Social Security:

Production Initiatives in OHA's Region V Comply With Law and Guidelines

HRD-91-36BR: Published: Dec 21, 1990. Publicly Released: Dec 21, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the productivity initiatives implemented by the Chicago region's chief administrative law judge (ALJ) in the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA), to determine the propriety of those procedures under OHA guidelines and the Administrative Procedure Act.

GAO found that: (1) to increase productivity, the Chicago regional chief set up a project to identify Medicare appeals that he could approve without a hearing and used retired ALJ to hear appeals; (2) those productivity initiatives and the regional offices's procedures for selecting, assigning, and reviewing Medicare appeals complied with OHA guidelines and the Administrative Procedure Act; (3) during fiscal year 1989, the Chicago regional chief handled 80 percent of the appeals approved without a hearing, while the national average for ALJ approval of appeals without a hearing was 28 percent; (4) OHA procedures for calculating ALJ average dispositions included regional chief and retired ALJ decisions, but did not include them as resources assigned to the hearing office, resulting in an overstatement of hearing office productivity; and (5) the inflated average dispositions had little effect on the allocation of award money, since management used average dispositions per ALJ to rank hearing offices.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SSA concurred with GAO and will count the regional chief and retired ALJ as resources in calculating hearing office productivity.

    Recommendation: To fairly recognize the work done by individuals and offices, the Commissioner of Social Security should direct OHA, when calculating the productivity of its hearing offices, to count the regional chief and retired ALJ as resources for the hearing offices credited with their cases until such time as a redesigned system of productivity measures is implemented.

    Agency Affected: Social Security Administration

 

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