49 CFR § 26.89 - What is the process for certification appeals to the Department of Transportation?

§ 26.89 What is the process for certification appeals to the Department of Transportation?

(a)

(1) If you are a firm that is denied certification or whose eligibility is removed by a recipient, including SBA-certified firms, you may make an administrative appeal to the Department.

(2) If you are a complainant in an ineligibility complaint to a recipient (including the concerned operating administration in the circumstances provided in § 26.87(c)), you may appeal to the Department if the recipient does not find reasonable cause to propose removing the firm's eligibility or, following a removal of eligibility proceeding, determines that the firm is eligible.

(3) Send appeals to the following address: U.S. Department of Transportation, Departmental Office of Civil Rights, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.

(b) Pending the Department's decision in the matter, the recipient's decision remains in effect. The Department does not stay the effect of the recipient's decision while it is considering an appeal.

(c) If you want to file an appeal, you must send a letter to the Department within 90 days of the date of the recipient's final decision, including information and setting forth a full and specific statement as to why the decision is erroneous, what significant fact that the recipient failed to consider, or what provisions of this Part the recipient did not properly apply. The Department may accept an appeal filed later than 90 days after the date of the decision if the Department determines that there was good cause for the late filing of the appeal or in the interest of justice.

(d) When it receives an appeal, the Department requests a copy of the recipient's complete administrative record in the matter. If you are the recipient, you must provide the administrative record, including a hearing transcript, within 20 days of the Department's request. The Department may extend this time period on the basis of a recipient's showing of good cause. To facilitate the Department's review of a recipient's decision, you must ensure that such administrative records are well organized, indexed, and paginated. Records that do not comport with these requirements are not acceptable and will be returned to you to be corrected immediately. If an appeal is brought concerning one recipient's certification decision concerning a firm, and that recipient relied on the decision and/or administrative record of another recipient, this requirement applies to both recipients involved.

(e) The Department makes its decision based solely on the entire administrative record as supplemented by the appeal. The Department does not make a de novo review of the matter and does not conduct a hearing. The Department may also supplement the administrative record by adding relevant information made available by the DOT Office of Inspector General; Federal, State, or local law enforcement authorities; officials of a DOT operating administration or other appropriate DOT office; a recipient; or a firm or other private party.

(f) As a recipient, when you provide supplementary information to the Department, you shall also make this information available to the firm and any third-party complainant involved, consistent with Federal or applicable state laws concerning freedom of information and privacy. The Department makes available, on request by the firm and any third-party complainant involved, any supplementary information it receives from any source.

(1) The Department affirms your decision unless it determines, based on the entire administrative record, that your decision is unsupported by substantial evidence or inconsistent with the substantive or procedural provisions of this part concerning certification.

(2) If the Department determines, after reviewing the entire administrative record, that your decision was unsupported by substantial evidence or inconsistent with the substantive or procedural provisions of this part concerning certification, the Department reverses your decision and directs you to certify the firm or remove its eligibility, as appropriate. You must take the action directed by the Department's decision immediately upon receiving written notice of it.

(3) The Department is not required to reverse your decision if the Department determines that a procedural error did not result in fundamental unfairness to the appellant or substantially prejudice the opportunity of the appellant to present its case.

(4) If it appears that the record is incomplete or unclear with respect to matters likely to have a significant impact on the outcome of the case, the Department may remand the record to you with instructions seeking clarification or augmentation of the record before making a finding. The Department may also remand a case to you for further proceedings consistent with Department instructions concerning the proper application of the provisions of this part.

(5) The Department does not uphold your decision based on grounds not specified in your decision.

(6) The Department's decision is based on the status and circumstances of the firm as of the date of the decision being appealed.

(7) The Department provides written notice of its decision to you, the firm, and the complainant in an ineligibility complaint. A copy of the notice is also sent to any other recipient whose administrative record or decision has been involved in the proceeding (see paragraph (d) of this section). The Department will also notify the SBA in writing when DOT takes an action on an appeal that results in or confirms a loss of eligibility to any SBA-certified firm. The notice includes the reasons for the Department's decision, including specific references to the evidence in the record that supports each reason for the decision.

(8) The Department's policy is to make its decision within 180 days of receiving the complete administrative record. If the Department does not make its decision within this period, the Department provides written notice to concerned parties, including a statement of the reason for the delay and a date by which the appeal decision will be made.

(g) All decisions under this section are administratively final, and are not subject to petitions for reconsideration.

[64 FR 5126, Feb. 2, 1999, as amended at 65 FR 68951, Nov. 15, 2000; 68 FR 35556, June 16, 2003; 73 FR 33329, June 12, 2008; 79 FR 59599, Oct. 2, 2014]