Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar this week directed the department’s operating divisions and offices to review and revise their procedures related to civil enforcement actions and adjudications “to ensure that they promote fairness and transparency.”
The memo is effectively a companion to a regulation finalized earlier this week that “generally prohibit[s] HHS from treating noncompliance with a standard or practice announced solely in a guidance document as itself a violation of law.”
Many of the principles outlined in the document are the cornerstone of procedural due process in American courts. The memo and rule apply to proceedings before an administrative law judge or department appeals board where an agency of the department seeks to impose penalties, collect overpayments, or debar a contractor, grantee or licensee.
The memo does not apply to any action taken by the Office of Inspector General or OIG audits (including audit findings and audit recommendations).