[Excerpt] The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) was passed by Congress in 2000, and amended in 2004, to compensate American workers who put their health on the line to help fight the Cold War. In the course of doing their jobs, many of these workers were exposed to radiation and other toxic substances and, as a result, developed cancer and other serious diseases. The purpose of this program is to acknowledge the sacrifice of these workers and to compensate them in some small way for their suffering and loss.
As originally enacted in 2000, EEOICPA included Part B (administered by the Department of Labor (DOL)) and Part D (administered by the Department of Energy (DOE)). In October 2004, Congress repealed Part D and enacted Part E of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, effectively transferring responsibility for administration of contractor employee compensation from the DOE to the DOL. The 2004 amendments also created the Office of the Ombudsman for Part E and directed that it be an independent office, located within the Department of Labor, charged with a three-fold mission:
- To conduct outreach to claimants and potential claimants to provide information on the benefits available under this part and on the requirements and procedures applicable to the provision of such benefits;
- To make recommendations to the Secretary of Labor about where to locate resource centers for the acceptance and development of claims;
- To submit an Annual Report to Congress by February 15, setting forth the number and types of complaints, grievances and requests for assistance received by the Ombudsman, and an assessment of the most common difficulties encountered by claimants and potential claimants under Part E during the previous year.