Last week, we reported that Gulf spill paymaster Kenneth Feinberg was not yet meeting his goals for improving the BP claims process – particularly his pledge to issue payments within 48 hours to individuals who’ve documented their claims.
In an interview Tuesday with the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Feinberg said that he has not lived up to his targets and issued an unusually direct apology to those affected.
“Those critics who say Ken Feinberg raised our expectations and then is not living up to those expectations, they're absolutely right, and I owe them an apology," Feinberg said.
Feinberg’s words came on the same day that he told the Mobile Press-Register that the fund he oversees has 25 employees reviewing a total of about 1,000 claims per day. Though Feinberg said he hoped to increase this rate, the current pace would mean it would take more than a month to get through the roughly 35,000 emergency payment claims that are still pending.
Feinberg said many claims lack enough documentation for the fund to process them, but also acknowledged that his staff has fallen behind in managing the high volume of claims that have come in.
"I underestimated the time it takes to process that information. It's not as easy as I anticipated,” Feinberg told the Times-Picayune. “It's not just a claimant with an ax to grind. There are many, many claims where we have violated our own rule" of paying within 48 hours or seven days. "It's taking longer than I had hoped.”
We’ll continue to keep an eye on Feinberg’s timeline for processing claims. We’ve asked the fund if they’re still standing by the targets they set out: a preliminary review within 24 hours of a claims receipt, and then payments within 48 hours for personal claims that are found to be eligible and fully documented. We’ll keep you updated when we hear more.