U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Dec 09, 2022
(b) Administrative law judge positions are in the competitive service. Except as otherwise stated in this subpart, the rules and regulations applicable to positions in the competitive service apply to administrative law judge positions.
(c) The title “administrative law judge” is the official title for an administrative law judge position. Each agency must use only this title for personnel, budget, and fiscal purposes.
(d) The Director of OPM, or designee, shall prescribe the examination methodology in the design of each administrative law judge examination.
(e) OPM does not hire administrative law judges for other agencies but has the authority to:
(1) Recruit and examine applicants for administrative law judge positions, including developing and administering the administrative law judge examinations under 5 U.S.C. 3301,3304,1104,and,and,as,except.101(a);
(2) Assure that decisions concerning the appointment, pay, and tenure of administrative law judges in Federal agencies are consistent with applicable laws and regulations;
(3) Establish classification and qualification standards for administrative law judge positions;
(4) Approve noncompetitive personnel actions for administrative law judges, including but not limited to promotions, transfers, reinstatements, restorations, and reassignments;
(5) Approve personnel actions related to pay for administrative law judges under § 930.205(c), (f)(2), (g), and (j);
(6) Approve an intra-agency detail or assignment of an administrative law judge to a non-administrative law judge position that lasts more than 120 days or when an administrative law judge cumulates a total of more than 120 days for more than one detail or assignment within the preceding 12 months;
(7) Arrange the temporary detail (loan) of an administrative law judge from one agency to another under the provisions of the administrative law judge loan program in § 930.208;
(8) Arrange temporary reemployment of retired administrative law judges to meet changing agency workloads under the provisions of the Senior Administrative Law Judge Program in § 930.209;
(9) Maintain and administer the administrative law judge priority referral program under § 930.210(c);
(10) Promulgate regulations for purposes of sections 3105, 3344, 4301(2)(D) and 5372 of title 5, U.S.C.; and
(11) Ensure the independence of the administrative law judge.
(f) An agency employing administrative law judges under 5 U.S.C. 3105 has:
(1) The authority to appoint as many administrative law judges as necessary for proceedings conducted under 5 U.S.C. 556 and 557;
(2) The authority to assign an administrative law judge to cases in rotation so far as is practicable;
(3) The responsibility to ensure the independence of the administrative law judge; and
(4) The responsibility to obtain OPM's approval before taking any of the personnel actions described in paragraphs (e)(4) through (8) of this section.
In this subpart:
Administrative law judge position means a position in which any portion of the duties requires the appointment of an administrative law judge under 5 U.S.C. 3105.
Agency has the same meaning given in 5 U.S.C. 551(1).
Detail means the temporary assignment of an administrative law judge from one administrative law judge position to another administrative law judge position without change in civil service or pay status.
Removal means discharge of an administrative law judge from the position of an administrative law judge or involuntary reassignment, demotion, or promotion to a position other than that of an administrative law judge.
Senior administrative law judge means a retired administrative law judge who is reemployed under a temporary appointment under 5 U.S.C. 3323(b)(2) and § 930.209 of this chapter.
Superior qualifications means an appointment made at a rate above the minimum rate based on such qualifications as experience practicing law before the hiring agency; experience practicing before another forum in a field of law relevant to the hiring agency; or an outstanding reputation among others in a field of law relevant to the hiring agency.
Each agency employing administrative law judges must reimburse OPM for the cost of developing and administering the administrative law judge examination. Each agency is charged a pro rata share of the examination cost, based on the actual number of administrative law judges the agency employs. OPM computes the cost of the examination program on an annual basis and notifies the employing agencies of their respective shares after the calculations are made.
(a) Appointment. An agency may appoint an individual to an administrative law judge position only with prior approval of OPM, except when it makes its selection from the list of eligibles provided by OPM. An administrative law judge receives a career appointment and is exempt from the probationary period requirements under part 315 of this chapter. An administrative law judge appointment is subject to investigation, and an administrative law judge is subject to the suitability requirements in part 731 of this chapter.
(b) Licensure. At the time of application and any new appointment, the individual must possess a professional license to practice law and be authorized to practice law under the laws of a State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territorial court established under the United States Constitution. Judicial status is acceptable in lieu of “active” status in States that prohibit sitting judges from maintaining “active” status to practice law. Being in “good standing” is also acceptable in lieu of “active” status in States where the licensing authority considers “good standing” as having a current license to practice law.
