Improvements Needed in the District's General Public Assistance Program

GGD-83-13: Published: Mar 3, 1983. Publicly Released: Mar 3, 1983.

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GAO reviewed the District of Columbia's General Public Assistance (GPA) program and recommended specific action which it believes will enhance the District's administration of the program.

GAO found that some recipients worked and earned income in excess of allowable earnings or received unemployment compensation while they received GPA benefits. Increased use of the reports which list recipients who may have earned wages or received unemployment compensation will ensure that correct payments are made to eligible recipients. Also, recipients need to be adequately informed of the program's eligibility requirements and the consequence of failure to report changes in their medical conditions or social status. Many recipients should not have been certified to receive GPA either because they were ineligible or because sufficient information was not available to make a determination of eligibility. Guidelines have not been developed to assist the District's Medical Review Team (MRT) in making determinations for GPA eligibility. In addition, since recipients referred for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are not regularly certified, many continue to receive GPA benefits without a current medical evaluation. A GAO analysis of a sample of judgmentally selected cases showed that data concerning other recipients' periods of eligibility are not being accurately entered into the computer database.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A new monthly computer wage match has been developed which includes wage and unemployment data reported to the District's Department of Employment Services.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should instruct the Director, DHS, to prepare monthly MRR's for GPA recipients who received unemployment compensation benefits.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Department of Human Services

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Medical eligibility guidelines in the GPA Policy Manual and extracts from the Social Security Handbook are now used by DHS in determining medical eligibility for GPA benefits.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should instruct the Director, DHS, to develop guidelines for use by MRT for determining medical eligibility for GPA benefits.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Department of Human Services

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DHS has not devised a new form or revised existing forms. The Income Maintenance Management System now sends out a notice automatically 60 days before current incapacity period ends advising clients of the need to return a new medical report. If the new medical report is not received within 30 days, a computer-generated termination letter is sent.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should instruct the Director, DHS, to devise a new form, or revise existing forms, to strengthen the procedures concerning the requirement that recipients report changes in their medical condition or social status and the consequences of not reporting such changes.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Department of Human Services

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should instruct the Director, DHS, to review all cases referred for SSI every 3 months and those cases determined not eligible for SSI should be reviewed for recertification for continued GPA benefits. Periodic reports should be made to management on the number of cases pending and the status of case reviews.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Department of Human Services

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should instruct the Director, DHS, to ensure that all information concerning recipients' eligibility expiration dates in the computer database is accurate and that all cases with past-due expiration dates are reviewed.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Department of Human Services

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should instruct the Director, DHS, to emphasize to caseworkers the need to forward all medical reports to the MRT when they are received.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Department of Human Services

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DHS proposed legislation to provide authority but the Council did not act on the legislation. DHS does not intend to resubmit the legislation, according to the Administrator of the Income Maintenance Administration.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should instruct the Director, DHS, to seek authority to discontinue assistance in those cases where the recipient offers inadequate justification for refusing to act on referrals for training or treatment.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Department of Human Services

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should instruct the Director, DHS, to implement procedures requiring follow-up and exchange of data on recipients referred for training/treatment.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Department of Human Services

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The DHS Office of Inspection and Compliance included GPA in the quality control system for the first time in fiscal year 1985.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should instruct the Director, DHS, to implement a quality control system for the GPA program.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Department of Human Services

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Income Maintenance Administration of DHS issued instructions via a memorandum which outlines the procedures to be followed when handling MRR's. The new match report also includes wage and unemployment data reported to the District's Department of Employment Services.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should instruct the Director, Department of Human Services (DHS), to establish procedures to require that all Match Recipient Reports (MRR's) be reviewed. Such reviews can be accomplished by distributing MRR's to caseworkers for preliminary review before complete investigation by the Office of Eligibility Review.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Department of Human Services

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DHS reissued its General Public Assistance Policy Handbook in June 1986. The handbook has been issued in two volumes, one for adults and one for children, to provide for ease of administration.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should instruct the Director, DHS, to prepare and issue a procedure manual for the day-to-day operations of the GPA program.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Department of Human Services

 

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