SSA facing management challenges over next decade

The Social Security Administration has its work cut out for it in the next decade.

According to a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the SSA faces a number of management challenges, including the loss of many key players to retirement and a hiring freeze that is keeping the agency from filling key positions.

The report also found that the SSA faces ongoing challenges incorporating a more modern concept of disability into its programs while balancing competing needs to reduce backlogs of initial and appealed claims and ensure program integrity.

The SSA is making strides toward updating its information technology systems to help meet growing workload demands, but faces challenges with these modernization efforts—such as an ongoing need to refresh and adhere to its IT strategic plan and a continued reliance on legacy applications—and correcting internal weaknesses in information security.

The agency is moving toward centralized facilities management but hasn’t been very proactive in its efforts to consolidate offices to make things run more efficiently.

The GAO also found that the SSA lacks a long-term vision for its future. All of its current plans focus on the next five years rather than looking at long-term strategies for the agency’s service delivery model.

The GAO conducted the study because the SSA is responsible for providing benefits and services that affect nearly every American. In 2012, the SSA paid more than 62 million people more than $826 billion in Social Security retirement and disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income payments.  

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