THE INSPECTOR GENERAL
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS CLAIMED
BY THE ARIZONA DISABILITY
By conducting independent and objective audits, evaluations and investigations, we inspire public confidence in the integrity and security of SSA’s programs and operations and protect them against fraud, waste and abuse. We provide timely, useful and reliable information and advice to Administration officials, Congress and the public.
The Inspector General Act created independent audit and investigative units, called the Office of Inspector General (OIG). The mission of the OIG, as spelled out in the Act, is to:
Conduct and supervise independent and objective audits and investigations relating to agency programs and operations.
Promote economy, effectiveness, and efficiency within the agency.
Prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse in agency programs and operations.
Review and make recommendations regarding existing and proposed legislation and regulations relating to agency programs and operations.
Keep the agency head and the Congress fully and currently informed of problems in agency programs and operations.
To ensure objectivity, the IG Act empowers the IG with:
Independence to determine what reviews to perform.
Access to all information necessary for the reviews.
Authority to publish findings and recommendations based on the reviews.
We strive for continual improvement in SSA’s programs, operations and management by proactively seeking new ways to prevent and deter fraud, waste and abuse. We commit to integrity and excellence by supporting an environment that provides a valuable public service while encouraging employee development and retention and fostering diversity and innovation.
Date: March 8, 2010 Refer To:
To: Peter D. Spencer
From: Inspector General
Subject: Administrative Costs Claimed by the Arizona Disability Determination Services
Our objectives were to (1) evaluate the Arizona Disability Determination Services’
(AZ-DDS) internal controls over the accounting and reporting of administrative costs;
(2) determine whether costs claimed were allowable and funds were properly drawn; and (3) assess limited areas of the general security controls environment.
The Disability Insurance (DI) program, established under Title II of the Social Security Act (Act), provides benefits to wage earners and their families in the event the wage earner becomes disabled. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, established under Title XVI of the Act, provides benefits to financially needy individuals who are aged, blind, and/or disabled.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for implementing policies for the development of disability claims under the DI and SSI programs. Disability determinations under both DI and SSI are performed by disability determination services (DDS) in each State or other responsible jurisdiction. Such determinations are required to be performed in accordance with Federal law and underlying regulations. In carrying out its obligation, each DDS is responsible for determining claimants' disabilities and ensuring adequate evidence is available to support its determinations. To assist in making proper disability determinations, each DDS is authorized to purchase medical examinations, X-rays, and laboratory tests on a consultative basis to supplement evidence obtained from the claimants' physicians or other treating sources.
SSA reimburses the DDS for 100 percent of allowable reported expenditures up to its approved funding authorization. The DDS withdraws Federal funds through the Department of the Treasury's (Treasury) Automated Standard Application for Payments system to pay for program expenditures. Funds drawn down must comply with Federal regulations and intergovernmental agreements entered into by Treasury and States under the Cash Management Improvement Act of 1990. An advance or reimbursement for costs under the program must comply with Office of Management and Budget Circular A-87, Cost Principles for State, Local, and Indian Tribal Governments. At the end of each quarter of the fiscal year (FY), each DDS is required to submit a State Agency Report of Obligations for SSA Disability Programs (SSA 4513) to account for program disbursements and unliquidated obligations. The SSA-4513 reports expenditures and unliquidated obligations for Personnel Service Costs, Medical Costs, Indirect Costs, and All Other Non-Personnel Costs.
AZ-DDS is a component of Arizona Department of Economic Security (AZ-DES), Division of Benefits and Medical Eligibility. For FYs 2006 and 2007, AZ-DDS had about 227 employees and an authorized budget of $52.1 million for administrative costs. As of September 30, 2007, AZ-DDS had reported total disbursements of $50 million and unliquidated obligations of $2.1 million (see Appendix B).
RESULTS OF REVIEW
We found the costs claimed by AZ-DDS were generally allowable and funds were properly drawn. However, we determined that AZ-DDS and/or AZ-DES
• improperly paid an estimated $563,812 for missed consultative examinations (CE);
• could have saved an estimated $334,410 in CE costs incurred at remote locations or locally on weekends;
• improperly paid $134,506 for CE fees in excess of the maximum allowable rates;
• improperly charged $29,805 in costs that did not benefit SSA;
• overstated unliquidated obligations by approximately $1.8 million;
• did not allocate approximately $6,000 of State-wide indirect costs to SSA’s programs; and
• needed to improve controls to adequately protect sensitive information.
PAYMENTS FOR MISSED CEs
AZ DDS incorrectly paid fees for missed CE appointments. This occurred when
AZ-DDS contracted with CE providers to perform CEs at remote locations or locally on weekends. AZ-DDS staff stated that claimants generally received one reminder letter, and appointments were not canceled if the claimant did not respond to the reminder. AZ-DDS staff also stated that appointment cancellation information was not always communicated between staff and entered in the computer system timely, which caused missed appointments. Consequently, AZ-DDS paid CE providers for services they did not perform. Based on our review of a sample of 100 CE projects, we found that in 88 of the projects, AZ-DDS paid $26,470 for missed CE appointments. Based on our sample results, we estimate that SSA reimbursed AZ-DDS $563,812 for missed CE appointments (see Appendix C).
