Tags: Barack Obama | social security | computers | whistleblower | Carolyn Colvin

GOP Moves to Block Soc. Security Nominee Over $300M Computer Debacle

Image: GOP Moves to Block Soc. Security Nominee Over $300M Computer Debacle
Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration Carolyn Colvin. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 04 Dec 2014 09:34 AM

All 11 Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee signed a letter Wednesday to Carolyn Colvin, President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Social Security Administration, saying they want answers to allegations that Social Security officials may have misled Congress about a $300 million computer system, according to The Washington Post.

The senators will block Colvin’s nomination to the position until they get to the bottom of whistleblower reports that the pricey new system for processing disability claims, which took six years to develop, still does not work.

"We cannot in good faith allow a nomination for any position that requires the advice and consent of the Senate to proceed to a vote as long as the specter of a potential criminal investigation surrounds the nominee and/or those in their inner circle," the letter states.

"Therefore, it is essential to address your role with respect to this inquiry before each of us can make an informed decision on how to vote for your nomination once it reaches the full Senate for consideration."

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah is the ranking Republican on the committee, which in September voted 22-2 to advance Colvin’s nomination. She is currently the acting Social Security commissioner, Bloomberg reports.

The senators’ letter references a November news release from a House subcommittee about an interim inspector general report that "raised the possibility" of a criminal investigation into the matter, according to The Baltimore Sun.

"We have received information from whistleblowers that the ongoing investigation has centered around the activities of certain members of your immediate office, including several high-level agency officials," the senators wrote.

"Therefore, it is essential to address your role with respect to this inquiry before each of us can make an informed decision on how to vote for your nomination once it reaches the full Senate for consideration."

The system was implemented on the watch of former Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael Astrue, according to the Sun, and Colvin launched a "thorough investigation" when she moved into the position.

According to the Associated Press, an unidentified senior Democratic aide agreed that Colvin's confirmation should be delayed until she answers questions about the project.

"I think all senators will want to see her responses before acting on that nomination," said Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat. "As for the underlying investigation, I won't comment until the process runs its full course and the facts are known.

"It's critical that our tax dollars are spent properly, which is why the questions need answers and there's an understanding of what happened and why."

Consulting firm McKinsey & Co. reviewed the project and determined that there had been "mismanagement in the planning and development" of the computer system, according to Bloomberg.

The senators have asked Colvin to respond to 13 questions by Dec. 8, including whether she ever directed an employee to withhold the McKinsey report’s findings.

The Social Security Administration More employs some 60,000 people who work in 1,400 offices across the country.

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Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee are threatening to block confirmation of Carolyn Colvin, President Obama's nominee to head the Social Security Administration, unless she provides answers to allegations that SSA officials misled Congress about a $300 million computer system.
social security, computers, whistleblower, Carolyn Colvin
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2014-34-04
Thursday, 04 Dec 2014 09:34 AM
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