Social Security Administration's Performance in Providing Public Service

Published: Nov 17, 1983. Publicly Released: Nov 17, 1983.

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GAO discussed the operational activities of the Social Security Administration (SSA), focusing on performance of routine program operations and the SSA ability to implement newly legislated program changes. While problems include inadequate automatic data processing (ADP) resources, GAO believes that there are non-ADP factors influencing the SSA ability to perform its routine functions and respond to legislative actions. The SSA legislative mandate is frequently changed, requiring application of strained resources to implementation of changes in the agency's mission. Other areas which impose heavy workloads include work performed for other Federal agencies, responses to court decisions, and public inquiries. Problems imposed by these workloads are compounded by staff shortages at SSA; staffing data indicate that the number of positions filled at the end of the year is consistently less than the number allowed in the agency's budget. The lack of a recruitment mechanism for 9 months contributed to staffing problems, and the complexity of the SSA system for conveying instructions to personnel has contributed to problems in administering programs.

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