New Social Security anti-fraud office in the works under reorganization

The Social Security Administration will bring its fraud and oversight sub-components under one roof this fall, as part of the Trump administration’s government reorganization plan.

In an Aug. 8 memo to senior staff, acting SSA Commissioner Nancy Berryhill announced the agency would create, by Oct. 1, a new deputy-commissioner-level Office of Analytics, Review and Oversight. The agency reorganization would move six oversight offices from three departments into the new division. According to the memo, the following offices will be folded into OARO:

  1. Office of Budget, Finance, Quality, and Management:
    •  Office of Anti-Fraud Programs
    • Office of Business Improvement
    • Office of Quality Review
    • Audit Liaison Staff
  2. Office of Disability Adjudication and Review:
    • Office of Appellate Operations
  3. Office of the Commissioner:
    • Analytics Center of Excellence

“Integration of these organizations with complementary missions provides an opportunity to mature our anti-fraud efforts, institutionalize and foster data analysis in our programs, improve coordination to provide oversight of the disability adjudication system, and communicate a unified message within and outside the agency,” Berryhill said. “This restructuring presents an opportunity to maximize our resources and better organize efforts to explore and develop the future of analyses and oversight.”

In the memo, Berryhill said Pat Jonas will serve as OARO deputy commissioner, and Amy Thompson will serve as OARO acting assistant deputy commissioner.

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In July 2017, the SSA Office of the Inspector General reported that the agency issued $171 million in improper payments to 2,000 recipients with multiple cross-referenced Social Security numbers.

News of the SSA reorganization memo was first reported by Social Security News. An agency spokesman confirmed the details of the memo to Federal News Radio on Aug. 11.

SSA sent the reorganization memo just two months after the independent agency announced it would offer early retirement separation incentives to most of its eligible workforce by Sept. 1, according to documents obtained by Government Executive. To qualify, SSA workers must have at least 20 years of agency service, and must be over 50. At least 15,000 of SSA’s 62,000 employees would meet the criteria for early retirement.

All federal agencies must submit their plans to downsize their workforce to the Office of Management and Budget by Sept. 15.

SSA implemented a hiring freeze in 2011 and cut most training and travel expenses. The agency also offered voluntary early outs to about 9,000 employees in 2012. Nearly 11,000 employees left the agency between fiscal 2011 and 2013.

Back in March, American Federation of Government Employees Council 220, the union that represents more than 29,000 SSA field operations and phone service center employees, warned that the agency could potentially furlough its workforce five days for every 1 percent cut from its administrative budget.

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