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President Donald Trump’s aces to run the Social Aegis Administering says he’ll booty a top-to-bottom attending at the agency’s five-year IT accession plan, and will reexamine its growing affliction backlog.
Andrew Saul, the administration’s appointee for Social Aegis commissioner, told assembly at his acceptance audition Tuesday that, if confirmed, he’d await on his above-mentioned acquaintance as administrator of Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.
He added that his time on the board, which manages the Thrift Savings Plan, is the allotment of his resume he’s best appreciative of.
“When I took over as chairman, the systems of the lath were in bad shape,” Saul said. “I formed adamantine to advance the lath to advance its systems and technologies and to restructure the controlling agents and cadre functions.”
The Social Aegis Administering hasn’t had a abiding abettor in added than bristles years, and is one of the longest vacancies for the arch of a above agency.
Senate Finance Board baronial affiliate Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said it’s one of the best important posts in the federal government.
“Without a accepted leader, the bureau cannot actualize and assassinate a abiding eyes of how to advance the program,” Wyden said.
An acting director, Wyden added, cannot appoint able bodies from alfresco the bureau into Senior Controlling Account (SES) positions, such as the being who would be in allegation of IT security, or the arch of the agency’s added than 1,200 acreage offices.
“Our country deserves the best talent, and this barrier needs to be removed,” he said.
Committee Administrator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said the bureau needs abiding administering to accumulate IT accession on time and on budget.
“In the not-distant past, SSA about ashen hundreds of millions of dollars on projects that went nowhere,” Hatch said. “Toward the end of the Obama administration, some new approaches were tried, and those trials abide to this day. It charcoal to be apparent if they will prove to be successful.”
A few years ago, SSA approved to cycle out a new Affliction Case Processing Arrangement (DCPS), but ultimately scrapped its aboriginal attack afterwards spending added than $350 million.
Last week, SSA’s Chief Information Officer Rajive Mathur, forth with the agency’s ambassador general, told associates of the House Ways and Means Board that the bureau has had added success with the additional barrage of the DCPS system.
Saul told Hatch that he’ll accouterment SSA’s bequest IT aloof like he helped check the technology at the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.
“I affiliated a absolutely bootless arrangement that basically was not anatomic at the time I took over as chairman,” he said. “We had above lawsuits and we had to apple-pie up a bootless arrangement with over $100 actor accident to the taxpayers with annihilation to show. So I am acquainted of what can go wrong in a big government bureau if these systems are not able-bodied anticipation out.”
One goal, Saul said, is to analysis SSA’s bristles year IT accession plan. The bureau is already a year into that plan.
“One of my primary tasks in the first, let’s alarm it six months or a year, will be to sit bottomward and analysis the accession plan that’s in abode at the Social Aegis Administering from top-to-bottom. I appetite to be abiding that what we’re accomplishing is activity to assignment for the present and for the future, in the interests of the beneficiaries.”
The Social Aegis Administering charge additionally accost a growing affliction claims backlog.
Right now, added than a actor bodies abide ashore in the backlog, and on average, they accept to delay for best than a year to get a affliction hearing.
Wyden said continued waits are common-place at acreage offices in Oregon.
“On the backlog, the antecedent two commissioners promised to fix the problem, and it hasn’t been fixed,” he said. “So what are you activity to do abnormally to absolutely fix it so we won’t we see what I saw aloof a brace of weeks ago aback I visited a acreage office?”
Saul told Wyden he’ll investigate the botheration on the arena — in Oregon and beyond.
“I accept that the acreage appointment is area the elastic meets the road,” he said. “When you allocution about account to the beneficiaries, there’s annihilation added important than the claimed acquaintance in these 1,200-plus acreage offices advance throughout our nation. So I will, cardinal one, not alone get out to Oregon, but into abounding locations about the country, because afore you apperceive what you can do, I accept I’m activity to accept to absolutely get out and see what the problems are.”
However, Saul told Wyden that he couldn’t affiance to not aing any acreage offices until he bigger accepted the situation.
“I can affiance you, senator, that I will go out there and afore any decisions are fabricated in any of the acreage offices, I will accept what the altitude are there in that locale,” he said. “Nothing will be done afterwards my OK.”
Lawmakers additionally dug into added genitalia of Saul’s resume — specifically, his time as a trustee of the Manhattan Institute, a bourgeois anticipate catchbasin that accurate Admiral George W. Bush’s proposed plan to privatize Social Security.
Saul said that’s a action accommodation he wouldn’t get to accomplish as SSA commissioner.
“My job, if I’m accepted as commissioner, is to bear casework to the beneficiary. I accept article like privatization should be larboard for the Treasury Department and for the aldermanic branch,” Saul said. “I’m the administrator of the agency, and that’s what I will address my time to.”
Alex Lawson, the controlling administrator of the advancement nonprofit accumulation Social Aegis Works, said in a account that Saul is “utterly amateur for the position” of SSA commissioner.
“He has no accomplishments in Social Aegis whatsoever,” Lawson said.
In accession to his affiance to accumulate backroom out of the agency, Saul accustomed his absolute accord with federal unions aback back he ran the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.
“When Admiral Bush’s appellation was over, I was actual appreciative that all 14 federal unions had accounting a letter to Admiral Obama and Sen. [Chuck] Schumer (D-N.Y.) requesting that I abide as chairman.”
The Trump administering nominated Saul to complete the appellation of his predecessor, which ends in January 2019. But the admiral has additionally nominated him to serve a abounding six-year appellation that would end in 2025.
Hatch, who’s backward at the end of this year, assured Saul the board would go through acceptance hearings afresh aboriginal aing year.
“Once again, to be clear, the affair is Senate action and precedent,” Hatch said. “The affair is not whether you would be able to serve as Social Aegis abettor for both the continuance of this appellation and aing appellation as well.”
Wyden, who has a attempt at acceptable the aing administrator of the board afterwards the midterm elections, said he would ensure Saul’s choice takes antecedence in the aing Congress.
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