​Illinois Bureau of Administrative Hearings

About the Bureau of Administrative Hearings

governor signing executive order

The public interacts with administrative agencies any time they apply for a driver’s license, file their taxes, send their children to public school, or apply for a business or professional license. These functions often have a hearing component, through which citizens and entities can have issues heard and decided by administrative law judges. Unfortunately, too many Illinoisans are facing long waits and inefficient processes when dealing with State administrative hearings.

On April 29, 2016, Governor Rauner issued Executive Order 2016-06, establishing a Pilot Bureau of Administrative Hearings within CMS, charged with gathering data on existing processes, assessing the feasibility of moving toward a centralized administrative hearings process, streamlining regulations related to administrative hearings, bringing the State’s case management systems into the 21st century, and improving professional development for the State’s adjudicators. Executive Order 2016-06 authorized formal participation by up to 10 executive branch agencies in the Bureau’s work. The Bureau’s end-of-pilot report is available in the publications tab.

Based on the Pilot Bureau’s record of success and the desire to continue the progress of transforming the State’s administrative hearings process, on August 2, 2017, Governor issued Executive Order 2017-04. This executive order makes the Bureau a permanent fixture in State government and expands its authority to engage with up to 25 executive branch agencies. Read the executive order HERE.

 Bureau Successes

Through the pilot period, the Bureau worked across executive branch agencies to share best practices and identify ongoing structural impediments. agencies generously provided staff to serve on one or more of the Bureau’s committees – Rules Committee, IT Committee, and Professional Development Committee. Each member brought unique strengths and experiences to the Bureau’s work.

The Bureau developed and distributed the first-ever ALJ Code of Professional Conduct, bringing Illinois in line with other states and giving valuable guidance to adjudicators. From February through June, the Bureau provided/coordinated more than 1,100 hours of training for attorneys serving the State, primarily administrative law judges.

The Bureau authored a draft set of model hearings rules to reduce the length of hearings, drive efficiencies, and preserve due process. Adoption of model rules provides consistency for litigants and implementation of best practices across agencies.

A pilot case-sharing initiative between the Illinois Departments of Labor and Public Health and the Departments of Labor and Revenue resulted in nearly 550 additional wage and hour claims being heard between October 2016 and June 2017. The Bureau facilitated the sharing of human resources between agencies to allow hearings to be heard by existing State employees instead of agencies entering into expensive contracts with private attorneys. In May 2017, CMS hired a full-time administrative law judge to hear cases for six State agencies, allowing these agencies to cancel their contracts.

 ‭(Hidden)‬ What's next?

Centralizing the administrative hearings process is Illinois is not a new concept. Since 1999, the General Assembly has considered bills to create a centralized panel of administrative law judges no less than eight times. Each time, it failed to become law, in large part because of opposition by administrative agencies.

Pursuant to Executive Order No. 6 (2016), the Pilot Bureau will continue its work through June 30, 2017. No later than July 30, 2017, the Bureau will make recommendations to both the Governor’s Office and the legislature about next steps to ensure that Illinois has the most professional, transparent, and efficient administrative hearings process possible.

In the intervening six months, the Bureau will continue to gather data from administrative agencies, coordinate with agencies to further streamline administrative hearings processes, work to find solutions to the State’s technological needs, and develop additional professional development tools to ensure our outstanding adjudicators have access to the resources they need to be their best and to do the best work they can for the State of Illinois.