About the Office of Administrative Hearings

Mission Statement

To hear and independently resolve disputes between the public and state agencies with an impartial, quick, and easy to access process.

Our Vision

All people of Washington can meaningfully participate in their hearing and understand the result.

Our Values

OAH Core Values

OAH Strategic Plan

OAH Strategic Plan defines long-term strategic goals and strategic objectives over the next five years.  The strategic goals are broad, long-term outcomes aimed to further the Agency mission.

OAH Data Reports

Click OAH Data Reports to see the OAH Data Reports.


In 1981 the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) was created to hold fair and impartial hearings. The purpose of OAH is to promote public trust and confidence in the hearing process.

If a person disagrees with something done by state agencies, they have the right to a hearing.  Before OAH was created, the hearing was held by a judge from that same state agency.  When OAH was created, a new structure was set up with some agencies.  The appeal hearings were moved and held by an independent judge at OAH.  


OAH impacts the lives of thousands of people every year. OAH holds hearings for people who have a dispute with a state or local agency. OAH schedules hearings as quickly as possible. OAH makes the hearing process accessible. Many of our hearings are held over the phone.  OAH will provide an interpreter if needed.

The hearing gives people a chance to tell their side of the story and to ask questions of the other side. During the hearing, the parties have several rights. They have the right to bring witnesses to testify.  They have the right to ask questions of the other side’s witnesses. They have the right to offer evidence.  The judge plays an active role in the hearing. The judge might ask questions of witnesses. The judge controls the hearing to make sure the important facts are discussed.

It is common for parties to have a different version of what happened.  The judge will listen to both sides and make a decision based on all the information.

The judge will issue a written decision after the hearing is over. In the written decision, the judge will try to use language that is easy to understand.

A person may have the decision translated into a different language.  They may call OAH for a free oral translation.

If a party does not agree with the judge’s order, they can appeal that order.

Code of Ethics

Judges follow rules and laws of ethics. 

OAH goes above the minimum requirements of the Ethics in Public Service Act.  OAH has its own Code of Ethics.  It makes sure that judges meet the standard of fairness that the public expects. OAH holds its judges to an even higher standard of ethics than the minimum.