We’ve posted our Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Work Plan online, but we wanted to take a moment to explain what exactly that plan is, and how we create it. Our Office of Audit employees are always looking for and thinking about ways to help the Social Security Administration improve upon its programs, operations, and customer service. Throughout the year, our employees brainstorm, research, and solicit input from others on what issues we should address during the next year.
Who do we ask for input? We meet with SSA managers and executives, who help us identify areas where we can best serve their needs. We coordinate relevant audit topics with other Federal agencies. We regularly discuss areas of concern or interest with Members of Congress and their staffs. We collaborate and share information with our Office of Investigations, to identify fraud trends that may be the result of program or system vulnerabilities that we can address in an audit. Finally, we sometimes take ideas from SSA employees and public citizens who write to us with their concerns.
That’s the initial stage of the planning process that results in the Annual Work Plan, which is a summary and brief description of the audits the OIG plans to perform over the following year, and the issues those audits will address.
The Annual Work Plan is designed to address SSA’s top management challenges, which we determine and report to the Congress each year. This year, we’ve identified these management challenges:
- Reduce Improper Payments and Increase Overpayment Recoveries
- Improve Customer Service
- Strengthen the Integrity and Protection of the Social Security Number
- Reduce the Hearings Backlog and Prevent its Recurrence
- Improve the Timeliness and Quality of the Disability Process
- Invest in Information Technology Infrastructure to Support Current and Future Workloads
- Improve Transparency and Accountability
- Strengthen Strategic and Tactical Planning
In all, our employees come up with about 500 ideas within these broad issue areas, that they will discuss at an annual work planning conference. There, OIG senior staff, directors, and managers develop, debate, and analyze these topics. Based on many factors, like resources, staffing, workloads, and determination of the most critical or time-sensitive issues, our audit management makes the final selection of about 100 audits that make up the Annual Work Plan.
Of course, sometimes we have to add reviews during the year that aren’t in the Work Plan. Emerging concerns, congressional interest, and SSA requests require that we stay flexible so we can adapt to address those needs.
You can read the entire Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Work Plan at this link. Please feel free to comment on the Plan or any audit topics in general.