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Highlights

Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO: (1) explored ways to reduce the potential for fraud in obtaining and using social security number (SSN) cards; and (2) identified technological alternatives for making the card more resistant to counterfeiting.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
Congress may wish to consider whether the cost of replacing SSN cards as a result of IRCA should be paid from either appropriated funds or fees charged to those requesting the cards, rather than from the Social Security Trust Funds.
Closed - Not Implemented
There is no evidence of any congressional action on this issue. GAO does not expect any at this point.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Health and Human Services The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of Social Security to experiment with increased document verification to determine the extent of fraud and the benefits of additional verification.
Closed - Implemented
SSA has completed a document verification study.
Department of Health and Human Services The Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General should develop a plan for the enumeration of aliens that would provide that INS certify the employment eligibility of aliens applying for an SSN card, or establish an alternative method of employment eligibility verification that would be as effective.
Closed - Not Implemented
INS does not plan to pursue the recommendation due to staffing constraints.
Department of Justice The Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General should develop a plan for the enumeration of aliens that would provide that INS certify the employment eligibility of aliens applying for an SSN card, or establish an alternative method of employment eligibility verification that would be as effective.
Closed - Not Implemented
INS does not plan to pursue the recommendation due to staffing constraints.
Department of Health and Human Services The Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General should develop a plan for annotating SSN cards for aliens who are authorized to work in this country on a temporary basis.
Closed - Implemented
The Administration requested and Congress appropriated funds for annotating SSN cards.
Department of Justice The Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General should develop a plan for annotating SSN cards for aliens who are authorized to work in this country on a temporary basis.
Closed - Implemented
The Administration requested and Congress appropriated funds for annotating SSN cards.
Department of Health and Human Services The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of Social Security to secure new and replacement SSN cards against the threat posed by color copiers.
Closed - Implemented
In early 1988, SSA modified new and replacement SSN cards so that the image "void" would appear on copies made of the original.
Department of Health and Human Services The Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services should study the cards confiscated from illegal aliens to identify the extent and methods employed to obtain and use SSN cards.
Closed - Implemented
The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Inspector General has completed the subject report.
Department of Justice The Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services should study the cards confiscated from illegal aliens to identify the extent and methods employed to obtain and use SSN cards.
Closed - Implemented
The HHS Inspector General has completed the subject report.
Department of Health and Human Services If the Attorney General concludes that the number of employment eligibility documents under IRCA should be reduced, he and the Secretary of Health and Human Services should study the potential impact of such a change on requests for replacement SSN cards.
Closed - Not Implemented
Justice decided to reduce the number of employment eligibility documents; however, there is no evidence at this point that this study will be undertaken.
Department of Justice If the Attorney General concludes that the number of employment eligibility documents under IRCA should be reduced, he and the Secretary of Health and Human Services should study the potential impact of such a change on requests for replacement SSN cards.
Closed - Not Implemented
Justice decided to reduce the number of employment eligibility documents; however, there is no evidence at this point that this study will be undertaken.
Department of Justice The Attorney General should consider reducing the number of employment eligibility documents and specifically consider making the SSN card the only authorized employment eligibility document.
Closed - Implemented
Justice has started to implement a plan to reduce the number of employment eligibility documents. However, neither Justice or SSA want to make the SSN card the only authorized employment eligibility document.

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