In 2004, Congress created the Office of the Ombudsman for the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program. Although it is within the U.S. Department of Labor, the Office of the Ombudsman is independent of the other officers and employees of the Department of Labor engaged in activities related to the administration of the provisions of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA).
The Office of the Ombudsman has three primary responsibilities:
- To provide information to claimants and potential claimants, and other interested parties on the benefits available under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act and on the requirements and procedures applicable to the provision of these benefits;
- To make recommendations to the Secretary of Labor on where to locate resource centers for the acceptance and development of claims; and
- To submit an annual report to Congress outlining the numbers and types of complaints, grievances, and requests for assistance received by the Ombudsman, and providing an assessment of the most common difficulties encountered by claimants and potential claimants during the year.
When it was created, the Office of the Ombudsman only had authority regarding claims filed under Part E of the EEOICPA; however, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 expanded the authority of the office to include Part B of the EEOICPA.
Part B of the EEOICPA compensates current or former employees (or their survivors) of the U.S. Department of Energy, its predecessor agencies, and certain of its vendors, contractors and subcontractors, who were diagnosed with a radiogenic cancer, chronic beryllium disease, beryllium sensitivity, or chronic silicosis as a result of exposure to radiation, beryllium, or silica while employed at covered facilities. The EEOICPA also provides compensation to individuals (or their eligible survivors) awarded benefits by the U.S. Department of Justice under Section 5 of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA).
Part E of the EEOICPA replaced the former Part D of the EEOICPA and compensates Department of Energy contractor/subcontractor employees, eligible survivors of such employees, and uranium miners, millers, and ore transporters as defined by RECA Section 5 for illnesses that are linked to toxic exposures in the Department of Energy or mining work environment.