Investigation by Grievance Examiner.
(a) Scope of investigation.
The Examiner shall conduct an investigation of a nature and scope appropriate to the issues involved in the grievance.
Unless waived by the volunteer, a hearing must be held if the Examiner finds that the grievance involves disputed questions of fact that go to the heart of the agency determination. Only those facts found necessary by the Examiner on which to base his or her findings go to the heart of the Agency determination.
If the grievance does not involve such disputed questions of fact, or if the volunteer waives a hearing, the Examiner need not hold a hearing but must provide the parties an opportunity for presentation of their respective positions. At the Examiner's discretion, the investigation may include:
The securing of documentary evidence,
Personal interviews, including telephone interviews,
Affidavits, written interrogatories or depositions.
(b) Conduct of Hearing.
If a hearing is held, the conduct of the hearing and production of witnesses shall conform with the following requirements:
The hearing shall be held at a time and place determined by the Examiner who shall consider the convenience of parties and witnesses and expense to the Government in making his or her decision.
Attendance at the hearing will be limited to persons determined by the Examiner to have a direct connection with the grievance. If requested by the volunteer, the Examiner must open the hearing to the public.
The hearing shall be conducted so as to bring out pertinent facts, including the production of pertinent records.
Formal rules of evidence shall not be applied strictly, but the Examiner may exclude irrelevant or unduly repetitious testimony or evidence.
Decisions on the admissibility of evidence or testimony shall be made by the Examiner.
Testimony shall be under oath or affirmation, administered by the Examiner.
The Examiner shall give the parties an opportunity to present oral and written testimony that is relevant and material, and to cross-examine witnesses who testify.
The Examiner may exclude any person from the hearing for conduct that obstructs the hearing.
All parties are entitled to produce witnesses.
Volunteers, employees of a sponsor, and employees of ACTION shall be made available as witnesses when requested by the Examiner. The Examiner may request witnesses on his or her initiative. Parties shall furnish to the Examiner and to opposing parties a list of proposed witnesses, and an explanation of what the testimony of each is expected to show, at least ten (10) calendar days before the date of the hearing. The Examiner may waive the time limit in appropriate circumstances.
Employees of ACTION shall remain in a duty status during the time they are made available as witnesses.
Volunteers, employees and any other persons who serve as witnesses shall be free from coercion, discrimination or reprisal for presenting their testimony.
The Examiner must authorize payment of travel expenses and per diem at standard Government rates for the volunteer and the representative to attend the hearing. Payment of travel expenses and per diem at standard Government rates for other witnesses to attend the hearing are authorized only after the Examiner determines that the required testimony cannot be satisfactorily obtained by affidavit, written interrogatories, or deposition, at a lesser cost.
(d) Recording of Hearing.
A grievant may make a recording of the hearing at his or her own expense if no verbatim transcript is made. Such a recording is in no way to be treated as the official transcript of the hearing.
(e) Report of Hearing.
The Examiner shall normally prepare a written summary of the hearing which shall include all documents and exhibits submitted to and accepted by the Examiner during the course of the grievance. An Examiner may require a verbatim transcript if he or she determines that the grievance is so complex as to require such a transcript. If the hearing is reported verbatim, the Examiner shall make the transcript a part of the record of the proceedings. If the hearing is not reported verbatim, a suitable summary of pertinent portions of the testimony shall be made part of the record of proceedings. In such cases, the summary together with exhibits shall constitute the report of the hearing. The parties are entitled to submit written exceptions to any part of the summary, and these written exceptions shall be made part of the record of proceedings.