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DSS Secretary Requests Details of Changes to BP Claims Process President Obama Announced in Last Night's Address to the Nation

In a letter to the National Incident Command, Department of Children & Family Services Secretary Kristy Nichols requested details on changes to the BP claims process announced by President Obama last night.

The text of the letter is below:

June 16, 2010

Tracy Wareing
National Incident Command
Integrated Services Team Lead

Ms. Wareing,

As you know, BP, in response to the Deepwater Horizon incident and as one of the Responsible Parties, has established a claims system to meet the needs of individuals, businesses and local governments impacted by the oil spill.

The State of Louisiana has challenged BP to make this system completely transparent to Louisiana officials on behalf of our citizens to ensure that claims are processed fairly, timely and in a manner that allows individuals, families and businesses to be compensated in full for their losses resulting from this disaster. The State has also requested that the National Incident Commander and the National Pollution Funds Center (NPFC) provide the claims oversight required to accomplish this.

In President Barack Obama's address to the nation from the Oval Office, the President indicated that he has directed the Chairman of BP to "set aside whatever resources are required to compensate workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company's recklessness." He noted that this fund will not be controlled by BP and also indicated that in order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent third party.

We are encouraged that the President's direction to BP will help people along the Gulf Coast receive the assistance they have been promised and will lead to an open and transparent process. However, we would like to better understand the details of the proposed strategies. Therefore, the State of Louisiana requests clarification as to:
  • how this independent claims process and fund will be established,
  • how much money is being requested for the fund,
  • how the independent claims process will operate in conjunction with or apart from the existing claims process and its third party administrator,
  • how the NPFC or other federal agencies will be utilized to administer and/or oversee the process,
  • expected improvements in the claims process, and
  • the State's level of transparency and participation in the system.
As we begin Day 57 of this disaster, and with almost half of those who have requested assistance yet to receive help, we must do all that we can to expedite the claims process. We appreciate your support and hard work toward the same goal and look forward to the information requested.

Kristy Nichols, Secretary
Louisiana Department of Social Services

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