Senate panel to launch bipartisan inquiry into Social Security watchdog
The Senate Finance Committee is expected to launch a bipartisan probe into the Social Security Administration’s watchdog amid concerns over management issues.
The Washington Post reported that the investigation of the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration “is likely to concentrate on allegations of retaliation against whistleblowers, plummeting morale, staff attrition, hiring decisions and a declining number of investigations into fraud in the massive disability benefits program.”
Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden’s (D-Ore.) office didn’t immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on the report.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is an independent federal agency that has historically faced little congressional scrutiny.
Some Republicans in the House and Senate in recent years have proposed modifications or even the end of Social Security as it is known today as a main retirement program for millions of Americans.
The Office of the Inspector General didn’t immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.
According to the Post, SSA Inspector General Gail S. Ennis took part in a briefing earlier this month about the tumult inside the office.
“The committee has grown increasingly concerned about the performance of the Social Security Inspector General’s office over the past year, especially allegations of whistleblower retaliation,” Taylor Harvey, a spokesman for Wyden, said in an email to the Post. “Chairman Wyden will continue working to ensure the office is able to perform its critical watchdog role in the months ahead.”
According to the Post, a spokeswoman for Ennis’s office declined to comment on the record but wrote in an email that the number of investigations dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic but that the agency’s “investigative performance since then has returned to pre-pandemic levels.”
Acting Social Security Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi recently sent letters to governors across the country urging them beef up their states’ efforts on disability resources.
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