HHS' Action To Implement GAO's Recommendations Concerning the National Recipient System Has Been Curtailed--A New System Is Being Proposed

Gao ID: HRD-81-89 April 27, 1981

In a prior report, GAO made recommendations to the former Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare concerning a proposal to implement a National Recipient System (NRS). NRS was to be a computerized system developed and maintained at the Federal level designed to help States and territories reduce fraud, abuse, and error in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. A review was conducted to determine what actions have been taken on these recommendations.

The prior report raised concerns about the need for a new system to perform functions which may be performed by existing Federal systems and the adequacy of the cost effectiveness assessments used to support the system. GAO recommended that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) assess the need for and cost of the proposed NRS before its implementation. HHS agreed to fully address the recommendations. However, according to HHS officials, NRS was subsequently abandoned and little effort was actually made to reassess the need for and cost of the system. During the current review, GAO determined that HHS is evaluating the provision of a draft bill, referred to as the Social Welfare Amendments of 1981, that would establish a National Recipient Information System. The proposal resembles the previously proposed NRS and, if HHS is using the same justifications to support this proposal that were used for NRS, it could present the same concerns raised in the previous report. Since detailed information was not available to GAO at the time of its review, the merits of the new system could not be evaluated.

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