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Department of Homeland Security

Pilot Video Teleconferences Eliminate USCG ALJ Travel for S & R

USCG Suspension and Revocation hearings for mariner licenses are heard by Administrative Law Judges (ALJs). The USCG could significantly reduce the travel costs and lost time for these officials by allowing hearings to be conducted via video teleconference.

 

These hearings are administrative in nature and published regulations already allow for these hearings to include telephone testimony, so adjusting to video teleconferencing would not seriously degrade the hearing and in many cases could enhance them by adding the video component that would otherwise be lacking.

 

As there are only a handful of USCG administrative law judges, all with high case loads, this program could serve as an effective pilot program for other federal agencies considering the use of Video Teleconferencing (VTC).

 

Advantages include:

 

Reduced travel for ALJs resulting in less time lost to travel (significant cost consideration due to frequency of travel and cost of highly paid ALJs).

Reduced actual travel costs.

Reduced impact to licensed/credentialed personnel who currently have to travel to a remote location for the purpose of the hearing. These personnel often live significant distances from the unit where they are charged and where the hearing is held.

Enhanced testimony of witnesses who could now testify via video teleconference vs. via phone. Alternately, it would reduce cost if the original intent was to pay for their physical presence for live testimony.

Enhanced pre-hearing conferences could be conducted with ALJs, mariners, and counsel.

Tangential benefits could be derived from field units with VTCs installed since they could be available for use for other operational purposes when not being used for hearings.

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Idea No. 9077