Worker and Family Assistance:

An Evaluation of the Organizational Relationship of the Office of Human Development Services and the Administration on Aging

FPCD-81-41: Published: Apr 20, 1981. Publicly Released: Apr 20, 1981.

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Human Development Services (0HDS) supervises program agencies, such as the Administration on Aging. GAO reviewed OHDS to determine if: (1) OHDS staff units have infringed on and usurped the responsibilities of the Commissioner on Aging, who heads the Administration on Aging; (2) staff units' placement over the Administration has resulted in duplicate functions and excessive administrative burdens; and (3) OHDS has attempted to systematically find out its workload requirements and staff needs as well as those of the Administration on Aging.

The present organizational structure of OHDS violates provisions of the Older Americans Act which state that the Secretary shall not approve any delegation of the functions of the Commissioner to any other officer not directly responsible to the Commissioner. The structure violates the provisions because OHDS grants and contract officers are not directly responsible to the Commissioner on Aging even though they perform many grant and contract administration functions regarding the Administration on Aging. Also, financial management responsibility for the Administration's discretionary and formula grants is vested in regional office personnel who are not directly responsible to the Commissioner on Aging. GAO did not identify any adverse effects associated with these violations or evidence of duplicate functions or excessive administrative burdens. However, because Congress intended for the functions to be carried out by persons directly responsible to the Commissioner on Aging, GAO recommends actions to deal with these matters. OHDS has not systematically determined its staff needs. Because they lack a systematic, formal process for determining staff needs, GAO could not determine if the Administration on Aging or other OHDS units were sufficiently or insufficiently staffed. Workforce planning could be an effective, internal management tool. If the Secretary of HHS finds that complying with the Older American Act adversely affects the program, he should initiate legislation to amend the Act.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should revise the organizational structure of OHDS to discontinue the delegation of the Commissioner on Aging's functions, which allows (1) OHDS grant and contract officers to perform administrative functions regarding the Administration on Aging's discretionary grants and contracts; and (2) OHDS regional offices of fiscal operations to handle financial management functions for the Administration on Aging's discretionary and formula grants.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

 

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