History and Background
The public interacts with administrative agencies every day when they apply for a driver’s license, file their taxes, send their children to public school, or apply for a business or professional license. Administrative agencies became increasingly popular in the twentieth century to deal with social and economic problems. Administrative agencies have three main tools to deal with these problems: they can create rules, investigate violations of those rules, and make decisions through administrative hearings.
Administrative hearings units work much like the courts that handle civil cases, but there are some major differences. Administrative hearings units often have relaxed rules of procedure regulating how a case moves forward and are heard. This is intended to make it easier for individuals, often not represented by attorneys, to present their case. Historically, in Illinois, administrative courts are also limited in what types of cases they decide. For example, the Department of Revenue may handle a case about taxes, but do not handle cases about whether a physician holds adequate qualifications for licensure. Because of these limitations, litigants before the State’s various administrative courts can have very different experiences while facing different procedural requirements. While one set of litigants can have resolution within months, others may wait for years. Without a centralized structure, the State was not poised to address these disparities.
The idea of a centralized venue for administrative hearings in the State of Illinois has been in the making for decades. Just since 1999, eight bills, sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats, have been presented in the General Assembly; each failed to become law. Thankfully for the citizens of Illinois, on April 29, 2016, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed
Executive Order No. 06 (2016) creating the
Bureau of Administrative Hearings to eliminate the backlog and delay in state administrative proceedings. The mission was to initiate a pilot program through which the State provided central, uniform support to a limited number of State agencies and to determine whether further consolidation should be considered through a subsequent executive order or legislation.
In 2016, the same year the Bureau was created, over 25 Illinois state agencies conducted their own administrative hearings, there were over 100 types of hearings held and over 150,000 hearing requests received. Some of these state agency hearings were backlogged and took in excess of two years to complete.
Working Toward Consolidating Hearings Functions
Within the first six months of the pilot, the Bureau invited the Illinois Department of Revenue, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Illinois Department of Labor to participate. From October 2016 through June 2017, nearly 550 hearings having been completed thanks to the dedicated work of Administrative Law Judges who were cross-trained and given program support. Later, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and the Illinois State Police also joined forces to meet an existing State need. In December 2016, IDFPR administrative law judges began to hear certain kinds of cases for the ISP. These successes were accomplished at no cost to taxpayers by entering into an interagency contracts with each participating State agency, as authorized by the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act and other applicable laws.
In May 2017, the Bureau took this consolidated approach one step further, hiring an administrative law judge to hear cases for agencies who, despite being authorized to hold hearings, did not employ adjudicators. With no centralized coordination, these agencies looks to solve this problem on an agency-by-agency basis. The solutions usually come in one of three varieties: (1) individually contracting with private sector lawyers to act as administrative law judges; (2) contracting with other State agencies to use their ALJs; or (3) task in-house lawyers to serve as administrative law judges deciding cases where their coworkers act as prosecutors. The first solution proved to be expensive with agencies spending well over $100,000 per year on outside contracts. Other State agencies are a valuable resource, but one that many agencies did not know how to utilize. Using co-workers as judge and prosecutor raises significant appearance-of-unfairness issues that should be avoided to improve confidence in government. The Bureau was able to provide a solution for this group of agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Drycleaner Environmental Response Trust Fund of Illinois, Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Department of Natural Resources, Office of State Fire Marshal, and Illinois State Police.
On August 2, 2017, Governor Rauner doubled down on his commitment to improve administrative hearings in Illinois when he issued Executive Order 2017-04, which made the Bureau permanent and expanded its ability to coordinate with up to 25 agencies in pursuit of providing excellent customer service, improving public trust, enabling more efficient administrative procedures, reducing backlog of cases, and implementing cost savings or cost avoidance measures.
Meet the People behind the Bureau’s Work
Deputy Director Sarah Kerley
Sarah Kerley has served as the Deputy Director over the Illinois Department of Central Management Services’ Bureau of Administrative Hearings since November 1, 2016. In that position, she is responsible for managing the Bureau and implementing Executive Orders 16-06 and 17-04. Before serving as Deputy Director, Ms. Kerley spent three years Deputy General Counsel and an Administrative Law Judge for the Illinois Labor Relations Board. Ms. Kerley also served as an Assistant Inspector General at the Office of Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor for three years before joining the ILRB. From 2004 through 2010, Ms. Kerley worked as an Assistant Attorney General in the General Law Bureau of the Illinois Attorney General’s Springfield Office. As an AAG, she represented State agencies and employees before various State administrative bodies and provided wide-ranging civil defense of State agencies and employees in state and federal courts.
Ms. Kerley received a B.S. in political science from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and a J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law. Sarah, her husband, and two kids reside in Rochester and adamantly root for the world’s best baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals.
IT Committee Chairman Corey-Anne Gulkewicz
Corey-Anne Gulkewicz is the General Counsel of the Illinois Department of Human Services. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and Economics and received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She started her career with the State of Illinois as an Associate Legal Counsel with the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. From there she moved to the Attorney General's Office as an Assistant Attorney General in the Crime Victims Compensation Bureau and was then promoted to Bureau Chief. In 2012, Corey-Anne joined the Department of Human Services General Counsel's Office as the Bureau Chief of Assistance Hearings and, within a year, three hearings bureaus were consolidated into one under her leadership. She was promoted to Deputy General Counsel over the Bureau of Hearings and Rules and was also appointed as the Chief EEO/AA Officer for DHS and was given responsibility over three additional bureaus: Bureau of Civil Affairs, the Bureau of Accessibility and Job Accommodation, and the Bureau of Policy. In July 2016, she was promoted to her current position as General Counsel.
Professional Development Committee Chairman Katy Straub
Katy Straub currently serves as Associate General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Division of Professional Regulation, where she advises agency staff and professional boards on legal and policy matters. In that capacity, Ms. Straub also analyzes proposed legislation affecting the agency and drafts administrative rules for agency adoption. Prior to joining the Office of General Counsel, Ms. Straub served as prosecutor for the Division, taking action to enforce licensing acts and rules governing healthcare professionals, prosecuting violations involving controlled substances, gross malpractice, fraudulent billing, and patient abandonment. Ms. Straub received her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and international studies from the University of Wisconsin and her Juris Doctorate degree with a Certificate in Health Law from DePaul University College of Law.
Rules Committee Chairman Sadzi Oliva
Effective January 17, 2017, Governor Rauner appointed Sadzi Martha Oliva to a five year term as ICC Commissioner. Prior to joining the ICC, Acting Commissioner Oliva was General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Previous positions within the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation include Ethics Officer, Administrative Law Judge and Chief of Medical Prosecutions.
She also worked at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as the Chief Administrative Law Judge. Early in her career, Acting Commissioner Oliva served as an Assistant Attorney General at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, Special Prosecutions Bureau, where she prosecuted financial crimes. Acting Commissioner Oliva was Chair of the Illinois Governor’s Office Administrative Hearings Review Committee which organized and presented the Chicago Bar Association’s Annual Administrative Law Conference as well as other continuing legal education seminars related to Administrative Hearings. She was also the co-chair of the Rules Subcommittee for Governor Bruce Rauner’s Bureau of Administrative Hearings Pilot and guided and helped draft the Model Rules of Practice in Administrative Hearings. Acting Commissioner Oliva earned a JD from Loyola University School of Law and a BA from DePaul. She is a member of the Cuban American Chamber of Commerce of Illinois, and has volunteered in multiple capacities including the Chicago Coalition for Law Related Education and Lawyers in the Classroom.