The federal government has enlisted employees of the Federal Aviation Administration's air-traffic control unit and various federal contractors to help clear the backlog of "cash-for-clunker" rebates owed to auto dealers, according to this report.
An FAA memo obtained by The Washington Times reads in part:
"We have been asked to provide volunteers to assist with this high-visibility program … employees may work during regular business hours (providing mission allows) and/or overtime.
"The [Air Traffic Organization] has been asked to provide a list of 100 employees to assist. They will be asked to attend a two-hour training course this afternoon. The task is expected to take 5 to 10 days."
But Ms. Zuckman said that only support personnel, such as in finance and operations, were asked to work on the clunkers program.
"Nobody is being ordered to do anything; we weren't asking air traffic controllers to leave their posts. We're using budget and accounting people primarily," she said.
"It was made clear that no core mission activities of the FAA are to be affected by this effort, especially as they could relate to air traffic operations."
When the program was created, the federal government promised to repay dealers within seven days, yet as of last week only 7 percent of all claims had been paid. Moreover, some dealers are finding their claims rejected without explanation, according to this report (to which I linked last week).
Laura Sodano, a sales manager at Curry Chevrolet in Scarsdale, N.Y., said dealers were not told why their applications had not been approved and were having to review the entire form to determine what went wrong.
"I don't know one dealership that's gotten paid yet," Ms. Sodano said. "If they run out, we're in trouble. It's bringing us a lot of traffic, but it's not a very good program."
Among consumers, the program has created far more interest than experts had predicted. It was initially given $1 billion of funding, enough for about 250,000 sales, and an end date of Nov. 1. That money was used up in a little more than a week, and Congress quickly approved $2 billion more to extend it.
Transportation officials say they believe reimbursement requests of about $400 million on completed sales have yet to be filed, leaving about $600 million in credits still available for the final weekend, after removing $100 million for administrative costs.
If the funding is exhausted before all reimbursements are made, some dealers — and possibly G.M. — could end up having to write off the unpaid credits. The administration does not plan to seek a third installment of funding.
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