DELEGATED DECISIONS ARE STILL FINAL AGENCY ORDERS
Recently, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled that a decision made by a Deputy, when delegated by the Commissioner, has the effect of a Final Decision, even if not endorsed by the Commissioner. In Harrod, a hearing was first held before a deputy commissioner pursuant to Section 17A.15(3). The case was then appealed to the Commissioner for a final decision. The Commissioner then delegated the authority to issue the final agency review decision to another deputy commissioner. The argument in Harrod, was that because the second deputy commissioner was also a deputy commissioner, not the Commissioner, the second ruling should be given the same deference as the first. The Court of Appeals soundly rejected this contention. In so doing, the Court of Appeals first reminded the parties that a deputy commissioner’s decision upon initial hearing is only “a proposed decision.” Iowa Code §17A.15(3). Final agency decision power comes from the Commissioner. The Commissioner has the power to delegate that final agency decision making authority to another deputy commissioner under Section 86.3. Therefore, the reviewing deputy becomes cloaked in the final authority of the Commissioner, and the reviewing deputy’s decision is of significantly more weight than the first. If you have questions about appealing a previous decision or about civil procedure in the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commission, please contact Micah Hawker Boehnke or Paul Barta at 402-475-1075.