Other Fields
Agency Scheme: 
Hearing Level: Basic Structure
Name of Hearing Office (local name): 
Office of the Chief Conservationist
Name of Hearing Office (global name): 
Department of Agriculture: Office of the Chief Conservationist
National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Hearing Officer #1 (Title): 
State Conservationist
Hearing Officer #2 (Title): 
Designated Conservationist
Are administrative appeals permitted from final decisions at the hearing-level stage?: 
Comments/Notes on Adjudication Structure: 

Informal adjudication scheme under Part 614 for informal administrative review of adverse program decisions and technical decisions by the Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) relating to a variety of programs, including such areas as: conservation, highly erodible lands, wetlands, wildlife habitats, grassland reserves, watershed, and protection. Mediation is available upon party request.

If parties elect to appeal to appeal adverse NRCS decisions to either the National Appeals Division under Part 11 or Title XII-related matters to the Farm Services Agency (FSA) County Committee under Part 780, such hearings/appeals are covered by separate forms for those respective adjudication programs.

PROCESS & PROCEDURE - General Information
Are private parties permitted to have representation at hearings?: 
Yes (All Types of Cases)
Who may serve as a private party representative?: 
Regulations/rules of practice for hearings (please include CFR citations): 
7 CFR pt. 614 (7 CFR 614.1 - 614.17)
PROCESS & PROCEDURE - Pre-Hearing Procedure
Is discovery permitted by either party at the hearing-level stage?: 
Yes (Some Types of Cases)
Briefly describe the scope and type(s) of discovery available (e.g., depositions, interrogatories, etc.): 
*Program Decisions: No discovery permitted. * NRCS Reconsideration of Preliminary Technical Determinations: As part of the reconsideration process for adverse preliminary technical determinations, a party, the designated conservationist who issued the preliminary determination, and a district representative (at the option of the conservation district), a district representative, conduct a field visit to the subject site "for the purpose of gathering additional information and discussing the [relevant] facts" to such determination. (7 CFR 614.7) * FSA County Committee Referral of Final Technical Determination Review to State Conservationist: If the FSA County Committee hearing the appeal of a technical determination under Title XII requests review of that determination by the State Conservationist, the State Conservationist designates "an appropriate NRCS official" to (a) any additional information needed for the review, and (b) obtain additional oral and documentary evidence from any party with personal knowledge; and (c) conduct a field visit. (7 CFR 614.10)
Does the hearing officer have subpoena authority?: 
Are ex parte contacts prohibited?: 
Are parties provided notice of hearing?: 
Yes (All Types of Cases)
PROCESS & PROCEDURE - Hearing Procedure
What types of hearings are permitted at the hearing-level stage?: 
Written (Document-Only) Hearing
How is the type of hearing selected: 
Required by Rule
Please describe: 
*Program Decisions: Oral hearings are conducted by the State Conservationist as the hearing officer. (7 CFR 614.2(j) & 614.9(b)-(c)) * Technical Determinations: Hearings on written (document-only); however, aggrieved parties do have the opportunity to "discuss the [relevant] facts" to preliminary determinations at field visits. (7 CFR 614.7(b))
How many hearing officers preside at each hearing?: 
Is witness testimony permitted at hearings?: 
Varies by Case
If "Varies by Case," please describe: 
*Program Decisions: Witness testimony permitted at oral hearings. (7 CFR 614.2(j)). * Technical Determinations: N/A (document-only hearings).
Can third-parties submit amicus briefs and/or evidence?: 
Are hearings recorded and/or transcribed?: 
N/A (Document-Only Hearings)
PROCESS & PROCEDURE - Post-Hearing Procedure
Who has authority to issue final decisions?: 
Adjudication Officer
If "Other," please specify: 
For technical determinations, a preliminary technical determination issued by the designated conservationist (typically, the District Conservationist) becomes final if not appealed within 30 days. If appealed, then the State Conservationist issues the final technical determination.
Do agency regulations or guidance provide time limits for issuance of final decisions?: 
Yes (Some Types of Cases)
If "Yes," please specify these time limit(s): 
For program decisions, the State Conservationists is required to issue written decisions not later than 30 days from the date of the appeal request. For reconsideration of preliminary technical determinations: Designated Conservationist must issues within 15 days of field visit. No time limits for issuance of final technical determinations by State Conservationists, except that they are encouraged to do so "as soon as practicable" after receiving reconsideration decision and agency record.
Is judicial review available after issuance of a final decision?: 
PROCESS & PROCEDURE - Case Management
Does the agency permit web-based electronic filing of hearing-related briefs or other documents?: 
Are final decisions published and/or posted on the agency website?: 
Do agency regulations/rules of practice specify the contents of the administrative record at the hearing-level stage?: 
Yes (All Types of Cases)
If "Yes," please provide citation(s): 
7 CFR 614.2(b)
Do agency regulations/rules of practice provide for closure of the record at the hearing-level stage (subject to applicable exce: 
Comments/Notes on Hearing-Level Adjudicators (Optional): 
For program decisions, the State Conservationist serves as the hearing official. For technical determinations, the designated conservationist -- typically, the District Conservationist -- issues preliminary determination (which become final if not appealed), while the State Conservationist issues final technical determinations when a party challenges the preliminary determination.
ADR: General Information
Is ADR available at one or more points during the hearing process?: 
If "Yes," when is ADR available?: 
Is ADR a mandatory or voluntary process?: 
What type(s) of ADR are available?: 
Who conducts the ADR?: 
Third-Party Neutral
Regulations/rules of practice governing ADR process (please include CFR citations): 
7 CFR 614.11
Comments/Notes on ADR Process (Optional): 
Mediation is available at party request. Parties may be required to pay fee established by the mediation program. Mediation regulations guarantee mediator impartiality and confidentiality of mediation records. Parties have 30 days from the date of the first mediation session to reach a settlement agreement. At that time, the mediator notifies the State Conservationist whether the parties have reached an agreement.
Verified by Agency: 
Not verified