7 CFR 15.9 - Hearings.
(a) Opportunity for hearing. Whenever an opportunity for a hearing is required under the regulations in this part, reasonable notice shall be given by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the affected applicant or recipient. This notice shall advise the applicant or recipient of the action proposed to be taken, the specific provision under which the proposed action against it is to be taken, and the matters of fact or law asserted as the basis for this action, and either (1) fix a date not less than 20 days after the date of such notice within which the applicant or recipient may request of the Secretary or the Agency that the matter be scheduled for hearing or (2) advise the applicant or recipient that the matter in question has been set down for hearing at a stated place and time. The time and place so fixed shall be reasonable and shall be subject to change for cause. The complainant, if any, shall be advised of the time and place of the hearing. An applicant or recipient may waive a hearing and submit written information and argument for the record. The failure of an applicant or recipient to request a hearing under this subsection or to appear at a hearing for which a date has been set shall be deemed to be a waiver of the right to a hearing under section 602 of the Act and the regulations in this part and consent to the making of a decision on the basis of such information as is available.
(b) Time and place of hearing. Hearings shall be held at the offices of the Department in Washington, DC, at a time fixed by the hearing officer or by the Secretary unless it is determined that the convenience of the applicant or recipient or of the Department requires that another place be selected. Hearings shall be held before a hearing officer.
(c) Right to counsel. In all proceedings under this section, the applicant or recipient and the Department shall have the right to be represented by counsel.
(d) Procedures, evidence, and record.
(1) The hearing, decision, and any administrative review thereof shall be conducted in conformity with 5 U.S.C. 554-557, and in accordance with such rules of procedure promulgated by the Secretary as not inconsistent with this section, relating to the conduct of the hearing, giving of notices subsequent to those provided for in paragraph (a) of this section, taking of testimony, exhibits, arguments and briefs, requests for findings, and other related matters. Both the Department, and the applicant or recipient shall be entitled to introduce all relevant evidence on the issues as stated in the notice for hearing or as determined by the hearing officer conducting the hearing at the outset of or during the hearing.
(2) Technical rules of evidence shall not apply to hearings conducted pursuant to these regulations in this part, but rules or principles designed to assure production of the most credible evidence available and to subject testimony to test by cross-examination shall be applied where reasonably necessary by the hearing officer. The hearing officer may exclude irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious evidence. All documents and other evidence offered or taken for the record shall be open to examination by the parties and opportunity shall be given to refute facts and arguments advanced on either side of the issues. A transcript shall be made of the oral evidence except to the extent the substance thereof is stipulated for the record. All decisions shall be based upon the hearing record and written findings shall be made.
(e) Consolidated or joint hearings. In cases in which the same or related facts are asserted to constitute noncompliance with these regulations with respect to two or more to which the regulations in this part apply, or noncompliance with the regulations in this part and the regulations of one or more other Federal Departments or Agencies issued under title VI of the Act, the Secretary may, by agreement with such other Departments or Agencies, where applicable provide for the conduct of consolidated or joint hearings, and for the application to such hearings of rules of procedure not inconsistent with the regulations in this part. Final decisions in such cases, insofar as the regulations in this part are concerned, shall be made in accordance with § 15.10.