Nov 19, 2014

I Don't Like This Press Release

     From a press release issued by the Republican majority on the House Ways and Means Committee: 
Last week, Social Security Administration (SSA) Inspector General (IG) Patrick P. O’Carroll, Jr., released a further response to the June 2014 letter sent by Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX), requesting a full and immediate investigation into the SSA’s mismanagement and failed implementation of the $300 million Disability Case Processing System (DCPS) ... Chairman Johnson issued the following statement:
“The news is not good for taxpayers based on reports received so far regarding Social Security’s failed implementation of a new disability case processing system. After spending close to $300 million, with efforts led by a team of multiple leaders using 46 vendors, Social Security spent almost $800,000 of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to pay an independent contractor to tell them they should have had one person in charge of the project. Worse, no one was fired and taxpayers will not get any of their misspent money back. It also raised questions about Social Security’s lack of transparency and more troubling efforts to possibly conceal information from the IG. Going forward, I will continue to hold the Commissioner fully accountable as she takes steps to right this wrong for taxpayers.”
Results of a criminal investigation regarding the implementation of DCPS are still pending.
     Criminal investigation? Give me a break. Read the actual IG report rather than just the press release. Nothing like that is suggested. Everybody knew that development and implementation of DCPS was going to be extraordinarily difficult since what it is replacing is a highly fragmented mess that developed over decades. Realistically, could DCPS have been managed better? Can it be better managed now? Maybe. I don't know. It's always easy to look back with 20/20 hindsight and say that mistakes were made along the way. That doesn't mean that the people who made those mistakes are fools or knaves. They just did the best they could under the circumstances. The idea that there is anything criminal seems absurd on its face. The IG report suggests nothing like that.
     Would DCPS have happened differently had John McCain or Mitt Romney been elected President? Probably not. Would this press release have been issued if there was a Republican president? Of course, not. The public isn't paying attention to DCPS. There's nothing here or likely to come out that would create any political advantage to either party.
     Can't we just get on with governing? Can't Republicans in Congress just do ordinary oversight (and ordinary second guessing) without this sort of press release? This sort of thing can't be good for day to day working relationships between Committee members, their staffs and Social Security officials.


Anonymous said...

Don't be too hard on Congressman Johnson and his pals. They are required to squawk about government waste, cutting benefits for the poor, or lowering taxes at least 3 times a week or they might lose most favored donee status with the tea party types, and that would just not do. With that kind of pressure, you can't blame them for taking a bit of poetic license with documents like the IG Report.

Anonymous said...

I notice a couple of things here. First, Johnson is trying to place blame on Carolyn Colvin. She nay not be blameless but no mention of Astrue on whose watch this began Second, he seems to want to place the entire blame on SSA. No mention of responsibility for the primary contractor. But the primary contractor is Lockheed Martin so I guess it's easier to berate a civil servant than take on one of the nation's largest defense contractors.