Executive Summary

This is the third compliance monitoring and further inquiry update of the performance evaluation conducted in 1997 on the Workers' Compensation Office of Judges (OOJ) as required by WVC §4-10-4a.

Issue Area 1: The Office of Judges has Reduced the Number of Pre-June 1995 Protests in Its Backlog.

The Office of Judges reduced the number of pre-June 1995 cases in their backlog from 3,595 in 1998 to 619 cases in the current reporting period. This is a significant improvement on the part of the OOJ.

Issue Area 2: The Office of Judges Has Eliminated Its Backlog of Cases Ready for Final Decision for Over 90 Days.

In the original performance review, seven per cent of OOJ cases awaited a final decision for over 180 days. In the current reporting period, no cases wait over 90 days for a decision. This is a commendable improvement over prior performance.

Issue Area 3: The Backlog of "Old Law" Permanent Total Disability Cases Created by the Worker's Compensation Division Continues to Decline.

The OOJ received 253 protests between October 1999 and September 2000, an average of 21 protests a month. The number is considered normal. The OOJ has successfully dealt with the protest backlog created in 1998 by the Workers' Compensation Division.

Issue Area 4: The Office of Judges Has Reduced Its Use of Contract Attorneys.

The OOJ has reduced its expenditures on contract attorneys since 1997. However, since the January 2000 update, the OOJ has not significantly reduced its reliance on contract attorneys.

Issue Area 5: The Chief Administrative Law Judge Does Not Comply With Reporting Requirements.

The ALJ is required to file a report indicating the degree of compliance with time standards. The report is to be filed with the Joint Committee on Government and Finance. The ALJ has not filed these reports with the Committee and reports that this requirement has not been fulfilled due to problems with the Office of Judges' Information Management System.