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Oil fund pay czar urges businesses: 'Get the ball' rolling

Ken Feinberg, the so-called $20 billion Gulf oil spill escrow fund pay czar, testified before the House Small Business Committee, reassuring members that he is committed to paying out legitimate claims as quickly and as transparently as possible.

He urged anyone who felt they had a claim to "get the ball" rolling, and that they would not have to give up any rights.

"If you are seeking emergency financial assistance," he said, "only later would you have to decide to take a lump sum at some later date, and then you would have to decide not to sue."

He cautioned though, not everyone is eligible. Claimants will have to be able to prove their claim.

"Show me something to justify a prompt emergency payment," he urged.

Feinberg didn't yet have answers on who may be eligible regarding empty beach-front businesses, or property owners who did not have tar balls or oil damage.

"That is a tough question," he said. "If there is no physical damages, I venture to say it is not payable."
But, he added, that is something he would take a look at.

One member said she had heard that "Mom and Pop" operations were having a hard time navigating the system, and that many didn't even know where to begin.

"My goal is to make it transparent and efficient," Feinberg said, "one that mom-and-pop businesses can use."