Welfare Eligibility:

Deficit Reduction Act Income Verification Issues

HRD-87-79FS: Published: May 26, 1987. Publicly Released: Jun 11, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reported on federal and state agencies' efforts to implement the data exchange provisions of the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984, focusing on: (1) coordination, resource, and procedural problems related to providing and using federal data; (2) the states' ability to effectively use, control, verify, and keep confidential large amounts of data; and (3) the need for federal and state oversight.

GAO found that, of the 53 jurisdictions that responded to its questionnaire: (1) 38 indicated that the development and operation of income verification systems would require additional funding, and 16 of those were not sure that the funding would be available; (2) most jurisdictions indicated that they planned to have a system in place by September 30, 1986; (3) 14 states had misinterpreted the time frame for processing income data from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); (4) a majority of the states felt that the start-up and operating costs would exceed any program cost benefits; (5) several states questioned the value of using tax information to match against welfare benefit files because of duplication and the age of federal data; (6) although most of the states indicated that they would be able to meet the guidelines for safeguarding federal tax data, 44 said that they would have to change an existing system or create a new one to meet IRS safeguards, and 37 said they would need to take similar action to meet SSA requirements; and (7) as of January 6, 1987, 50 jurisdictions had signed data access agreements with IRS and 41 with SSA.

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