(c) Appointment of incumbents of newly classified administrative law judge positions. An agency may give an incumbent employee an administrative law judge career appointment if that employee is serving in the position when it is classified as an administrative law judge position on the basis of legislation, Executive order, or a decision of a court and if:
(1) The employee has competitive status or is serving in an excepted position under a permanent appointment;
(2) The employee is serving in an administrative law judge position on the day the legislation, Executive order, or decision of the court on which the classification of the position is based becomes effective;
(3) OPM receives a recommendation for the employee's appointment from the agency concerned; and
(4) OPM determines the employee meets the qualification requirements and has passed the current examination for an administrative law judge position.
(d) Appointment of an employee from a non-administrative law judge position. Except as provided in paragraphs (a) and (c) of this section, an agency may not appoint an employee who is serving in a position other than an administrative law judge position to an administrative law judge position.
(e) Promotion. (1) Except as otherwise stated in this paragraph, 5 CFR part 335 applies in the promotion of administrative law judges.
(2) To reclassify an administrative law judge position at a higher level, the agency must submit a request to OPM. When OPM approves the higher level classification, OPM will direct the promotion of the administrative law judge occupying the position prior to the reclassification.
(f) Reassignment. Prior to OPM's approval, the agency must provide a bona fide management reason for the reassignment.
(h) Transfer. An agency may not transfer an individual from one administrative law judge position to another administrative law judge position within 1 year after the individual's last appointment, unless the gaining and losing agencies agree to the transfer.
(i) Conformity. Actions under this section must be consistent with § 930.201(f).
(a) OPM assigns each administrative law judge position to one of the three levels of basic pay, AL-3, AL-2 or AL-1 of the administrative law judge pay system established under 5 U.S.C. 5372 in accordance with this section. Pay level AL-3 has six rates of basic pay, A, B, C, D, E, and F.
(1) The rate of basic pay for AL-3, rate A, may not be less than 65 percent of the rate of basic pay for level IV of the Executive Schedule. The rate of basic pay for AL-1 may not exceed the rate for level IV of the Executive Schedule.
(2) The President determines the appropriate adjustment for each level in the administrative law judge pay system, subject to paragraph (a)(1) of this section. Such adjustments take effect on the 1st day of the first pay period beginning on or after the first day of the month in which adjustments in the General Schedule rates of basic pay under 5 U.S.C. 5303 take effect.
(3) An agency must use the following procedures to convert an administrative law judge's annual rate of basic pay to an hourly, daily, weekly, or biweekly rate:
(i) To derive an hourly rate, divide the annual rate of pay by 2,087 and round to the nearest cent, counting one-half cent and over as the next higher cent.
(ii) To derive a daily rate, multiply the hourly rate by the number of daily hours of service required by the administrative law judge's basic daily tour of duty.
(iii) To derive a weekly or biweekly rate, multiply the hourly rate by 40 or 80, respectively.
(b) Pay level AL-3 is the basic pay level for administrative law judge positions filled through a competitive examination.
(c) Subject to OPM approval, agencies may establish administrative law judge positions in pay levels AL-2 and AL-1. Administrative law judge positions are placed at these levels when they involve significant administrative and managerial responsibilities.
(d) Administrative law judges must serve at least 1 year in each AL pay level, or in an equivalent or higher level in positions in the Federal service, before advancing to the next higher level and may advance only one level at a time.
(e) Except as provided in paragraph (f) of this section, upon appointment to an administrative law judge position and placement in level AL-3, an administrative law judge is paid at the minimum rate A of AL-3. He or she is automatically advanced successively to rates B, C, and D of that level upon completion of 52 weeks of service in the next lower rate, and to rates E and F of that level upon completion of 104 weeks of service in the next lower rate. Time in a non-pay status is generally creditable service when computing the 52-or 104-week period as long as it does not exceed 2 weeks per year for each 52 weeks of service. However, absence due to uniformed service or compensable injury is fully creditable upon reemployment as provided in part 353 of this chapter.
(f) Upon appointment to a position at AL-3, an administrative law judge may be paid at the minimum rate A, unless the administrative law judge is eligible for the higher rate B, C, D, E, or F because of prior service or superior qualifications, as provided in paragraphs (f)(1) and (f)(2) of this section.
(1) An agency may offer an administrative law judge applicant with prior Federal service a higher than minimum rate up to the lowest rate of basic pay that equals or exceeds the applicant's highest previous Federal rate of basic pay, not to exceed the maximum rate F.
