I have on previous occasions referred to the fact that the Longshore Act is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor; specifically by the Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation within the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs.
The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) administers the Federal Employees, Longshore, Black Lung, and Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation programs.
There are significant changes underway in both OWCP and the Longshore Division with regard to Program management.
Shelby Hallmark, the long tenured Director of OWCP, has just retired. Gary Steinberg is currently the Acting Director, OWCP.
The Director of the Longshore Division, Mike Niss, has announced that he is retiring at the end of this month (February 2011).
The Longshore Division’s Chief, Branch of Policies and Procedures, Miranda Chiu, had announced that she was retiring effective at the end of March 2011, but she will stay on temporarily as Acting Director of the Longshore Division until a replacement for Mike Niss can be brought onboard.
And the Longshore Division’s Chief, Branch of Insurance, Financial Management, and Assessments, John Chamberlain, retired to private consulting at the end of calendar year 2010 and has been replaced by Brandon Miller.
So, the entire management staff at the Longshore Division’s National Office is changing, as well as the position of Director, OWCP.
For good measure, the Longshore District Director for the 13th Compensation District in Seattle, Karen Staats, has just retired. With a hiring freeze in effect for that position I’m not sure when a replacement will be named.
What all of this means for Program administration remains to be determined. We’ll wait and see if there are any abrupt or significant departures from previous administration policies.
Review of administration under the Longshore Act –
The Longshore Division offers administration and regulation, medical management, and dispute resolution services under the Longshore Act and its extensions. The personnel and locations for National Office and the district offices are available at dol.gov, then select Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs under Agencies, and DLHWC under OWCP.
If disputes cannot be resolved informally at the Longshore Division’s district office level, then referral is available to the Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ), for a formal hearing.
Appeals from Awards issued at the OALJ level are available to the Benefits Review Board within the Department of Labor.
Appeals from decisions of the Benefits Review Board are available to the various United States Circuit Courts of Appeals, and ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court.
I will keep you posted as events develop.