Social Security as an Independent Agency

T-HRD-93-34: Published: Sep 14, 1993. Publicly Released: Sep 14, 1993.

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GAO discussed the possible establishment of the Social Security Administration (SSA) as an independent agency. GAO noted that: (1) before health care reform, there was no compelling reason to establish SSA as an independent agency; (2) the health care reform debate could hinder the Department of Health and Human Services from giving SSA the support it needs; (3) a single administrator would be the best management structure for an independent SSA because of the inefficiency, ineffectiveness, and wastefulness of governing boards; (4) an SSA board could provide Congress and the executive branch with diverse and informed opinions about major Social Security policy issues in an advisory capacity; (3) specific management authorities for personnel, facility management, and acquisitions should be delegated to an independent SSA to provide managers with the flexibility and incentive to improve performance; (4) delegations of management authority should not occur until SSA has management expertise and appropriate controls in place; (5) SSA staff in chief operating positions should have career status to provide operational continuity and help depoliticize the agency; and (6) SSA needs to improve its business practices, upgrade technology, and reorganize to be responsive to customer needs.

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