Social Security Administration:

Effective Leadership Needed to Meet Daunting Challenges

HEHS-96-196: Published: Sep 12, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 12, 1996.


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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Social Security Administration's (SSA): (1) progress in meeting challenges; and (2) status as an independent agency.

GAO found that: (1) while SSA is starting to manage for results and improve financial accountability, it has not taken steps to contribute to the public debate on the future financing of the Social Security system; (2) unless changes are made to the system, the Social Security trust funds will be depleted by 2029; (3) SSA disability caseloads are growing, and SSA is trying to fundamentally redesign the disability claims process; (4) SSA has not adequately promoted return-to-work programs in redesigning its disability processes; (5) SSA should do more to combat fraud and abuse in the Supplemental Security Income Program; (6) SSA is reducing its staff, and nearly half of its senior executives will be eligible to retire in the next 5 years; (7) these workload challenges will complicate the tasks SSA faces; (8) SSA is working to modernize its information systems, but this effort will be costly and complex; and (9) effective leadership is critical to SSA efforts to modernize and meet future challenges.

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