Social Security Should Change Its Proposed Process for Comprehensive Long-Range Planning

HRD-81-120: Published: Jul 2, 1981. Publicly Released: Jul 2, 1981.

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GAO reviewed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) process for conducting comprehensive long-range planning.

Nearly 2 years have passed since GAO reported that the SSA structural reorganization did not provide for comprehensive long-range planning. SSA has been slow in developing an agencywide planning process, and the functional planning structure which has evolved is not fully responsive to prior GAO recommendations or to recommendations made by the SSA planning consultant. GAO believes that weaknesses in the planning structure could substantially delay the development of sound SSA-wide long-range operational plans upon which key ongoing medium- and short-range planning should be based. Developing an effective long-range planning process seems to be the only way SSA will be able to avoid recurrence of its systems problems, including hardware capacity problems, archaic and undocumented software, and shortages of key systems personnel. GAO believes that implementing the functional planning process which SSA has proposed would subject it to the risks inherent in delaying the development of a sound agencywide plan, and the planning delays which would likely result would only increase the agency's operational problems.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of SSA should direct that SSA assign responsibility for formulating comprehensive long-range plans to a single agency component, reporting directly to the Commissioner and not responsible for managing or supporting daily operations.

    Agency Affected: Social Security Administration

  2. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of SSA should assign the SSA planning support staff to the Office of the Commissioner, reporting directly to the Commissioner or a Deputy Commissioner. If the staff is assigned to the Executive Planning Committee, it should be solely assigned to that Committee, and that Committee should be chaired by one of the top agency officials.

    Agency Affected: Social Security Administration

  3. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of SSA should assign primary responsibility for formulating comprehensive long-range plans to the planning support staff and supplement its present personnel with representatives detailed from each operating component, including key field offices, to assist in the planning effort.

    Agency Affected: Social Security Administration

 

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