire. Paralegal positions require a college degree.
Legal Support Staff
Day-to-day case management and support to the judges are provided through the Clerk of the Court and the Clerk’s staff, which includes a variety of positions. They have regular, direct involvement with the public. In general, applicants must have college credits or equivalent experience. Facility in other languages is also useful.
The Office of Administrative Hearings has a number of unpaid legal intern positions during the school year and summer. Applicants should have completed at least one semester of law school.
The Office of Administrative Hearings from time to time accepts volunteers to work for a limited number of hours per week on a variety of projects.
To check for job openings at OAH and to submit an application for an open position, please visit the D.C. Department of Human Resources Careers page. Open Administrative Law Judge positions may be viewed under "Appointed Positions Excepted and Executive." All other open positions may be viewed under "Careers DC."