Social Security:

Decision to Implement Nationwide 800 Telephone Service

HRD-88-120: Published: Sep 21, 1988. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Social Security Administration's (SSA) decision to implement a nationwide toll-free telephone number.

GAO found that SSA: (1) also considered offering partial toll-free service and establishing a national teleservice center as alternatives to the toll-free number; (2) believed that the national toll-free number was more efficient than its present system and would meet all of its service needs; (3) estimated that the toll-free number would cost about $34 million more per year than the current system; (4) projected that the toll-free system would create an increased demand on its computer capacity and require the development of new software and training of more staff; (5) plans to phase in use of the number through selective advertisement and dissemination, to avoid initial capacity overload; (6) plans to train extra staff in excess of its anticipated needs and complete development and testing of the required software in time for the system's implementation; and (7) developed contingency plans to prevent any significant adverse effects on service should software or computer capacity problems develop.

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