(2) With prior OPM approval, an agency may pay the rate of pay that is next above the applicant's existing pay or earnings up to the maximum rate F. The agency may offer a higher than minimum rate to:
(i) An administrative law judge applicant with superior qualifications (as defined in § 930.202) who is within reach for appointment from an administrative law judge certificate of eligibles; or
(ii) A former administrative law judge with superior qualifications who is eligible for reinstatement.
(g) With prior OPM approval, an agency, on a one-time basis, may advance an administrative law judge in an AL-3 position with added administrative and managerial duties and responsibilities one rate above the administrative law judge's current AL-3 pay rate, up to the maximum rate F.
(h) Upon appointment to an administrative law judge position placed at AL-2 or AL-1, an administrative law judge is paid at the established rate for the level.
(i) An employing agency may reduce the level or rate of basic pay of an administrative law judge under § 930.211.
(j) With prior OPM approval, an employing agency may reduce the level of basic pay of an administrative law judge if the administrative law judge submits to the employing agency a written request for a voluntary reduction due to personal reasons.
(a) An agency may detail an administrative law judge from one administrative law judge position to another administrative law judge position within the same agency in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 3341.
(b) An agency may not detail an employee who is not an administrative law judge to an administrative law judge position.
(c) An agency may assign an administrative law judge to perform non-administrative law judge duties only when:
(1) The other duties are consistent with administrative law judge duties and responsibilities;
(2) The assignment is to last no longer than 120 days; and
(3) The administrative law judge has not had a total of more than 120 days of such assignments or details within the preceding 12 months.
(d) OPM may authorize a waiver of paragraphs (c)(2) and (c)(3) of this section if an agency shows that it is in the public interest to do so. In determining whether a waiver is justified, OPM may consider, but is not restricted to considering, such factors as unusual case load or special expertise of the detailee.
(a) In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 3344,OPM. An agency may request from OPM the services of an administrative law judge if the agency is occasionally or temporarily insufficiently staffed with administrative law judges, or an agency may loan the services of its administrative law judges to other agencies if there is insufficient work to fully occupy the administrative law judges' work schedule.
(b) An agency's request to OPM for the services of an administrative law judge must:
(1) Identify and briefly describe the nature of the cases(s) to be heard;
(2) Specify the legal authority for which the use of an administrative law judge is required; and
(3) Demonstrate, as appropriate, that the agency has no administrative law judge available to hear the case(s).
(c) The services of an administrative law judge under this program are made from the starting date of the detail until the end of the current fiscal year, but may be extended into the next fiscal year with OPM's approval. Decisions for an extension are made by OPM on a case-by-case basis.
(d) The agency requesting the services of an administrative law judge under this program is responsible for reimbursing the agency that employs the administrative law judge for the cost of the service.
(a) OPM administers a Senior Administrative Law Judge Program in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 3323(b)(2). The Senior Administrative Law Judge Program is subject to the requirements and limitations in this section.
(b) A senior administrative law judge must meet the:
(1) Annuitant requirements under 5 U.S.C. 3323;
(2) Professional license requirement in § 930.204(b); and
(3) Investigations and suitability requirements in part 731 of this chapter.
(c) Under the Senior Administrative Law Judge Program, OPM authorizes agencies that have temporary, irregular workload requirements for conducting proceedings in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 556 and 557 to temporarily reemploy administrative law judge annuitants. If OPM is unable to identify an administrative law judge under § 930.208 who meets the agency's qualification requirements, OPM will approve the agency's request.
(d) An agency wishing to temporarily reemploy an administrative law judge must submit a written request to OPM. The request must:
(1) Identify the statutory authority under which the administrative law judge is expected to conduct proceedings;
(2) Demonstrate the agency's temporary or irregular workload requirements for conducting proceedings;
(3) Specify the tour of duty, location, period of time, or particular cases(s) for the requested reemployment; and
(4) Describe any special qualifications the retired administrative law judge possesses that are required of the position, such as experience in a particular field, agency, or substantive area of law.
(e) OPM establishes the terms of the appointment for a senior administrative law judge. The senior administrative law judge may be reemployed either for a specified period not to exceed 1 year or for such time as may be necessary for the senior administrative law judge to conduct and complete the hearing and issue decisions for one or more specified cases. Upon agency request, OPM may reduce or extend such period of reemployment, as necessary, to coincide with changing staffing requirements.
