Social Security Administration:

Status of Achieving Key Outcomes and Addressing Major Management Challenges

GAO-01-778: Published: Jun 15, 2001. Publicly Released: Jul 16, 2001.

Contact:

Barbara D. Bovbjerg
(202) 512-5491
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

GAO reviewed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) fiscal year 2000 performance report and fiscal year 2002 performance plan to assess SSA's progress in achieving five key outcomes important to the agency's mission. The five key outcomes are (1) providing timely, accurate, and useful information and services to the public; (2) making disability determinations more timely and accurate; (3) reducing long-term disability benefits as people return to the workplace; (4) providing timely information to decisionmakers on program policy issues, such as long-term solvency of trust fund; and (5) reducing waste, fraud, abuse, and error in the Supplemental Security Income program. Although it lowered and met its goal for the volume of 800-number calls processed, SSA did not report on its progress toward improving the accuracy of 800-number service because data were not yet available. SSA's strategy for meeting its fiscal year 2002 goals included training customer staff to be more accurate. However, in its fiscal year 2002 plan, SSA merged two accuracy indicators without sufficient justification, which may affect SSA's ability to monitor and manage performance. Even though SSA lowered the targets for about half of its goals, it still did not meet several of them, including goals for the volume and timeliness of disability hearings. SSA's measures were primarily output-oriented and did not directly convey SSA's progress. SSA's fiscal year 2002 strategies are more results-oriented and include goals and measures that are more clearly linked to its objectives. SSA has not developed performance goals for several indicators, including reductions in the number of disabled Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries receiving cash benefits. The plan should help SSA better track customer satisfaction with its research products. SSA's fiscal year 2002 strategies could be improved by including additional indicators of its antifraud efforts, such as tracing the number of civil and monetary penalties levied.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To further improve SSA's future performance reports and plans, we recommend that the Commissioner of Social Security ensure that all key performance data necessary to measure SSA's progress toward achieving its strategic goals are included in its annual performance report.

    Agency Affected: Social Security Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to SSA, as the agency continues to refine and improve its annual performance plan and report, it will make sure to include all key performance data necessary to measure its progress towards goals when actual full-year performance data are available. When full-year performance data are not available, SSA includes it as a discrete section in the following year's performance report.

    Recommendation: To further improve SSA's future performance reports and plans, we recommend that the Commissioner of Social Security develop specific goals and measures to address information security and remaining information systems weaknesses that may affect the reliability and credibility of SSA's performance data.

    Agency Affected: Social Security Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SSA has been developing security standards for all of its systems platforms, including measures that address weaknesses that affect the reliability and credibility of its performance data. These measures are being developed under the framework of the Government Information Security Reform Act. This effort has involved identifying security and access issues and addressing them on a system-by-system basis. In addition, SSA has institutionalized its review and recertification of SSA sensitive system plans, and its testing of SSA's Contingency Plan and Incident Response procedures.

    Recommendation: To further improve SSA's future performance reports and plans, we recommend that the Commissioner of Social Security include in SSA's performance plan an explanation of the agency's rationale for revising and/or deleting prior performance goals and measures, as well as a discussion as to how goals or measures will better support SSA's strategic goals.

    Agency Affected: Social Security Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SSA agreed that the rationale for changes to performance goals and measures should be thoroughly explained in its annual performance plans. SSA included the measures for disability claims pending and hearings pending in its annual performance plan for fiscal year 2003.

    Jul 22, 2014

    Jun 17, 2014

    Jun 11, 2014

    Jun 10, 2014

    May 28, 2014

    May 21, 2014

    May 12, 2014

    May 7, 2014

    Apr 30, 2014

    Looking for more? Browse all our products here