[Excerpt] Public Law 108-375 not only repealed Part D and established Part E it also created the Office of the Ombudsman (the Office). Pursuant to this law, the Secretary of Labor (the Secretary) is to ensure the independence of the Office within DOL, including independence from other officers and employees of DOL engaged in activities related to the administration of EEOICPA.
Public Law 108-375 also contained an express sunset date, terminating the requirements for the Office on October 28, 2007. On October 22, 2007, shortly before the effective date of the sunset provision, former Secretary of Labor Elaine 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 110-181, effectively reinstated the statutory requirement for the Office by extending the sunset date until October 28, 2012. On October 24, 2012, shortly before the sunset date of 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.
EEOICPA outlines three specific duties for the Office:
- Provide information 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; and
- Carry out such other duties as the Secretary specifies.
See 42 U.S.C. §7385s-15(c).
In addition to these three specific duties, EEOICPA 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, and
- An assessment of the most common difficulties encountered by claimants and potential claimants during the preceding year.