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State Continues to Request Access to BP's Claims Database

Claims data provided to state by BP continues to contain errors, inconsistencies

Four days after BP promised to provide needed claims information to the state in a meeting with the Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services (DSS) and the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC), BP has yet to honor the agreement by providing any of the crucial data.

At the Friday meeting, BP agreed to provide a list of all large loss claimants, including amount of claims and number of days in the system, a data dictionary of BP's claims and answers to a list of specific questions about the claims processes. To date, BP has not provided the state with any of the agreed upon items.

Additionally, the overall goal of the state to have mirror image access to BP's claims database is still outstanding as BP would not agree on Friday to provide this necessary information.

"Having complete and substantial data is vital to determining how BP is making decisions about claim payments, assisting Louisiana citizens in properly making claims and filling in gaps where BP is not serving impacted citizens," said DSS Secretary Kristy Nichols. "BP is providing some information, but the state must know more in order to ensure that Louisianians are fairly compensated by BP for loss of income, property damage and other financial effects of the oil spill."

The state has requested that BP provide the mirror image access by noon on Wednesday, June 16.

Additionally, the state has requested that BP provide a list of all Louisiana citizens hired by BP and its contractors/subcontractors.

During the meeting, BP indicated that it is finalizing changes to its business claims process and will share that information with the state. Nichols, LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink and other state officials will also this week visit BP's claims center to observe operations there.

"The state is determined to ensure that BP is held accountable for their responsibilities to thousands of Louisianians who find themselves unable to work, support their families and meet financial obligations because of the events in the Gulf," said Nichols. "Accurate information and oversight of the claims process is key."

Meanwhile, analysis of a second set of claims data provided to the state by BP on June 7 reveals that the oil giant still falls short in providing information that the state needs in order to ensure meaningful compensation to those affected by the oil spill, investigate delays or denial of claims and possible duplication of payments, as well as help the state anticipate the needs of its citizens and to respond quickly and effectively.

"The second set of data the state received from BP is riddled with more errors and discrepancies than the first," said Nichols. "We can gather information that is anecdotal at best. For instance, we can determine when checks were sent out, but we are unable to determine if it is a first payment or a later payment or if the payment was made to a business, individual or owner operator."

Despite BP's promise to provide claims data to the state on a daily basis, the oil giant has only provided Louisiana with two such data sets since May 31. Additionally, many inconsistencies and outright errors exist in the data.

"For instance, one claimant is apparently 215 years old, according to the information BP has given us," said Nichols. "There are invalid Social Security numbers, zip codes that aren't in Louisiana, and 15 claimants with dates of birth that have not yet occurred."

The second set of data is also missing key indicators, including type of claim (loss of income, property damage, etc), originating parish or city of work, whether a payment is a first or second payment, name of the person or business receiving the payment and status of where the claim is in the BP process.

"The incomplete data reaffirms why the state needs another pair of eyes on this process," said Nichols. "We can't determine whether claims in this data set are valid, in process, pending documentation or in some other state of flux."

Analysis of the June 7 data provided by BP indicates that 49% of claims have not been paid. BP has made just 8,984 payments on 17,536 claims. More than 6,000 paid claims were more than one week old, more than 2,800 were more than three weeks old. The oldest unpaid claim was 38 days old. Additionally, only 21 payments were larger than $5,000; the highest payment was $15,000.

"These payments are clearly insufficient to compensate many businesses for their losses resulting from the spill," said Nichols. "Several businesses with unpaid claims have been forced to close and layoff employees. As claims are delayed, denied or appealed, it becomes even more important that the state be able to conduct independent quality assurance, anticipate individual and community needs, reach out to families in need and assess individuals and businesses for other services."

The data provided by BP reemphasizes the importance of Friday's ruling by 25th Judicial District Judge Joy C. Lobrano granting the state's Petition for Discovery and Investigation filed June 4, 2010, by the State Attorney General. The court order requires BP to produce claims data that DSS and the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) have repeatedly requested.

"It is vital that the state see the same information that BP sees," said Nichols. "So far, BP has only provided us with summary information or Excel spreadsheets that provide conflicting and incomplete information."