WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1) and Congressman Gerry Connolly (VA-11) reintroduced the Administrative Law Judges Competitive Service Restoration Act, bipartisan legislation to reestablish Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) as members of the competitive civil service. 

Approximately 2,000 Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) currently serve in agencies across the Executive Branch, adjudicating administrative proceedings that affect critical issues such as labor relations, public health, social security benefits, and national security. For decades, ALJs were hired through a competitive service appointment process administered by the Office of Personnel Management.  Because this process was run by an agency that was independent of the hiring agency, it helped to ensure that the pool of available ALJs was both qualified and impartial.

In July 2018, however, AJL’s were removed from the competitive service and placed into the excepted service, outside the reach of normal hiring and employment protections and not subject to requirements for minimum qualifications. The ALJ Competitive Service Restoration Act would reestablish ALJs as members of the competitive civil service who are appointed by the heads of Executive departments or agencies and who meet minimum qualifications.

“Decisions made by administrative law judges have an overwhelming impact on Americans’ Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ benefits, and more,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “It is vital that these decisions are made by impartial, well-qualified judges selected for their merit and expertise, not political affiliation. I am proud to join Rep. Connolly in introducing this bipartisan legislation to ensure an independent and non-partisan approach to these appointments.”

“The civil service is our nation’s greatest asset, and its independent, apolitical nature is paramount to the federal government’s ability to serve the American people,” said Congressman Connolly. “The federal workforce must remain free from political interference. This bill is essential to restoring civil service rights and protections to ALJs and to protecting the position from infiltration by partisan operatives. Without this bill, we erode the independence necessary to fulfill the duties of this role.”

The ALJ Competitive Service Restoration Act is endorsed by the following organizations: American College of Legal Medicine (ACLM), Association of Administrative Law Judges (AALJ), and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE).

Full text of the legislation is available here