July 15,2019

Grassley on the Swearing-In for Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security

Prepared Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee
Swearing-In Ceremony for the Honorable Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security
Monday, July 15, 2019
The first Commissioner of Social Security began his tenure on July 16, 1946. 
Today, a day shy of 73 years later, I’d like to introduce Andrew Saul as the new Senate-confirmed Commissioner of the Social Security Administration. 
We went almost six-and-a-half years without a confirmed Commissioner at Social Security, and I am pleased to now have one in place.
Commissioner Saul has a strong background and brings a lot of experience to his new position. 
He worked as the Chair of the Federal Thrift Investment Board administering the federal Thrift Savings Plan, which provides opportunities for the military and federal employees to save for retirement. His work there led to expanded savings options, increased participation, greater efficiency and reduced costs for plan participants. 
Commissioner Saul also has had success in the private sector managing some publicly traded retail apparel chains which included hundreds of retail outlets and thousands of workers. In that kind of work, you have to know what’s going on in your stores and with the workers who are delivering customer service. 
Given his success, Commissioner Saul must have paid attention to those things. That kind of a background will be important for Social Security where customer service is essential. That means delivering efficient, reliable and timely services to beneficiaries of the various Social Security programs, ranging from retirement to disability to supplemental security income programs. 
In addition to his federal service with the Thrift Investment Board and his private-sector experience, Commissioner Saul has dedicated much of his life to community service. That indicates to me that his success has been coupled with a sense of community responsibility and desire to give back to communities that have supported and enabled his individual successes.
Moving forward, as I know he understands, Commissioner Saul faces challenges at the Social Security Administration. There is bipartisan agreement on at least a few things regarding Social Security. 
Wait times on the phone are too long. 
Disability hearing backlogs are too large and wait times are too long. 
Work needs to be done to improve the computer systems. 
And payment accuracy needs improvement.
So, as I congratulate and welcome you, Commissioner Saul, I know that you are aware of the challenges ahead and are eager to help us make the Social Security programs work better for the beneficiaries served by the Social Security Administration. 
And, if you don’t know by now, I’ll remind you that I take oversight very seriously. So you ought to know that I’ll be watching you.
Let me congratulate you again Commissioner Saul on your appointment, and welcome you to your new position. 
And I thank your family for the support that they will be offering as you confront the challenges facing the Social Security Administration and help us work for the American people.
Thank you.