I had posted earlier today on Social Security's notice seeking a contractor to handle representative payee reviews. I received this e-mail in response:
Dear Mr. Hall,We read your blog post Contractor Sought To Handle Representative Payee Reviews and agree with your assessment.In 2009, the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) and our members, the Protection and Advocacy System (P&A), became involved with representative payee reviews following the discovery of horrific abuse and neglect of thirty-two men with disabilities by Henry's Turnkey Service, an organizational representative payee in Iowa who also employed the beneficiaries.Following the discovery of the abuse and financial exploitation by Henry's, SSA moved very quickly to determine whether other organizational payees were employing and exploiting the beneficiaries they were appointed to serve. As part of this effort, SSA turned to NDRN and the P&A agencies to conduct reviews of organizational representative payees who also employ beneficiaries.They chose us because P&A agencies are a nationwide network of legal services agencies who provide services specifically to people with disabilities. Our mission is to advocate for and protect the basic rights of individuals with a wide range of disabilities. The services that P&A agencies are created to provide squarely positioned us to carry out SSA s representative payee reviews and we have been awarded the reviews every year since 2009.Unfortunately, SSA's recent announcement that the Representative Payee monitoring project going forward would only be performed by a small business forecloses the ability of the NDRN and the P&A agencies from competing to perform this work in the future because NDRN is a nonprofit organization and cannot compete for a small business set aside contract.SSA has already spent extensive resources to clear 261 P&A monitors in every state, the District of Columbia and the Native American P&A. P&A agencies have done 3,415 reviews which included interviews with 15,974 beneficiaries. It is baffling to us why now they would choose to exclude us in favor of an untested small business who may have no experience working with the disability population. Beneficiaries are all across the country and sometimes in different states than their representative payee. Is a small business going to be a capable monitor in this nationwide environment?
Your observation that this is the sort of thing best done by experienced personnel who are located in the communities where the representative payees live is exactly correct. And being a nationwide network of disability advocates, we are those experienced personnel who have been doing it with great success.Of the reviews that have already taken place, 84% of the NDRN and P&A identified reviews discovered problems, while only 65% of the other SSA initiated reviews found problems. This is a clear indication to us that our knowledge and expertise on disability related issues are necessary for the representative payee project to be successful in protecting beneficiaries.
Excluding NDRN from applying for this contract would be a grave disservice to an already vulnerable population.Please feel free to use any or all parts of this letter on your blog.Sincerely,Curt DeckerExecutive DirectorNational Disability Rights Network