GAO reviewed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) fiscal year 2000 performance report and fiscal year 2002 performance plan to assess SSA's progress in achieving five key outcomes important to the agency's mission. The five key outcomes are (1) providing timely, accurate, and useful information and services to the public; (2) making disability determinations more timely and accurate; (3) reducing long-term disability benefits as people return to the workplace; (4) providing timely information to decisionmakers on program policy issues, such as long-term solvency of trust fund; and (5) reducing waste, fraud, abuse, and error in the Supplemental Security Income program. Although it lowered and met its goal for the volume of 800-number calls processed, SSA did not report on its progress toward improving the accuracy of 800-number service because data were not yet available. SSA's strategy for meeting its fiscal year 2002 goals included training customer staff to be more accurate. However, in its fiscal year 2002 plan, SSA merged two accuracy indicators without sufficient justification, which may affect SSA's ability to monitor and manage performance. Even though SSA lowered the targets for about half of its goals, it still did not meet several of them, including goals for the volume and timeliness of disability hearings. SSA's measures were primarily output-oriented and did not directly convey SSA's progress. SSA's fiscal year 2002 strategies are more results-oriented and include goals and measures that are more clearly linked to its objectives. SSA has not developed performance goals for several indicators, including reductions in the number of disabled Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries receiving cash benefits. The plan should help SSA better track customer satisfaction with its research products. SSA's fiscal year 2002 strategies could be improved by including additional indicators of its antifraud efforts, such as tracing the number of civil and monetary penalties levied.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Social Security Administration||To further improve SSA's future performance reports and plans, we recommend that the Commissioner of Social Security ensure that all key performance data necessary to measure SSA's progress toward achieving its strategic goals are included in its annual performance report.|
|Social Security Administration||To further improve SSA's future performance reports and plans, we recommend that the Commissioner of Social Security develop specific goals and measures to address information security and remaining information systems weaknesses that may affect the reliability and credibility of SSA's performance data.|
|Social Security Administration||To further improve SSA's future performance reports and plans, we recommend that the Commissioner of Social Security include in SSA's performance plan an explanation of the agency's rationale for revising and/or deleting prior performance goals and measures, as well as a discussion as to how goals or measures will better support SSA's strategic goals.|