(f) A senior administrative law judge serves subject to the same limitations as any other administrative law judge employed under this subpart and 5 U.S.C. 3105.
(g) A senior administrative law judge is paid the rate of basic pay for the pay level at which the position has been classified. If the position is classified at pay level AL-3, the senior administrative law judge is paid the lowest rate of basic pay in AL-3 that equals or exceeds the highest previous rate of basic pay attained by the individual as an administrative law judge immediately before retirement, up to the maximum rate F.
(a) Retention preference regulations. Except as modified by this section, the reduction in force regulations in part 351 of this chapter apply to administrative law judges.
(b) Determination of retention standing. In determining retention standing in a reduction in force, each agency lists its administrative law judges by group and subgroup according to tenure of employment, veterans' preference, and service date as outlined in part 351 of this chapter. Because administrative law judges are not given performance ratings (see § 930.206), the provisions in part 351 of this chapter referring to the effect of performance ratings on retention standing are not applicable to administrative law judges.
(c) Placement assistance. (1) An administrative law judge who is reached in an agency's reduction in force and receives a notification of separation is eligible for placement assistance under the agency's reemployment priority list established and maintained in accordance with subpart B of part 330 of this chapter.
(2) An administrative law judge who is reached by an agency in a reduction in force and who is notified of being separated, furloughed for more than 30 days, or demoted, is entitled to have his or her name placed on OPM's administrative law judge priority referral list for the level in which last served and for all lower levels.
(i) To have his or her name placed on the OPM priority referral list, a displaced administrative law judge must provide OPM with a request for priority referral placement, a resume or equivalent, a list of acceptable geographical locations, and a copy of the reduction in force notice at any time after the receipt of the specific reduction in force notice, but not later than 90 days after the date of separation, furlough for more than 30 days, or demotion.
(ii) Eligibility on the OPM priority referral list expires 2 years after the effective date of the reduction in force action.
(iii) Referral and selection of administrative law judges are made without regard to selective certification or special qualification procedures.
(iv) Termination of eligibility on the OPM priority referral list takes place when an administrative law judge submits a written request to terminate eligibility, accepts a permanent full-time administrative law judge position, or declines one full-time employment offer as an administrative law judge at or above the level held when reached for reduction in force at geographic locations indicated as acceptable under paragraph (c)(2)(i) of this section.
(3) When there is no administrative law judge available on the agency's reemployment priority list, an agency may fill a vacant administrative law judge position only from OPM's priority referral list, unless the agency obtains prior approval from OPM to fill the vacant position through competitive examining, promotion, transfer, reassignment, or reinstatement procedures. OPM will grant such approvals only under extraordinary circumstances. The agency must demonstrate that the potential administrative law judge candidate possesses experience and qualifications superior to any available displaced administrative law judge on OPM's priority referral list.
(a) Procedures. An agency may remove, suspend, reduce in level, reduce in pay, or furlough for 30 days or less an administrative law judge only for good cause established and determined by the Merit Systems Protection Board on the record and after opportunity for a hearing before the Board as prescribed in 5 U.S.C. 7521 and 5 CFR part 1201. Procedures for adverse actions by agencies under part 752 of this chapter do not apply to actions against administrative law judges.
(b) Status during removal proceedings. In exceptional cases when there are circumstances in which the retention of an administrative law judge in his or her position, pending adjudication of the existence of good cause for his or her removal, is detrimental to the interests of the Federal Government, the agency may:
(1) Assign the administrative law judge to duties consistent with his or her normal duties in which these circumstances would not exist;
(2) Place the administrative law judge on leave with his or her consent;
(3) Carry the administrative law judge on annual leave, sick leave, leave without pay, or absence without leave, as appropriate, if he or she is voluntarily absent for reasons not originating with the agency; or
(4) If the alternatives in paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(3) of this section are not available, the agency may consider placing the administrative law judge in a paid non-duty or administrative leave status.
(c) Exceptions from procedures. The procedures in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section do not apply:
(1) In making dismissals or taking other actions under 5 CFR part 731;
(2) In making dismissals or other actions made by agencies in the interest of national security under 5 U.S.C. 7532;
(3) To reduction in force actions taken by agencies under 5 U.S.C. 3502; or
(4) In any action initiated by the Office of Special Counsel under 5 U.S.C. 1215.