WASHINGTON-- The Obama White House, yet to find a way to cap the BP oil spill gusher, moved ahead Wednesday on something they have more control over: pressuring BP to quickly pay claims made by Gulf Coast victims. Adm. Thad Allen, the overseer of the U.S. response to the man-made disaster, wrote BP's chief executive calling for more transparency, more information about how quickly claims are being paid and how the payments are being calculated. President Obama said BP should not "nickel and dime" people who lost their living because of the catastrophe.
June 8, 2010
Dr. Anthony Hayward
Group Chief Executive BP
1 St. James's Square London SW1Y 4PD United Kingdom
Dear Dr. Hayward:
The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill is having a devastating impact on the environment and the economy of the Gulf Coast states and their communities. As one of the responsible parties for this event, BP is accountable to the American public for the economic loss caused by the spill and related events. I recognize that you have accepted responsibility for the spill and that you are committed to paying all related expenses. At the same time, the Federal Government and our State partners need to ensure that all affected individuals, families, and businesses receive just and timely reimbursement for their economic damages. As you know, we asked to meet with your senior claims team and appreciate that we will sit down this Wednesday for an ongoing conversation. We need complete, ongoing transparency into BP's claims process including detailed information on how claims are being evaluated, how payment amounts are being calculated, and how quickly claims are being processed. To that end, I am directing that you provide the National Incident Command (NIC) and appropriate representatives of the State governments with information we need to meet our responsibilities to our citizens.
To date, BP has provided public statements on claims eligibility and summary data on claims processing. However, we need additional information to assess how well the process is meeting the critical needs of individuals, families, and businesses whose livelihoods are being impacted by the spill. The NIC and our State counterparts have made several requests for additional information which we have not received. Through the National Pollution Funds Center (NPFC), we requested access to the BP claims database with personally identifiable information removed (specific data and field requests attached). In order to be able to monitor the status of individual claims, this request includes unique identifiers like the claim number and last 4 digits of social security numbers to assist with monitoring amounts and timing of claims payments. Access to this level of detail is critical to informing the public as to how BP is meeting its obligations as a responsible corporation. I expect a response from BP on this critical issue as soon as possible.
At the June 9, 2010 meeting we plan to discuss ongoing concerns related to delayed processing time for large loss claims, claims pending with no action taken, payment calculations for individual loss of income claims (particularly for seasonal workers), translation of claims material, accessibility for the hearing impaired, and how BP will address claims resulting from the moratorium on drilling. Additionally, we would like more information about BP's plan for continuing to pay monthly loss of income claims, the mediation program BP is putting in place, and BP's placement of claims coordinators in each state and how these liaisons will engage with local officials.
I have appointed Tracy Wareing, Lead for the Integrated Services Team within the National Incident Command, to oversee the claims process and the provision of human services and economic assistance. Ms. Wareing will be joining me at the June 9, 2010 meeting. Please identify a senior official to work with Ms. Wareing as well as with senior representatives from the impacted States to provide increased visibility into the claims methodology and process.
The Federal Government and the public expects BP's claims process to fully address the needs of impacted individuals and businesses. We need more detail and openness from BP to fulfill our oversight responsibilities to the American people and ensure that you are meeting your commitment to restore the Gulf Coast. I appreciate your attention to this matter.
Admiral Thad Allen
National Incident Commander
cc: Secretary Janet Napolitano
Lamar McKay, Chairman and President, BP America
Darryl Willis, Claims Operations, BP