There is established in the Department of Labor an office to be known as the "Office of the Ombudsman" (in this section referred to as the "Office").
The head of the Office shall be the Ombudsman. The individual serving as Ombudsman shall be either of the following:
(1) An officer or employee of the Department of Labor designated by the Secretary for purposes of this section from among officers and employees of the Department who have experience and expertise necessary to carry out the duties of the Office specified in subsection (c).
(2) An individual employed by the Secretary from the private sector from among individuals in the private sector who have experience and expertise necessary to carry out the duties of the Office specified in subsection (c).
The duties of the Office shall be as follows:
(1) To provide information on the benefits available under this part and on the requirements and procedures applicable to the provision of such benefits.
(2) To make recommendations to the Secretary regarding the location of centers (to be known as "resource centers") for the acceptance and development of claims for benefits under this part.
(3) To carry out such other duties with respect to this part as the Secretary shall specify for purposes of this section.
(D) Independent Office
The Secretary shall take appropriate actions to ensure the independence of the Office within the Department of Labor, including independence from other officers and employees of the Department engaged in activities relating to the administration of the provisions of this part.
(E) Annual Report
(1) Not later than July 30 each year, the Ombudsman shall submit to Congress a report on activities under this part and part B.
(2) Each report under paragraph (1) shall set forth the following:
(a) The number and types of complaints, grievances, and requests for assistance received by the Ombudsman under this part during the preceding year.
(b) An assessment of the most common difficulties encountered by claimants and potential claimants under this part during the preceding year.
(3) The first report under paragraph (1) shall be the report submitted in 2006.
The Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall each undertake outreach to advise the public of the existence and duties of the Office.
Effective October 28, 2019, this section shall have no further force or effect.
Pub. L. 106-398, Title XXXVI, § 3686, as added by Pub. L. 108-375, § 3161; Pub. L. 110-181, § 3116