Social Security Reform: Greater Transparency Needed about Potential General Revenue Financing

GAO-07-213 Published: Mar 22, 2007. Publicly Released: Mar 22, 2007.
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Absent reform, Social Security's financing gap will grow until currently scheduled benefits can no longer be paid in full. Recent reform proposals often include general revenue (GR)--a major change that can have significant implications for the budget as a whole. This report addresses these issues: (1) What information is available about GR in recent proposal scorings by Social Security's Office of the Chief Actuary (OCACT)? (2) What common mechanisms, especially GR mechanisms, are used to increase program revenue? (3) What are the implications of GR for the trust fund and the federal budget? We have prepared this report under the Comptroller General's statutory authority to conduct evaluations on his own initiative as part of a continued effort to assist Congress in addressing the challenges facing Social Security.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Social Security Administration To improve public understanding of proposed changes to Social Security, the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) should direct the Office of the Chief Actuary at SSA to include a summary presentation of its analysis in future scoring memoranda that will enable policymakers and the general public to quickly and easily compare Social Security reform proposals especially with respect to proposed use of general revenue and federal budget implications.
Closed - Not Implemented
The agency took some steps to facilitate comparison of generic solvency provisions. In addition, in proposal scorings issued since GAO's report, the agency took some steps to facilitate comparison of solvency provisions. While GAO will continue to monitor the situation, we have determined that this recommendation should be closed as not implemented.

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