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There is no reliable, independent way that unit supervisors-who oversee several claims examiners-know which workers are working well, which are goofing off, which are overloaded with problem cases. When a claim comes into the office, it is assigned directly to a claims examiner based on the last two digits of the claim number. The claims examiner fills out a green and a white card, indicating the date of receipt.

The green card is attached to the file; the white card is placed on the claims examiner's desk. Ostensibly, if the claim is not resolved within 90 days, the examiner brings the white card to the supervisor, who has 60 days to resolve the matter before bringing it to the next higher supervisory level. Thus, claims should be resolved, or in the hands of a senior supervisor, within 5 months. This is obviously not the case, from the examples I have cited.

It was suggested to district and region officials that if one additional card were filled out by the claims examiner-perhaps a blue card-and given to the supervisor when the case file first comes in, the unit supervisor would have a complete and accurate reference on the cases each of his claims examiners is working on. When the case is cleared, the claims examiner could simply hand the white card to the supervisor, who could tear up both the white and blue cards. A very simple change, with minimum paperwork and maximum accountability-but so novel that the officials to whom the idea was presented were puzzled.

These same officials tell tales of woe about the lack of cooperation from the Postal Service in mail handling and distribution. They claim many delays result because of the way the Postal Service forces District 25 to process mail not only for itself but for the District 40 and national offices as well. This excuse sounds like the old deadbeat's story: "The check is in the mail, but you know how the post office is . . . "I have had no such post office complaint with any other agency.

In one recent instance, a constituent urgently in need of compenstion funds, almost out of food and about to lose his home, had the foresight to mail materials which had been requested via certified mail, return receipt requested. My initial inquiry to district 25 met with the response that no payment could be made because the claimant had not sent in the required forms.

When confronted with the fact that a receipt signed by one of the district's employees proved otherwise, the office suggested that there had not been time to associate the material with the constituent's file.

When advised that the receipt proved the material had been delivered almost 3 weeks before, the district office abruptly decided it had lost the materials. Of course, despite the constituent's full compliance with the office's request, no payment could be made until a new set of documents was received. Fortunately, my constituent had kept copies of everything. At the district office's direction, he and his wife hand-carried the forms from Baltimore to suburban Virginia last Thursday, based on the promise to me that if that were done, he would have a check to carry home. When the couple arrived, they were told it was "too late" to issue a checkthat one might be issued by July 15. That is 3 or 4 weeks from now.

It was necessary for my office to threaten to call an Assistant Secretary of Labor before the Department agreed to prepare a special check. In comparison it took only 3 hours to arrange with the local Social Services Department for emergency food assistance and a small amount of cash to tide the couple over. They have been told they can pick up their compensation check today. Mr. Chairman, I should hate to have my life depend on its being ready today.

I have heard disturbing reports about the competence and reliability of employees in the district 25 office. My constituents and my staff have reported abrupt if not rude treatment over the telephone.

It has been suggested that many of those who are now claims examiners were improperly promoted and that of a dozen claims examiners, no more than four or five are truly qualified for the work they perform. I have been told that overtime was discontinued at district 25 because employees abused it-either slacking off during the day to generate more overtime, or goofing off at night and getting no work done at time-and-a-half rates. Yet I am advised that department officials claim it is "nearly impossible, would take an act of Congress" to dismiss any of these incompetent employees. It is even suggested that union officials block the dismissal of any employees, no matter how derelict in their duties.

If all this can be blamed on the union, why isn't service this bad with other Government agencies whose employees are served by the same union? I suggest it is primarily bad management.

There have been some glimmers of hope. The department is attempting to implement a computer system for keeping tabs on cases' whereabouts. The system is supposedly succeeding in Jacksonville, Fla., but I am told it was a complete failure in New York.

Obviously, the computer program does not change from one instance to the other. It is suggested that employees somehow emotionally influence the computer-by willing or not willing that the system work. It sounds more to me, Mr. Chairman, like employee sabotage or incompetence. Electronic circuitry is not influenced by emotion.

The information I have presented shows that there are serious day-to-day operations problems with the Federal workers' compensation program. Union officials who represent other Federal employees are becoming increasingly aware of and distressed by the Office of Workers' Compensation's poor performance.

One wrote me:

We are currently having trouble in the area of Federal Employees' Compensation. After a careful check, we find that the trouble lies at the Bureau of Employee Compensation. They are always losing papers and trying to put the blame on the employee's installation. It's a shame we have to turn to our Congressmen and Senators to get some action for the injured employee and his family.

This man is right. It is cruel that claims go unresolved for 3, 4, 5 years. Imagine poor people trying desperately to get by, haunting the mailbox daily for 3 or 4 or 5 years. This is not just inefficiencythis is cruelty-that files cannot be located; that payments even after claims are approved take up to 7 months; that simple inquiries take 8 and 10 months to answer; that claimants cannot get information they urgently need or money to feed their families.

I thank the subcommittee, and you, Mr. Chairman, on behalf of my constituents, for undertaking oversight activities in regard to this program. I hope the information that I have provided today will be helpful. I stand ready to provide additional details and to answer any questions.

