Social Security Administration:

Effective Leadership Needed to Meet Daunting Challenges

T-OCG-96-7: Published: Jul 25, 1996. Publicly Released: Jul 25, 1996.

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GAO discussed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) efforts to address future policy changes and program issues. GAO noted that: (1) SSA is strengthening its strategic management process, developing performance measures, measuring customer satisfaction, and producing accurate financial statements; (2) SSA has not performed the research, analysis, and evaluation needed to inform the public on the future of social security financing; (3) by 2015, 50 million people will be receiving social security benefits and 2.6 workers will be paying taxes into the social security system; (4) the aging of the baby boom generation, coupled with increasing life expectancy and the declining ratio of contributing workers to beneficiaries, will place unprecedented strains on the social security system; (5) SSA disability caseloads have grown by 70 percent in the last decade; (6) SSA has attempted to redesign its disability claims process, but it is unable to determine whether specific process changes will achieve the desired results; (7) SSA has not sufficiently promoted return-to-work initiatives in the disability program; (8) SSA faces significant challenges in modernizing its information systems, managing increasing workloads with a reduced workforce, and delivering its services; and (9) SSA needs effective leadership to inform the national debate on social security financing issues, complete the redesign of the disability claims process, promote return to work programs, enhance program integrity, and make technological enhancements.

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