[Excerpt] Public Law 108-375 which was enacted in 2004 also established the Office of the Ombudsman (the Office). While the Office is established within DOL, the Secretary of Labor is to ensure the independence of the Office within DOL, including independence from other officers and employees of the Department engaged in activities related to the administration of the provisions of EEOICPA. See 42 U.S.C. § 7385s-15(d).
As set forth in Public Law 108-375, the Office was scheduled to sunset on October 28, 2007. However, on October 22, 2007, former Secretary of Labor Elaine S. Chao issued a Memorandum determining that, in the event that the statutory requirement expired, DOL should continue to have an Office of the Ombudsman. This Memorandum took effect on October 28, 2007. Thereafter, on January 28, 2008, Section 3116 of the FY08 Defense Authorization Act, Public Law 110-118 reinstated the statutory requirement for the Office by extending the sunset date until October 28, 2012. On October 28, 2012, former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis signed a Memorandum continuing the Office under the authority of the previous Memorandum signed on October 22, 2007. Recently, on December 19, 2014, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015, Public Law 113-291 extended the sunset date of the Office until October 28, 2019.
The statute outlines three (3) specific duties for the Office:
- Provide information to claimants and potential claimants about the benefits available under Part B and Part E, and on the requirements and procedures applicable to the provision of such benefits.
- Make recommendations to the Secretary regarding the location of resource centers for the acceptance and development of claims under Part B and Part E.
- Carry out such other duties as the Secretary specifies. See 42 U.S.C. §7385s-15(c).
The statute also requires the Office to submit an annual report to Congress setting forth:
- The number and types of complaints, grievances, and requests for assistance received by the Office during the preceding year.
- An assessment of the most common difficulties encountered by claimants and potential claimants uring the preceding year.