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.

History and Purpose

In spring of 1979, the WSBA Board of Governors appointed an Administrative Law Task Force in response to the House Committee on Ethics, Law and Justice. They investigated an allegation of unfairness in the quasi-administrative hearing process of administrative agencies. Adjudicators were employed by the agencies responsible for the substantive decision in dispute. There was a growing complexity and diversity of individual agency procedural rules governing the hearing process. The Task Force was independent of the Administrative Law Section, and Task Force members were not affiliated with agencies or entities regularly affected by agencies. The Task Force found a need for administrative disputes to be resolved with increased openness, fairness, quality, uniformity, and consistency. They recommended legislation that would create an independent, centralized OAH to increase accessibility to the public, expedite and cut red tape, and reduce costs.

Chapter 34.12 RCW was signed into law by Governor Spellman and created OAH effective April 25, 1981. OAH is under the direction of a chief administrative law judge (ALJ) appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate, to a term of five years. The first Chief ALJ was David LaRose, who served for 15 years. He was followed by Lisa Brodoff, Art Wang, Roosevelt Currie, Selwyn Walters (interim, non-appointed). Chief ALJ Lorraine Lee has led OAH since July 1, 2009.

Our mandate: “Hearings shall be conducted with the greatest degree of informality consistent with fairness and the nature of the proceeding.” RCW 34.12.010. OAH hearings provide people an opportunity to disagree and dispute the actions and decisions of state and local government agencies. An independent judge employed at OAH holds the hearing.


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.