The Department of Justice has asked an outside firm to audit the handling of claims by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. While that was good news, I believe it was overdue. But in any event, it’s a good thing that the GCCF will finally be audited. U.S. Associate Attorney General Thomas Perelli wrote in a letter to officials with New York-based BDO Consulting that the concerns over the improper handling of claims documents, unnecessary delays in processing claims, and inconsistent payments for similarly-situated claimants by the GCCF will be looked into. The audit will be paid for by the Claims Facility and will be supervised by the Department of Justice. Local and federal officials have been asking for an audit for a long time.
U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, who asked Attorney General Eric Holder for such an audit this summer, had this to say:
For nearly a year and a half, thousands of coastal residents and business owners have struggled with a failed claims system that has arbitrarily awarded payments and subjected claimants to lengthy delays without explanation. All of these people deserve to know how Mr. Feinberg has been conducting his claims operations.
Ken Feinberg and the GCCF have been the subject of harsh criticism for many months by Gulf Coast residents, lawmakers and others unhappy with the handling of claims. For example, Rep. Bonner has questioned why less than 39 percent of claimants have received money from the GCCF — particularly since Feinberg says that only a fraction of claims are fraudulent. It’s hard to justify the GCCF going this long without being audited. As expected, Feinberg defended his handling of claims. Hopefully, this audit will cause claimants to receive better treatment from the GCCF. But the court system, without question, remains the best place for a claimant to be.
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