Social Security Administration Needs To Continue Comprehensive Long-Range Planning

HRD-79-118: Published: Sep 20, 1979. Publicly Released: Sep 20, 1979.

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In January 1979, The Social Security Administration (SSA) began reorganization in order to improve its operating efficiency and services to the American public and to provide SSA with added flexibility to respond to changing future demands. Such long-range planning was previously performed by the SSA Office of Advanced Systems (OAS). A study was conducted of the role of OAS in comprehensive long-range planning to ensure responsiveness to future program needs.

Responsibility for comprehensive long-range planning should be clearly fixed within the new organizational structure of SSA. SSA needs comprehensive planning for allocating resources and designing and developing automatic data processing (ADP) systems. OAS long-range planning efforts were appropriately directed toward defining the agency's mission, setting clear and specific goals and objectives, and setting priorities for achieving those goals and objectives. The long-range planning approach was well organized and systematic. Throughout its work, OAS systematically developed and evaluated alternative solutions to solving the major problems toward which the project was directed. In addition, OAS planning reflected detailed consideration of many factors affecting both current and future SSA operations. SSA has made a substantial investment in long-range planning through previous OAS activities. These activities represent positive steps toward implementing previous GAO recommendations. However, SSA reorganization does not support those positive efforts because it does not provide for continuing comprehensive long-range planning. Planning efforts, as they presently exist within the agency, are fragmented and lack sufficient high-level management involvement and support needed for sucessful implementation of comprehensive long-range plans. This is likely to result in inadequate consideration of future agency needs, goals, and responsibilities.

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