Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs v. Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., 514 U.S. 122, 13 (1995)

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134

DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION PROGRAMS v. NEWPORT NEWS SHIPBUILDING & DRY DOCK CO.

Opinion of the Court

understand how a duty of uniform administration and enforcement by the Director (presumably arising out of the prohibition of arbitrary action reflected in 5 U. S. C. 706) hinges upon correct adjudication by someone else. The Director does not (and we think cannot) explain, for example, how an erroneous decision by the Board affects her ability to process the underlying claim, 919, provide information and assistance regarding coverage, compensation, and procedures, 939(c), enforce the final award, 921(d), or perform any other required task in a "uniform" manner.

If the correctness of adjudications were essential to the Director's performance of her assigned duties, Congress would presumably have done what it has done with many other agencies: made adjudication her responsibility. In fact, however, it has taken pains to remove adjudication from her realm. The LHWCA Amendments of 1972, 86 Stat. 1251, assigned administration to the Director, 33 U. S. C. 939(a); assigned initial adjudication to ALJ's, 919(d); and created the Board to consider appeals from ALJ decisions, 921. The assertion that proper adjudication is essential to proper performance of the Director's functions is quite simply contrary to the whole structure of the Act. To make an implausible argument even worse, the Director must acknowledge that her lack of control over the adjudicative process does not even deprive her of the power to resolve legal ambiguities in the statute. She retains the rulemaking power, see 939(a), which means that if her problem with the present decision of the Board is that it has established an erroneous rule of law, see Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837 (1984), she has full power to alter that rule. See Estate of Cowart v. Nicklos Drilling Co., 505 U. S. 469, 476 (1992) ("[T]he [Board] is not entitled to any special deference"). Her only possible complaint, then, is that she does not agree with the outcome of this particular case. The Director also claims that precluding her from seeking review of erroneous Board rulings "would reduce

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