SSA has a no-pay policy for missed CE appointments. However, on a case-by-case basis, the DDS may request an exemption to the no-pay policy. To obtain an exemption, the DDS should work with the SSA Regional Office (RO) to document the situation and forward the request with supporting documentation to the Office of Disability Determinations (ODD) for approval. Our review found that AZ-DDS and the SSA RO did not obtain an exemption, as required.
SCHEDULING OF CEs
AZ-DDS has contracts with medical providers to perform CEs at remote locations and locally on weekends. These contracts specify the number and types of examinations that should be scheduled and performed. In addition, the medical providers are paid a fixed amount for each CE project regardless of the number of examinations scheduled. Therefore, to the extent possible, AZ-DDS should schedule the maximum number of examinations specified by the contracts.
Based on our review of a sample of 100 CE projects, we determined that AZ-DDS scheduled the maximum number of examinations for 59 of the projects. However, for 41 of the projects, AZ-DDS did not schedule the maximum number of appointments. For these 41 projects, AZ-DDS could have scheduled up to 255 CEs; however, it only scheduled 163 (64 percent). Had the additional 92 CEs been scheduled, AZ-DDS would have saved approximately $15,700 in CE costs. Based on our sample results, we estimate that AZ-DDS could have saved $334,410 in CEs (see Appendix C).
According to SSA policy, State agencies are expected to exercise reasonable care in expending funds required for making SSA disability determinations. These funds must be effectively and economically used in carrying out the provisions of the disability program. Our review disclosed that AZ-DDS did not always ensure it scheduled the maximum number of appointments allowed by the contracts. AZ-DDS staff agreed that CE project schedules were not always reviewed to ensure all appointments were filled.
CE PAYMENTS IN EXCESS OF THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE RATE
AZ-DDS improperly paid medical providers $134,506 for CEs in excess of the maximum rates paid by Federal or other agencies in the State. We compared AZ-DDS’ CE payments to the Medicare, Industrial Commission of Arizona, and Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System fee schedules and determined the maximum rate allowed under Federal regulations. As depicted in the table below, AZ-DDS’ payments to medical providers exceeded the allowable maximum rate for 6,426 CEs. Payments for these CEs totaled $541,615; however, the allowable payments were limited to $407,109.
FY Medical Services Actual Payments Maximum Payments Improper
2006 5,067 $402,874 $308,421 $94,453
2007 1,359 $138,741 $98,688 $40,053
Total 6,426 $541,615 $407,109 $134,506
Federal regulations require that each State determine the payment rates for Medical services necessary to make disability determinations. The rates may not exceed the highest rate paid by Federal or other agencies in the State for the same or similar type of service. The State is responsible for monitoring and overseeing the rates of payment for Medical services to ensure the rates do not exceed the highest rate paid by the Federal or other State agencies.
AZ-DDS staff stated that examinations conducted in hospitals had previously been subject to hospital fees in addition to standard rates, but it continued to pay hospital fees after they were no longer applicable. AZ-DDS indicated that it discontinued paying hospital fees in August 2009. In addition, AZ-DDS staff stated that some medical providers in rural areas were unwilling to accept the highest rate allowed. However, if AZ-DDS has difficulty obtaining specific examinations or tests, it is required to submit a written waiver request to the SSA RO. As such, AZ-DDS should work with SSA to determine whether it was necessary to exceed the highest allowable fees. If SSA
determines it was not necessary, SSA should consider appropriate action, such as instructing AZ-DDS to refund the excess CE payments and limit future CE payment rates.
REIMBURSEMENT FOR NON-SSA WORK
We found that AZ-DDS incorrectly charged medical expenditures, totaling $29,805, for Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS) applicants to SSA’s programs. AZ-DDS performs disability determinations for ALTCS applicants. While reviewing AZ-DDS medical costs, we found that AZ-DDS improperly charged CE and medical records expenses for ALTCS applicants to SSA. This occurred because AZ-DDS did not always verify whether medical costs were for ALTCS applicants before processing payment for medical invoices. As a result, SSA reimbursed AZ-DDS for unallowable medical costs applicable to non-SSA work. AZ-DDS agreed to improve controls to ensure medical costs for non-SSA work are charged to the correct fund.
According to SSA policy, if the DDS receives a request to make disability determinations for claims not related to SSA’s programs, the requesting agency bears the responsibility for the funding and staffing related to the non-SSA program work.
