[Excerpt] Public Law 108-375 not only repealed Part D and established Part E it also created the Office of the Ombudsman (the Office). The law urged the Secretary 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 the provisions of EEOICPA.
Public Law 108-375 also contained an express sunset date, terminating the requirement for the Office on October 28, 2007. On October 22, 2007, shortly before the sunset provision was to take effect, former Secretary Chao issued a Memorandum determining that the Department of Labor should continue to have an Office of the Ombudsman in the event that the statutory requirement expired. This Memorandum took effect on October 28, 2007. Subsequently, 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 October 28, 2012 sunset date, former Secretary Solis signed a Memorandum continuing the Office under the authority of the previous Memorandum signed on October 22, 2007.
EEOICPA outlines three 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 E; and
- Carry out such other duties as the Secretary specifies.
See 42 U.S.C. §7385s-15(c).
In addition, 42 U.S.C. §7385s-15(e) 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.