Social Security:

Telephone Access Enhanced at Field Offices Under Demonstration Project

HEHS-96-70: Published: Feb 23, 1996. Publicly Released: Feb 23, 1996.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) telephone access demonstration project.

GAO found that: (1) under one of the two telephone demonstration project configurations tested, telephone access improved significantly, busy-signal rates dropped, and the number of callers reaching SSA improved; (2) although improvements were statistically significant under a broader access definition, more callers were placed on hold because staffing had not increased; (3) configuration results varied among SSA offices; (4) SSA field office staff believe that the installation of voice mail equipment has improved office efficiency and public service; (5) SSA expects to complete its internal evaluations of the project's effect on local operations, employees, and public relations by the end of February 1996; and (6) the equipment tested in the demonstration project has the potential to further SSA public service goals, but SSA must assess the costs and contributions of the equipment before installing it systemwide.

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