From Ernest Scheyder in LAROSE, La.:

At a civic center here, newly appointed oil fund administrator Ken Feinberg tried to put to rest concerns that the claims process is inefficient and learn more about the region’s unique economy.

USA-RIG/FISHINGA program like this cannot be designed and administered from Washington,” he said. “You have to come down here and take time to listen.”

The claims process will transition from BP’s control to become the new “Gulf Coast-Feinberg” program within 20 days, and soon applicants will be able to file claims online after complaints by many affected by the leak that the process is often cumbersome, requiring stacks of paperwork and several visits to claims centers.

While Feinberg promised to make the process more efficient, he also implored victims to not give up.

“I can’t help you if you don’t file a claim,” he said.  The first step, already underway, would provide victims with cash for urgent expenses, such as food, rent and utilities. Most boat deckhands, for instance, have been receiving $2,500 a month. Accepting this first phase of money does not prevent someone from suing BP, Feinberg said.