Social Security:

Staff Reductions and Service Quality

HRD-89-106BR: Published: Jun 16, 1989. Publicly Released: Jun 26, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed issues related to the Social Security Administration's (SSA) quality of service, focusing on: (1) SSA employee morale; (2) SSA processing of its post-entitlement work loads; (3) the nature and extent of SSA public information activities; and (4) the new SSA methodology for measuring waiting times in its field offices.

GAO found that: (1) surveys have identified morale as a persistent problem at SSA, and employees and managers attributed the low morale primarily to staff reductions; (2) available information suggests that job satisfaction at SSA may be lower than at most major federal agencies; (3) in 1988, SSA field offices rated SSA timeliness in processing post-entitlement work loads lower than most other field office services, but data indicated that SSA performance was stable from fiscal years 1984 through 1988; (4) the amount of time and resources devoted to public information activities at SSA field offices has declined since 1984; and (5) the new SSA method for measuring waiting times provided a more complete measure than the old method, appeared to reduce the incentive for field offices to manipulate the study results, and was less of an administrative burden.

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