IBLA FAQs

Q1:  What is the Interior Board of Land Appeals?

A:The Interior Board of Land Appeals (Board) decides appeals of final agency decisions for the Department of the Interior.  Located within the Department’s Office of Hearings and Appeals, the Board is separate and independent from the bureaus/offices/agencies whose decisions it reviews.  The Board currently consists of six administrative judges, including the Chief and Deputy Chief Administrative Judges.

Q2:  How can I contact the Board?

A:  Interior Board of Land Appeals
Office of Hearings and Appeals
U.S. Department of the Interior
801 N. Quincy Street, Suite 300
Arlington, VA 22203
703-235-3750 (voice)
703-235-8349 (facsimile)
ibla@oha.doi.gov (email)
Our regular business hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST.

Q3:  How can I access documents filed in an appeal if I am not a party?

A:  Nonparties should file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Board (foia@oha.doi.gov) if they wish to access documents filed in a pending appeal.
Guidance for public access to documents filed with the Board is set forth in OHA’s System of Records Notice (SORN). 80 Fed. Reg. 26291 (May 7, 2015). OHA’s SORN provides that material filed with the Board is protected by the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a. Therefore, nonparties generally cannot view or obtain records without proving that they are entitled to them; documents requested by members of the public and the media must first be analyzed under principles set forth in FOIA and the Department’s implementing regulations at 43 C.F.R. Part 2.
Please visit OHA’s FOIA website for more information on filing a FOIA request with the Board. https://www.doi.gov/oha/foia-reading-room

Q4:  How does the Board make decisions?

A:  The Board generally sits in panels of two administrative judges who decide each matter.  Most matters are decided based on applicable law and the filings submitted by the parties.  In addition to decisions, the Board also issues procedural orders, which require only one judge’s signature, and final orders that are not binding precedent.

Q5:  What law applies to Board orders and decisions?

A:  Applicable law includes, but is not limited to: the Board’s regulations printed in the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.), 43 C.F.R. Subpart E; other practice and procedural rules published at 43 C.F.R. Part 1 and Subpart B; various statutes and regulations covering decisions under appeal; and Federal and Board case law.

Q6:  What is the difference between a dispositive order and a decision?

A:  Dispositive orders resolve an appeal and are binding on the parties.  However, orders are not precedential and the Board is not obligated to follow or distinguish them in future orders or decisions issued in other appeals.  Decisions are precedential.  This means that they may be cited or relied upon in future appeals. 
The Board also issues over 300 procedural orders each year.  Those orders do not always resolve an appeal, but rule on, for example, a petition to stay the effect of the decision on appeal.

Q7:  Where can I find Board decisions?

A:  Board decisions can be found here:  https://www.doi.gov/oha/organization/ibla/Finding-IBLA-Decisions/Cumulative-Chronological-Index-of-Cases.cfm.  Board decisions are also available from on-line legal research providers.  Other applicable law is also available on the web from on-line legal research providers.

Q8:  Where can I find Board final orders?

A: All dispositive orders issued in calendar year 2016 can be located on our website.  For copies of our unpublished orders, please email us at ibla@oha.doi.gov

 

Q9:  Who can file an appeal with the Board?

A:   Anyone who is affected by and does not agree with an agency’s final decision can appeal to the Board.  For further information on filing an appeal with the Board consult 43 C.F.R. §§ 4.410-4.413.

Q10:  How do I participate in an appeal that I did not file?

A:   If you want to participate in an appeal because you believe its outcome may adversely affect your interests, then you may file a motion with the Board in the manner provided in 43 C.F.R. § 4.406(a)-(c). Any interested person who wishes to inform the Board’s decision making in an appeal may file a motion to do so, as described in 43 C.F.R. § 4.406(d).
While Board regulations do not expressly require non-parties to serve motions filed with us on the named parties in an appeal, the Board recommends any non-party movant to serve courtesy copies of any filing lodged with the Board.

Q11:  Do I have to hire an attorney to represent me before the Board?

A:   No.  An individual may represent him or herself or a family member.  A list of entities and the type of representative that may practice before the Board is outlined in 43 C.F.R. § 1.3.  Legal assistance may be provided by an attorney, but the Board cannot refer you to an attorney.

Q12:  How much does it cost to file an appeal with the Board?

A:   Unless you are appealing a decision made by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management or the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (issued under 30 C.F.R. chapter II or chapter V, sub-chapter C,) there is no fee to file an appeal with the Board.  

Q13:  How do I file an appeal?

A:   Our procedural rules regarding our appeals process are posted on the web at https://www.doi.gov/oha/organization/ibla/Procedural-Regulations-for-Cases.cfm.  Generally, you must file your written notice of appeal in the bureau office that issued you the final decision.  Depending on the bureau the notice of appeal must be filed with that office within 30 days or 60 days after you received the decision.  30 C.F.R. §§ 290.4, 590.3, 1290.105, 43 C.F.R. § 4.411(a)(1), (a)(2)(i).  You must give a copy of the notice of appeal to each person named in the decision and to the Department’s Office of the Solicitor.  43 C.F.R. § 4.413.  For further information on filing an appeal with the Board consult 43 C.F.R. § 4.410-4.414.

Q14:  If I appeal, can the Department still implement its decision?

