Review of the National Recipient System

HRD-79-88: Published: May 29, 1979. Publicly Released: May 29, 1979.

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The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) proposed implementing a computerized National Recipient System (NRS) to help states reduce fraud, abuse, and error in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. NRS will match applicant-recipient identification data supplied by the states with records from other sources to identify overpaid or ineligible program participants. Total estimated federal and state systems costs for the first 5 fiscal years of NRS implementation and operations are about $38 million. This will cover only the costs of implementation, technical assistance, and operation and maintenance. No estimates have been made of the follow-up investigative costs associated with using the system.

There is a need for further study before a decision is made to implement the system. The question is raised as to whether there is a need for a new system to perform functions which may be performed by existing systems. Before the system is implemented, an expanded initial evaluation, more user input, and a reconsideration of the NRS data searching technique are needed.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) should be directed by the Secretary, HEW, to assess the need for NRS to perform a nationwide search of AFDC rolls to detect duplicate payments rather than state-initiated matches with neighboring states using the Interjurisdictional Data Exchange model or other appropriate techniques. In this regard, SSA should analyze the results of Project Match to determine the extent to which duplicate payments occurred in neighboring states. It should be determined whether there is a need for a new system to verify social security numbers (SSN) for the current AFDC case load, or whether alternate means of verifying accretions could be utilized. Consideration should be given to the need for a new and separate file being provided to states that will duplicate currently provided information and burden states with additional verification and records security responsibilities. The complete process from systems implementation to verification of output should be tested. States should be provided with enough information about NRS and associated costs so that they can make their own cost and savings projections. The opinions of the states should be solicited about the need for and cost effectiveness of NRS. The feasibility of using the SSN rather than the name for file searching in NRS should be fully assessed.

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