Views on Specific Issues Included in Pending Legislation

B-205350: Published: Nov 12, 1981. Publicly Released: Jun 4, 1985.

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GAO offered its views on specific issues included in pending legislation on the Federal Employees' Compensation Program and listed other issues which it believes should be considered. Enactment of the provisions of H.R. 1176 and H.R. 2905 should: (1) reduce the number of minor and frivolous claims which are diverting the Labor Department's efforts from more serious claims; (2) reduce the cost to taxpayers; (3) give federal employees an incentive to return to work; (4) make the free-choice-of-physician process more effective; and (5) help return employees to full or light duty at the earliest possible time. Enactment of H.R. 4388 would provide the injured worker with enough money to maintain a standard of living which is somewhat comparable to that which existed before the injury and provide a sufficient financial incentive to seek rehabilitation and reemployment, where possible. Enactment of H.R. 4388 should also provide a means to reduce the financial impact on federal employees resulting from delays in Labor's initial determinations. GAO believes that the Federal Employees' Compensation Act should be amended to provide employing agencies with the right to appeal Labor compensation decisions. GAO approves of the proposed integration of federal compensation and retirement systems in H.R. 4388 and the provision of authority to employing agencies to require compensation claimants to submit to physical examinations. Effective administration of the act may be achieved by adopting the personalized face-to-face type of monitoring techniques used in the workers' compensation insurance industry. The Office of Management and Budget should determine whether it would be feasible to delegate to the employing agencies responsibility for providing monitoring and rehabilitation services to claimants under the act. Because of the medical uncertainty over the cause of many diseases, Congress may wish to consider whether actual administrative practices conform to current legislative intent. GAO believes that a provision to allow certain employees to use their pre-injury withholding allowances as a basis for computing their compensation should be deleted as inequitable. Congress should be aware that the reduction of benefits for survivors in the present law is not included in the pending legislation and that the concept in the pending legislation of benefits being based on spendable income is not being followed for all beneficiaries.

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