Social Security Administration

Stable Leadership and Better Management Needed To Improve Effectiveness Gao ID: HRD-87-39 March 18, 1987

GAO reviewed management problems that the Social Security Administration (SSA) must address to ensure the continued delivery of high-quality service to social security recipients.

GAO noted that SSA has serious management problems that: (1) are not evident to the public; (2) have contributed to crisis situations in the past; and (3) could interfere with SSA ability to effectively accomplish its mission in the future. GAO found that SSA: (1) has had seven commissioners or acting commissioners over the last 10 years, resulting in frequent changes in priorities, diminished accountability, and little long-term operational planning; (2) has made little progress in modernizing its computer system, particularly its software; (3) plans to spend over $600 million to modernize its computer system; (4) does not have a plan to systematically identify and develop future leaders and managers; and (5) cannot ensure that employees' wage records are accurate. GAO also found that SSA: (1) makes substantial benefit overpayments annually; (2) has been unable to correct its financial management problems because of fragmented responsibility and lack of leadership; (3) has allowed wide variations in efficiency among similar units because of its limited emphasis on efficiency; (4) has neither established nor used measurable, national benchmarks for service quality or timeliness for certain post-entitlement work loads; and (5) has many employees who are uncertain about the future of their jobs and are dissatisfied with many management actions.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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