Social Security Administration on Ammo Buy: 589 Bullets Per Agent Is Normal

By Penny Starr | August 17, 2012 | 5:22pm EDT

Hollow point bullets. (AP Photo)

( – Tracy Lynge, deputy assistant inspector general with the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General, said the order for 174,000 rounds of hollow point bullets is normal for the agency to use in training its 295 special agents and arming them as law enforcement personnel deployed in 66 offices around the country.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) posted a "Request for Quote for Ammunition" on the website on Aug. 7. The request listed the bullets that SSA wanted as ".357 Sig 125 grain bonded jacketed hollow point pistol ammunition." The quantity listed was "174 TH."  (See  SSA order.pdf)

“As with other Federal law enforcement agencies, SSA’s OIG [Office of Inspector General] has established training requirements, such as mandatory quarterly firearms qualifications,” Lynge told in an Aug. 17 e-mail in response to questions about the ammunition acquisition. “This training uses a considerable amount of ammunition.”

“For example, 290 agents training four times per year and using 150 rounds per training session would need 174,000 rounds,” Lynge said.

She added that “SSA’s Office of the Inspector General follows all Department of Justice guidelines for statutory Federal law enforcement authority, and we also follow internal policies and procedures regarding ammunition and firearms training.”

Lynge said the SSA orders ammunition through each fiscal year budget and that the amount of the Aug. 7 request was not unusual.  (See SSA order.pdf)

“Generally speaking, each fiscal year, SSA procures ammunition for OIG’s criminal investigators to use during quarterly firearms qualifications and other training sessions, as well as during the normal course of their investigative duties,” Lynge said.

“The FY2013 procurement is in line with past procurements going back to the mid-1990s, with some variation based on additional or fewer projected agents or specialty training requirements,” Lynge said.

When asked how the 295 agents are disbursed throughout the 66 nationwide SSA properties and if they were all armed, Lynge told that all special agents are armed and deployed according to need.

“SSA OIG staffing and office locations are based on a variety of factors, such as relative population serviced by the office, fraud trends, and proximity to other Social Security offices,” Lynge said. “For example, the office located in Fairfield, California serves both the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento, California metropolitan areas.  Placing the office in Fairfield allows coverage of both metropolitan areas.”

“We constantly assess where the need for personnel is greatest and fill those positions first,” Lynge said.

Lynge also said the type of ammunition ordered by the SSA is in keeping with protocol for most law enforcement operations.

“Hollow point ammunition is widely used throughout the law enforcement community,” Lynge said. “In various calibers, it is used by virtually every police department and law enforcement agency throughout the country because it has been demonstrated to be the most effective type of ammunition for law enforcement purposes.”

“General practice in law enforcement is to use the exact same type of ammunition for training that is used for duty purposes,” Lynge said.

As reported earlier by after media reports about SSA’s ammunition order, SSA’s OIG posted a blog to explain the role of its investigators.

“These investigators have full law enforcement authority, including executing search warrants and making arrests,” the blog post states. “Our investigators are similar to your State or local police officers.”

“They use traditional investigative techniques, and they are armed when on official duty,” the blog post states.

“Our special agents need to be armed and trained appropriately,” the blog post states.  “They not only investigate allegations of Social Security fraud, but they also are called to respond to threats against Social Security offices, employees, and customers.”

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