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GAO (General Accounting Office) Recommendations for Improving the Management of Social Security Administration Programs

NCJ Number
G J Ahart
Date Published
28 pages
A General Accounting Office (GAO) representative testified in 1979 before a congressional committee on waste, fraud, and management problems related to the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Because of the large outlays in these Social Security programs, $99 billion in 1980, even relatively minor problems can translate into large dollar amounts. Although GAO audits indicate that millions of dollars have been misspent, accurate figures on the total amount will not be available until certain measurement systems are developed. GAO has recommended several legislative and administrative actions to improve the management and reduce costs in social insurance programs. In a 1977 review of the Old Age and Survivors Insurance program, GAO recommended that rounding Social Security payments to the nearest $0.01 instead of to the next highest dime would save $386 million over 5 years. The report also emphasized that benefits paid to children attending school (ages 18 to 22) of Social Security recipients could now be carried by the Office of Education's Basic Grant program. Other suggestions have been made to Congress to save money or improve program administrations, such as ways to increase interest income on trust funds, to recover overpayments, and to reorganize field office operations. Potential savings could be realized in the disability programs by monitoring the eligibility of recipients, improving rehabilitation programs, and instituting Federal management of the disability determination process. A GAO assessment of SSA's extensive data processing and telecommunications activities indicated that some systems were underutilized and that new expenditures for equipment were not justified. Posting techniques have also been examined and revised. In response to congressional concern over inadequate safeguards of Social Security records, GAO studied security measures and made corrective recommendations for the central computer facility in Baltimore and regional offices which have been implemented by SSA. The newly established Office of Assessment should provide the SSA with the basic tools it needs to conduct regular performance evaluations and identify operational weaknesses.