(1) If the lender or servicer does not request an oral hearing but submits written material, the Secretary, or a designated Departmental official, considers the material and -
(i) Dismisses the proposed limitation or termination; or
(ii) Notifies the lender or servicer of the date the limitation or termination becomes effective.
(2) If the lender or servicer requests a hearing within the time specified in paragraph (a)(2)(vi) of this section, the Secretary schedules the date and place of the hearing. The date is at least 15 days after receipt of the request from the lender or servicer. No proposed limitation or termination takes effect until a hearing is held.
(3) The hearing is conducted by a presiding officer who -
(i) Ensures that a written record of the hearing is made;
(ii) Considers relevant written material presented before the hearing and other relevant evidence presented during the hearing; and
(iii) Issues an initial decision, based on findings of fact and conclusions of law, that may limit or terminate the lender's or servicer's eligibility if the presiding officer is persuaded that the limitation or termination is warranted by the evidence.
(4) The formal rules of evidence do not apply, and no discovery, as provided in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (28 U.S.C. appendix), is required.
(5) The presiding officer shall base findings of fact only on evidence presented at or before the hearing and matters given official notice.
(6) If a termination action is brought against a lender or third-party servicer and the presiding officer concludes that a limitation is more appropriate, the presiding officer may issue a decision imposing one or more limitations on a lender or third-party servicer rather than terminating the lender's or servicer's eligibility.
(7) In a termination action against a lender or third-party servicer based on a debarment under Executive Order 12549 or under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), 48 CFR part 9, subpart 9.4 that does not meet the standards described in 2 CFR 3485.612(d), the presiding official finds that the debarment constitutes prima facie evidence that cause for debarment and termination under this subpart exists.
(8) The initial decision of the presiding officer is mailed to the lender or servicer.
(9) Any time schedule specified in this section may be shortened with the approval of the presiding officer and the consent of the lender or servicer and the Secretary or designated Departmental official.
(10) The presiding officer's initial decision automatically becomes the Secretary's final decision 20 days after it is issued and received by both parties unless the lender, servicer, or designated Departmental official appeals the decision to the Secretary within this period.