Social Security Administration's Problems With Field Office Space

Gao ID: 112339 May 20, 1980

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers programs which provide benefits to the Nation's aged, blind, and disabled and their dependents and survivors. To serve them, SSA established a network of about 1,300 field offices. The field office operation is vital to the successful administration of SSA programs. In order to obtain and maintain the office space required for its field operation, SSA depends not only on the efforts of its own people, but on personnel in the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Health and Human Services. Over the past 4 years, SSA concern regarding field office space has been expressed at appropriation hearings before Congress. Many of the SSA field offices do not meet the expected condition or standards. Some need to be expanded, relocated, or a new office established because they are overcrowded or have poor office conditions. Public waiting areas are too small, and in most of the offices visited, a dignified professional environment is eroded by noise from office equipment, by the close proximity of other interviews, or by distractions from people moving about. Some conditions present safety hazards. GSA personnel indicated that inadequate funding and staffing and leasing moratoriums are factors which have limited their ability to satisfy Federal agencies' needs for office space. SSA has requested limited leasing authority which is presently under the jurisdiction of the GSA. If delegation is to be considered, it should be viewed on the basis of whether it will be the most efficient and economical way of dealing with SSA long-term needs, rather than on the basis of quickly overcoming the existing backlog problem.

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