The Social Security Administration clarified why it was seeking to purchase 174,000 hollow point bullets in a blog post on Thursday, saying that the agency employs "special agents" with "full law enforcement authority."
TheBlaze previously reported that the SSA had posted a "Request for Quote for Ammunition" on the FedBizOps.gov website earlier this month. The solicitation called for 174,000 .357 Sig 125 grain bonded jacketed hollow point bullets.
The SSA’s Office of the Inspector General addressed the solicitation in a blog post on the agency's website with the title, "Beyond the Numbers":
As we said in a recent post, our office has criminal investigators, or special agents, who are responsible for investigating violations of the laws that govern SSA’s programs. Currently, about 295 special agents and supervisory special agents work in 66 offices across the United States. These investigators have full law enforcement authority, including executing search warrants and making arrests.
Our investigators are similar to your State or local police officers. They use traditional investigative techniques, and they are armed when on official duty.
Media reports expressed concerns over the type of ammunition ordered. In fact, this type of ammunition is standard issue for many law enforcement agencies. OIG’s special agents use this ammunition during their mandatory quarterly firearms qualifications and other training sessions, to ensure agent and public safety. Additionally, the ammunition our agents use is the same type used at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
Our special agents need to be armed and trained appropriately. 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.
The blog also links to another post about a fight that broke out near an SSA office in Massachusetts that required law enforcement to respond.
"SSA is processing more applications than ever, which means more traffic in SSA office...Employee and visitor safety is the highest priority for OIG, which, together with the Federal Protective Services and local law enforcement, has jurisdiction over SSA workplaces," the blog states.
What the blog post does not clear up is why the SSA needs such massive amounts of ammunition and whether it is a standard purchase for the SSA.