Senate Confirms Former Maryland Governor as SSA Commissioner -

On a 50-11 vote, the U.S. Senate yesterday ended the two-year absence of a permanent Social Security Administration leader. Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will assume the position of Commissioner for the agency, replacing acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi and taking responsibility for navigating the substantial problems facing the agency on several fronts.

A post by Gov Exec senior correspondent Erich Wagner covering the Senate vote provides background on O’Malley’s appointment, including an assessment by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) outlining the appointee’s qualifications and challenges. “He’s going to have two sets of people in mind as commissioner,” suggests Cardin, explaining that O’Malley’s focus is expected to be on the folks dependent on Social Security as well as the folks who provide the services to the public–the SSA workforce. Regarding the former, the agency has come under fire as a result of problems like long telephone wait times, dropped calls, and incomplete or inaccurate responses to constituent questions. On the workforce issues, O’Malley’s attention will need to focus on staffing issues and low employee morale problems cited by the American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing the SSA workforce. Check out Mr. Wagner’s post here.

O’Malley Takes the helm amid intense Congressional scrutiny related to the overpayment problem–the SSA’s attempts to recover erroneous payments–and the mounting concerns over Social Security’s long-term insolvency projections. Suffice it to say that there is considerable whitewater ahead as the new Commissioner sets out to right the SSA ship.

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