Justice and Law Enforcement:

Procedures To Safeguard Social Security Beneficiary Records Can Still Be Improved

HRD-81-157: Published: Sep 30, 1981. Publicly Released: Oct 30, 1981.

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(202) 512-4800
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In June 1978, GAO issued a report which identified security weaknesses in the protection of beneficiary records maintained in field offices under the stewardship of the Social Security Administration (SSA). GAO made nine recommendations directed toward correcting the weaknesses, and SSA began action to correct the deficiencies. Subsequently, GAO was requested to determine what actions had been taken to implement the recommendations.

As of September 1981, two of the recommendations had been implemented while the other seven were in various stages of implementation. After GAO pointed out the security weaknesses, SSA established a systems security staff which would have had the authority to implement a strong security program for maintaining beneficiary records. However, in January 1979, the systems security staff was returned to the position of having to obtain the cooperation of several SSA operating components to develop and implement an adequate security program which would protect beneficiary records.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration to give priority to implementing the June 1978 recommendations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) to evaluate the current role of the systems security staff and the need for an aggressive security program to protect beneficiary records and, if deemed necessary to achieve such a security program, establish an office within SSA with the primary responsibility, capability, and authority for developing, establishing, and maintaining an aggressive ongoing security program for the protection of beneficiary records.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

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