O’Malley, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, was approved by a vote of 50 to 11. A handful of Republicans joined Democrats in voting for O’Malley as the agency’s commissioner after he earned a reputation as a technocrat, in part, by focusing on measuring government performance.
Former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, seen at an Iowa town hall during his bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, was confirmed by the Senate on Monday to head the Social Security Administration. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The Senate on Monday confirmed former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley to lead the Social Security Administration as the agency faces looming questions about its long-term solvency, systemic dysfunction and ability to handle day-to-day customer service requests.
O’Malley’s confirmation also comes as Democrats and Republicans debate how to handle the solvency of the agency, which is tasked with paying more than $1 trillion in benefits to millions of seniors and Americans with disabilities. As part of a series on dysfunction at the agency, The Washington Post revealed that an anti-fraud program led by the agency’s inspector general levied unprecedented fines on the poor and disabled.
The SSA was slow to recover from pandemic slowdowns, reopening its local field offices to the public significantly later than most local and state government operations that serve the public opened theirs.
Lawmakers also cited data showing that more than 1 million Americans are still waiting for initial decisions on disability benefits that now take an average of 220 days, agency data show. That is almost double the processing time in 2019 and far above the 60 days Social Security itself defines as its minimum level of performance.