Mr. GAYDOS. Congressman Long, I think your statement is most significant and is quite comprehensive. On behalf of the committee, I really appreciate your appearance particularly knowing the limitation of your time.

Some of the cases you have indicated with a first initial. Could they be available if we really needed them?

Mr. LONG. I believe they can be. I shall have to request it of the people who have contacted me. I am sure it can be worked out some


Mr. GAYDOS. We are trying to put a case together, and, for your information, there will be employees and employers and supervisors called in before this committee. Whether they come voluntarily or by subpoena, it makes no difference to me. They will be here. I want you to know we really appreciate your delving into the heart of the problem. I can understand the frustration because a Congressional office is supposed to be of service to people. When you cannot get responses in a reasonable time, I think it is frustrating.

Mr. Buchanan.

Mr. BUCHANAN. Mr. Long, this is shocking testimony. It is a public service for you to bring it to the subcommittee's attention. Do you have complaints pertaining to the employing agencies? We have had some testimony that a good deal of the problem was in the attitudes of employing agencies.

Mr. LONG. Not really. All our problems are really basically with the Department of Labor. I have never encountered anything like this in my entire experience with Government. In the local unemployment office we had a lot of trouble for a while, and I simply sent somebody down there who goes there each day with one or more cases and stays there each day until the cases are settled. That system has produced marvelous results, but of course you can't do that in the case of a Washington agency.

Mr. BUCHANAN. Yes. I want to join the chairman in thanking you for bringing this to our attention.

Mr. GAYDOS. The committee will recess these hearings on this subject matter until the call of the Chair.

[Whereupon, at 10:20 a.m., the subcommittee adjourned sine die.]


Part 1

MONDAY, JULY 18, 1977



Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to recess, at 9:00 a.m., in room 2261, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Joseph M. Gaydos (chairman of the subcommittee), presiding.

Members present: Representatives Gaydos and Le Fante. Staff present: Paul F. Dwyer, counsel; Marsha A. Gray, staff assistant; and James M. Stephens, assistant minority counsel. Mr. GAYDOS. The Subcommittee on Compensation, Health and Safety will be in order.

This is a continuation of the hearings of this subcommittee. Since Mr. McCart is not available until later, the Chair would like to prevail upon the next witness, Mr. Emily, Chief, Health Resource Development Staff, Tennessee Valley Authority, Chattanooga, Tenn., if he would not mind testifying now.


Mr. EMILY. I have with me Mr. Chris Eckl, from our Washington office.

Mr. GAYDOS. Let the record show M. Ch istopher Eckl, Assistant Washington Representative for the Tennessee Valley Authority, is also going to testify.

Gentlemen, thank you for your accommodation to the committee. You may proceed in a manner you deem best.

Mr. EMILY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[Mr. Emily proceeded to read his entire prepared statement.]


Testimony before the House Subcommittee on Compensation, Health and Safety
Presented by Elmo E. Emily, Chief, Health Resource Development Staff, TVA

July 18, 1977

Mr. Chairman, I am honored to appear before your Committee to report on TVA's
Rehabilitation Services and Workers' Compensation Assistance.

I have a brief prepared statement that, with your concurrence, I will be glad to present.

In 1972, TVA initiated a strengthened rehabilitation program in response to the
fact that increasingly large numbers of former employees were being lost from the
work force following maximum recovery from job-related injuries and illnesses.
These recovered employees, who are no longer able to do all of the work required
by their former jobs but are able to do either their former jobs with limitations
or other jobs, are too often ending up on the periodic payroll of the Office of
Workers' Compensation Programs instead of in the productive work force.
Each year
approximately 115 new TVA cases are added to this automatic compensation payroll.
Only a small percentage of these individuals are totally disabled and many of them
could be returned to the productive work force if jobs could be found within the
range of their abilities.

If this objective could be attained, three types of loss could be prevented:




Individuals who could lead productive and satisfying lives would not become dependents and invalids.

TVA would not lose these trained and experienced employees, many of whom could continue to be assets to TVA, the Nation, and their communities.

It would avoid unnecessary additions to TVA's injury compensation costs, which were more than 13 million dollars for fiscal year 1976 and which have been rising sharply for the past 8 years.

During fiscal year 1976, TVA employees filed 3,145 new compensation claims. As
usually happens in the normal course of events, the vast majority of these indivi-
duals recovered satisfactorily and returned to work in their former jobs. For some,
it was necessary to assign and apply work restrictions to protect themselves and
their fellow workers. For 378 others who could not return to their former jobs,
rehabilitation counseling and job placement assistance were undertaken. The se
special efforts resulted in the return to work of an additional 140 employees.
we believe that well over half of these 140 would not have gone back to work without
the assistance provided through this program.


Thus we made notable progress in achieving the objective of our rehabilitation program: To expedite and facilitate maximum recovery of workers who have incurred job-related injuries or illnesses and return them to work in suitable jobs.

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