Social Security:

Staff Reductions and Service Quality

HRD-87-139BR: Published: Sep 17, 1987. Publicly Released: Sep 17, 1987.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the effect of staff reductions at the Social Security Administration (SSA) during the third quarter of fiscal year 1987, focusing on: (1) changes in staffing and performance for the quarter as compared to prior periods; and (2) allegations of deteriorating office performance.

GAO found that: (1) SSA key performance indicators showed stable or improved performance for claims processing times, pending work loads, processing accuracy, and client waiting time; (2) there was an increase in processing time due to an increase in hearings and a reduction in staff; (3) complaints from the public about telephone accessibility had increased; and (4) there was no evidence of improper practices affecting performance. GAO also found that: (1) staffing reductions have forced supervisors into directly processing work rather than supervising and monitoring performance; and (2) SSA has placed more emphasis on productivity goals than on accuracy.

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