911 Health Watch Statement on Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya leaving the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund
Today, the U.S Department of Justice announced that September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya will be leaving the Department to take a position with Georgetown University Law School’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection.
Benjamin Chevat, Executive Director of 9/11 Health Watch said, “9/11 Health Watch wants to thank Special Master Bhattacharyya for the outstanding work she, along with her team, have done since her appointment in July 2016 by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
During her tenure as Special Master, Ms. Bhattacharyya, a career Department employee, greatly improved the administration of the VCF. Her many accomplishments include reducing the time to process a claim from an average of 3-4 years in 2017, to less than 12 months now. In addition, in the past 5 years of her leadership, nearly 40,000 claims have been processed, totaling over $8 billion in awards.
Special Master Bhattacharyya and her team have managed several challenges during her tenure, including a funding shortage that led to the temporary reduction of awards.
With the passage of the 2019 “the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act” that fully funded the VCF and extended its authorization until 2090, the Special Master and her team embarked on a transformation effort to enhance claimant service, further reduce the time it takes to process claims, and provide enhanced oversight and fraud prevention over the lifetime of the VCF.
We are sorry to see the Special Master leave the VCF but wish her well and thank her for her work and efforts to improve the management of the VCF on behalf of injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors.
We urge Attorney General Garland to appoint a new career civil servant as Special Master, with the same level of skill and commitment as Ms. Bhattacharyya, and ensure the Department works with the new Special Master to complete the VCF transformation effort.