GAO's Views on H.R. 825, a Bill To Make the Social Security Administration an Independent Agency

Published: Apr 23, 1985. Publicly Released: Apr 23, 1985.

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GAO presented views on a bill to make the Social Security Administration (SSA) an independent agency, focusing on whether the management and operation of SSA would be improved by making it an independent agency. GAO found that the bill's provisions would: (1) remove the Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance and the Supplemental Security Income programs from the Department of Health and Human Services; (2) create an independent SSA headed by a 3-member bipartisan board; (3) establish a Beneficiary Ombudsman within SSA; and (4) authorize SSA certain exemptions from central management agencies' personnel, administrative, and budget requirements. GAO believes that the independence would enhance the opportunity to improve management; however, the creation of a board to head the agency and special exemptions need to be reviewed and modified. GAO believes that an administrator should be appointed for a statutory fixed term and that the advisory board should assist in policy matters. GAO supports delegating the authority for administrative services but only after SSA has shown that it has the requisite management expertise to effectively carry them out. GAO also supports the establishment of a Beneficiary Ombudsman to sponsor and support beneficiary interests. GAO believes that accomplishing this goal would increase the public's confidence and trust in the social security system.

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