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Message from the Special Master – Allison Lee Turkel named Special Master

March 10, 2023

Dear Friends,

As a native New Yorker, a former Philadelphia area police officer and lieutenant, and a Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Assistant District Attorney, it is an honor and privilege to be appointed as the Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”).  I recognize I am stepping into the position to carry on the legacy of those who held the role before me, while also focusing on the future of a program that must continue to meet the needs of claimants for decades to come.  It is truly remarkable to see that over $11.1 billion has been awarded to claimants since the re-opened VCF began issuing awards in 2012, and perhaps more sobering to see the number of new claims that continue to be filed each month.  I am both excited and humbled by this opportunity to serve the 9/11 community.   

It is clear to me that the VCF has made significant progress each year since it re-opened in October 2011.  With the passage of the Zadroga Act in 2010, its reauthorization in December 2015, and the permanent authorization in July 2019 through the “Never Forget the Heroes” Act, the team has demonstrated its commitment to our mission and those we serve.  I bring into this role my own commitment to serving victims, which has shaped my career for the last 14 years as a career civil servant at the Department of Justice.

I want to thank Auggie for serving as interim Special Master over the past 10 months, leading the team and ensuring there was no slowdown in claims processing.  Although he served in the role on an interim basis, Auggie’s dedication to the 9/11 community is reflected in the over 7,400 awards issued during his tenure, and the achievement of his goal to reduce to six months the time between an appeal hearing being held and the post-hearing decision rendered.  I know the VCF team shares in these thanks, and sincerely appreciates Auggie’s many contributions during this period of transition.

Although I have only just started my work with the VCF, it is apparent that the program has an excellent management team and a talented and dedicated staff, many of whom have been here for over five years.  Their expertise and historical knowledge will be critical as I begin what I know is a steep learning curve, and I want to assure the 9/11 community and our team that my number one priority is to process and pay claims without any delays related to this transition. 

I am also excited to join the VCF in the midst of the VCF Transformation, which was announced in our eleventh Annual Report. It is an exciting time as we look to our future.  I stand ready to help the VCF build upon its successes and move into the next phase of the program with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to provide the help that is still so urgently needed.

As I assume my responsibilities as Special Master of this extraordinary program, I fully embrace the VCF’s guiding principles to be faithful to the statute, fair to claimants, and defensible to taxpayers.  This is a program that has always operated with transparency and compassion, and this will not change as we continue to work to provide full compensation to those who have suffered as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

I very much look forward to continuing to share reports of our progress.

With best regards,