The Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings
We independently resolve administrative disputes through accessible, fair, prompt processes and issue sound decisions.
OAH offers the people of Washington a convenient, easy to navigate system to request and receive fair and impartial hearings on their appeals of government actions. OAH is the preferred neutral forum for Washingtonians to resolve their disputes with state and local government agencies.
OAH Strategic Plan
Click here to see the OAH Strategic Plan.
In 1981 the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) was created to hold fair and impartial hearings. The purpose of OAH is to promote public trust and confidence in the hearing process.
If a person disagrees with something done by state agencies, they have the right to a hearing. Before OAH was created, the hearing was held by a judge from that same state agency. When OAH was created, a new structure was set up with some agencies. The appeal hearings were moved and held by an independent judge at OAH.
OAH impacts the lives of thousands of people every year. OAH holds hearings for people who have a dispute with a state or local agency. OAH schedules hearings as quickly as possible. OAH makes the hearing process accessible. Many of our hearings are held over the phone. OAH will provide an interpreter if needed.
The hearing gives people a chance to tell their side of the story and to ask questions of the other side. During the hearing, the parties have several rights. They have the right to bring witnesses to testify. They have the right to ask questions of the other side’s witnesses. They have the right to offer evidence. The judge plays an active role in the hearing. The judge might ask questions of witnesses. The judge controls the hearing to make sure the important facts are discussed.
It is common for parties to have a different version of what happened. The judge will listen to both sides and make a decision based on all the information.
The judge will issue a written decision after the hearing is over. In the written decision, the judge will try to use language that is easy to understand.
A person may have the decision translated into a different language. They may call OAH for a free oral translation.
If a party does not agree with the judge’s order, they can appeal that order.
Code of Ethics
Judges follow rules and laws of ethics.
OAH goes above the minimum requirements of the Ethics in Public Service Act. OAH has its own Code of Ethics. It makes sure that judges meet the standard of fairness that the public expects. OAH holds its judges to an even higher standard of ethics than the minimum.