A:   In most cases, the Department cannot implement a decision during the 30 day “appeal period” that starts the date you receive the decision.  There are exceptions, however; some decisions can be implemented immediately, even if an appeal is filed.  You should consult the regulations specific to the type of decision you are appealing.
If you file a request for a stay along with your appeal, a 45-day period runs after the end of the appeal period for the Board to rule on the request and during which time the decision does not take effect (unless the decision is effective immediately).  If the Board grants a stay, this means the Department cannot implement its decision until there is a final ruling by the Board on the case.  To request a stay, you must file a petition with your notice of appeal.    For further information consult 43 C.F.R. § 4.21. 

Q15:  What happens if I filed a request (petition) for a stay, but the Board didn’t rule within the 45-day timeframe?

A:   If the Board does not rule on a stay request by the end of the 45-day period, then the stay is deemed to have been denied and the Department may take the action authorized by the decision.  However, even after the 45-day period, the Board may still rule on the stay request.  For further information consult 43 C.F.R. § 4.21(a)(3). 

Q16:  How can I get a copy of the case file from the agency? 

A:   You should contact the agency or counsel for the agency (if a solicitor has made an appearance in the case).  The agency is not required to provide you a copy of the case file, but must make the record available for you to view at its offices.  

Q17:  Can I file documents with the Board electronically?

A:   No.  All documents must be submitted by mail or hand delivery, except requests for extension of time may be faxed.  For further information on filing documents with the Board consult 43 C.F.R. § 4.401. 

Q18:  Are multiple copies of documents required to be filed with the Board?

A:   No.  Only one submission is necessary.

Q19:  Who else should get a copy of the documents I file with the Board?

A:   You should provide a copy of the documents to all other parties or their legal representative.  The legal representative of the Department is the Office of the Solicitor.  For further information on providing copies of documents of your appeal consult 43 C.F.R. § 4.401(c).  If a non-party wants a copy of documents filed in an appeal before the Board, the non-party must submit a request to the Office of Hearings and Appeals under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  For further information on FOIA requests consult 43 C.F.R. Part 2. 

Q20:  Does the Board have a document format I must follow?

A:   Yes.  Any document filed with the Board, other than an exhibit or an attachment, must be:

  • On letter-sized paper with 11-point font print (or larger) or clearly handwritten on one side of each page.
  • Double spaced (except for long quotations and footnotes) and with 1-inch margins.
  • Paginated.
  • Stapled or bound on the top, left side.

For further information on formatting documents consult 43 C.F.R. § 4.401(d). 

Q21:  What is a statement of reasons and when do I file it?

A:   Generally, a statement of reasons is the first document that is filed after your notice of appeal and explains why you are appealing.  In the statement of reasons you should discuss legal or factual errors you believe were made in the decision being appealed.  The statement of reasons is due to the Board 30 days after the notice of appeal was filed.  It is limited to 30 pages.  For further information on statements of reasons consult 43 C.F.R. § 4.412. 

Q22:  When is an answer to my statement of reasons due?

A:   The Department’s answer is typically due to the Board 30 days after the party received the statement of reasons.  It is limited to 30 pages.  For further information on answers consult 43 C.F.R. § 4.414(a). 

Q23:  Am I required to file a reply to the answer?

A:   No.  If you do file a reply, then you must file it with the Board no later than 15 days after you receive the answer.  The reply must be limited to the issue(s) raised in the answer and is limited to 20 pages.  For further information on replies consult 43 C.F.R. § 4.412(d). 

Q24:  May I ask for an extension of the deadline to file a document?

A:   Yes.  You may ask for an extension to file any document except your notice of appeal.  You must file any request for an extension no later than the day before the due date.  Extensions are granted for “good cause” (except the first extension to file an answer) so you should state why you have a good reason for needing an extension.  For further information on extensions consult 43 C.F.R. § 4.405.

Q25:  Can I file a motion with the Board?

A:   Yes.  Any motion may be filed with the Board at any time.  For further information on motions consult 43 C.F.R. §§ 4.401, 4.403, 4.405-4.407, 4.415.  Any recipient of a motion has 15 days from the date of receipt to respond. 

Q26:  What happens if I believe documents with the Board should be protected from public disclosure?

A:   Any party submitting documents to the Board may designate material as information considered by the party to be protected from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act or otherwise exempt from by law from public disclosure. Any party may file a request with the Board to protect confidential material from public disclosure. See 43 C.F.R. § 4.31 for more information. 

Q27:  May I withdraw an appeal that I have filed with the Board?

A:   Yes.  You should file a written motion asking the Board to dismiss the appeal.  In the motion you must briefly state why the Board should dismiss the appeal.

Q28:  After I file an appeal, how long will it take for the Board to decide my case?

A:   The Board attempts to handle all cases in an expeditious manner.  Typically, cases are prioritized by the age of the case once the case file is complete.  Each case is unique and is given full consideration; delays can occur for various reasons, including the parties needing time to negotiate a settlement, the need for additional briefing, or if additional parties are added to a case.  Therefore, the timeframe from the time you file an appeal until a decision is issued by the Board varies.  Most cases are decided within two years.

 Q29:  May I ask the Board to reconsider its decision about my case?

A:   Yes.  If you wish to file a motion for reconsideration with the Board, then you must do so within 60 days after the date the Board issued its decision.  For further information on reconsiderations consult 43 C.F.R. § 4.403.

Q30:  May e-mail or contact the Administrative Judges who are involved in my case?

A: No.

Q31: Whom may I call if I have additional questions that have not been answered here?

A:   The Board’s direct phone line is:  703-235-3750.  While we aim to provide excellent customer service, Board staff cannot provide legal advice to anyone and will not discuss the particulars of any matter before the Board.  The Board cannot suggest the procedures you should follow, predict how the Board will rule on a matter, or discuss the law with you based on the specifics of your case.