Debt Management

More Aggressive Actions Needed to Reduce Billions in Overpayments Gao ID: HRD-91-46 July 9, 1991

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on debt management practices at the Social Security Administration (SSA), Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

GAO found that: (1) SSA has made little progress in controlling and collecting benefit overpayments, with its collection rate remaining at about 28 percent between fiscal years (FY) 1986 and 1989; (2) SSA was unable to collect a higher percentage of its overpayments due to a lack of emphasis on debt collection, fragmented responsibility for managing and collecting overpayments, legal restrictions on using certain collection methods that other agencies used, and improper use of policies and procedures governing the recovery of overpayments; (3) SSA proposed a legislative strategy to request the authority to use collection methods under the Debt Collection Act of 1982; (4) between FY 1986 and 1989, RRB collected about 55 percent of its total outstanding overpayments, OPM about 55 percent, and VA about 30 percent; (5) OPM and VA could increase their overpayments collections if they used all of the collection methods required by law; and (6) OPM and RRB had fragmented organizations for debt collection, but RRB was working on centralizing this function.


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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