34 CFR 81.43 - Review by the Secretary.
(1) The Secretary's review of an initial decision is based on the record of the case, the initial decision, and any proper submissions of the parties or other participants in the case.
(2) During the Secretary's review of the initial decision there shall not be any ex parte contact between the Secretary and individuals representing the Department or the recipient.
(b) The ALJ's findings of fact, if supported by substantial evidence, are conclusive.
(c) The Secretary may affirm, modify, set aside, or remand the ALJ's initial decision.
(1) If the Secretary modifies, sets aside, or remands an initial decision, in whole or in part, the Secretary's decision includes a statement of reasons that supports the Secretary's decision.
(i) The Secretary may remand the case to the ALJ with instructions to make additional findings of fact or conclusions of law, or both, based on the evidence of record. The Secretary may also remand the case to the ALJ for further briefing or for clarification or revision of the initial decision.
(ii) If a case is remanded, the ALJ shall make new or modified findings of fact or conclusions of law or otherwise modify the initial decision in accordance with the Secretary's remand order.
(iii) A party may appeal a modified decision of the ALJ under the provisions of §§ 81.42 through 81.45. However, upon that review, the ALJ's new or modified findings, if supported by substantial evidence, are conclusive.
(3) The Secretary, for good cause shown, may remand the case to the ALJ to take further evidence, and the ALJ may make new or modified findings of fact and may modify the initial decision based on that new evidence. These new or modified findings of fact are likewise conclusive if supported by substantial evidence.