Democracy Dies in Darkness


Role of Social Security acting chief violated law after Nov. 17, president told

March 7, 2018 at 7:09 AM

Nancy A. Berryhill, acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration, had no authority to act in that post after Nov. 17, 2017, according to the Government Accountability Office. (Courtesy of the Social Security Administration/)

The Social Security Administration’s acting commissioner had no authority to act after mid-November because the agency is in violation of a federal law regarding vacant positions, according to a report to the president.

In a letter to President Trump Tuesday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said the Federal Vacancies Reform Act limits the time a position can be filled by an acting official.

“Specifically, we are reporting that the service of Nancy A. Berryhill as Acting Commissioner at SSA after November 17, 2017, is in violation of the Act,” the letter said.

“We have previously determined that using the acting title of a position during the period in which the position should be vacant violates the time limitations in the Vacancies Reform Act,” GAO wrote. “Therefore Ms. Berryhill was not authorized to continue serving using the title of Acting Commissioner after November 16.”

Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Social Security subcommittee, called on Trump to nominate a commissioner soon.

This just reinforces what we already know: Social Security has gone without a Senate-confirmed commissioner for far too long. This is simply unacceptable,” he said in a statement. “The president needs to nominate a Social Security commissioner now. The American people deserve nothing less.”

Read more:

Trump’s Social Security budget offers more work, less staff, longer waits

Columnist Joe Davidson covers federal government issues in the Federal Insider, formerly the Federal Diary. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with the Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.

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