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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Why is Social Security Buying Bullets?

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R Carner/Shutterstock.com

A couple of months ago, the Office of the Inspector General at the Social Security Administration launched a blog, "Behind the Numbers," to highlight IG activities. But now officials have taken to the blog to explain why the IG office itself has attracted some awkward attention.

It started when news broke that the IG's office was planning to purchase 174,000 hollow point bullets, prompting some organizations to question whether SSA was preparing to quell civil unrest in the event of an economic collapse. 

In a blog post, IG officials said there was no reason for alarm. The purchase was not out of the ordinary, they said, given that their criminal investigators have law enforcement authority and are armed when on duty. The IG office has almost 300 such investigators in 66 offices across the country. The ammunition ordered for their use is standard issue for police officers, the IG office contends. 

"Our special agents need to be armed and trained appropriately," the IG office says. "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."

(Image via  R Carner/Shutterstock.com)

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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