We found that AZ-DDS overestimated unliquidated obligations and did not review unliquidated obligations timely to properly deobligate funds that were no longer needed. As a result, AZ-DDS overstated unliquidated obligations by about $1.8 million for FY 2006. Since AZ-DDS did not remove the unliquidated obligations until after the end of the FY, SSA was unable to redirect these funds for other purposes. At the end of FY 2006, AZ-DDS’ estimated total unliquidated obligations were about $3.5 million. However, the valid unliquidated obligations should have only been about $1.7 million. As shown in the table below, the over-obligated funds consisted of Personnel, Medical, Indirect, and All Other Non-Personnel costs.
Overstated Unliquidated Obligations
Personnel Costs $886,885
Medical Costs $467,871
Indirect Costs $33,551
All Other Non-Personnel Costs $460,024
According to AZ-DDS staff, it overestimated the unliquidated obligations and did not review them monthly to determine whether they were valid. As a result, obligated funds that were no longer needed were not canceled, and necessary corrections were not reported to SSA timely. We reviewed the unliquidated obligation balance as of June 2009 and found that AZ-DDS took corrective actions to reduce them to zero.
According to SSA policy, valid unliquidated obligations should be supported by documents and records describing the nature of the obligations and supporting the amounts recorded. SSA policy further indicates that State agencies should review unliquidated obligations at least once each month and cancel those that are no longer valid.
IMPROPER ALLOCATION OF STATE-WIDE INDIRECT COSTS
We found that SSA reimbursed AZ-DES $10,205 of unallowable indirect costs from
July 2006 through June 2007. According to AZ-DES personnel, this occurred because adjustments to the estimated State-wide costs were not made after the actual costs were approved. As a result, AZ-DES improperly charged State-wide Indirect Costs to SSA's programs. We also found that AZ-DES undercharged SSA indirect costs of $16,365 from July 2007 through June 2008. This occurred because AZ-DES incorrectly applied the prior year rate to allocate current year State-wide Indirect Costs.
Period State-wide Indirect Costs Allocated Approved State-wide Indirect Costs
Improper Allocation of Indirect Costs
July 2006 – June 2007 $86,016 $54,189 $31,828
July 2007 – June 2008 $54,189 $103,472 ($49,284) ($16,365)
State-wide Indirect Costs are expenditures for services that benefit all departments in the State, including accounting, budgeting, and payroll from the Arizona General Accounting Office and State Treasurers. A State-wide Indirect Cost pool is used to allocate an equitable share of State-wide costs to all programs that benefit from these services. At the beginning of each State FY, AZ-DES uses an interim rate or prior year rate until a final rate for State-wide Indirect Costs is approved. SSA has no authority to reimburse States for the costs of central services unless such costs are included in an approved State-wide Cost Allocation Plan.
Our review found that AZ-DES needed to improve its controls to prevent any future incorrect allocations. AZ-DES agreed to correct these errors and make adjustments in a timely manner as soon as the approved rates become available.
RISK OF UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS TO SENSITIVE INFORMATION
Our review disclosed that AZ-DDS lacked physical security controls over personally identifiable information (PII) and the distribution of the office access key code at the
AZ-DDS office in Phoenix. We found that AZ-DDS did not keep sensitive records secured when cleaning services were provided during non-work hours or when claimants and medical providers were in the DDS office for CEs conducted on weekends. AZ-DDS did not practice a clean-desk policy, and shredding bins and office cabinets containing sensitive information were unlocked when there was no authorized individual present. AZ-DDS also did not limit the distribution of the office access key code to only those individuals who needed them. These weaknesses increased the risk of unauthorized access and loss of sensitive information.
According to SSA policy, if office cleaning is not performed during work hours, the DDS must take extra care to ensure documents containing PII are secured overnight, and the DDS should implement a clean-desk policy. Sensitive records awaiting destruction should be secured in locked bins or secured by other means to make the data unattainable to unauthorized personnel. Finally, possession of office keys should be limited to those individuals who must have them.
AZ-DDS agreed to take corrective actions to ensure sensitive documents are secured overnight and to limit the distribution of the office access key code to only those individuals who need them.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
We found the costs claimed by AZ-DDS were generally allowable and funds were properly drawn. However, AZ-DDS needed to improve controls over the (1) payment for missed CE appointments, (2) scheduling of CE appointments at remote locations or locally on weekends, (3) payment of CE fees in excess of the maximum allowable rates, (4) payment for non-SSA work, (5) overestimates and timely review of unliquidated obligations, and (6) allocation of State-wide indirect costs. Finally, AZ-DDS needed to improve controls to adequately protect sensitive information.
We recommend that SSA:
1. Instruct AZ-DDS to refund $563,812 in unallowable costs paid to medical providers for missed CE appointments or request an exemption to the no-pay policy.
2. Ensure AZ-DDS schedules the maximum number of CEs, to the extent possible, in accordance with the contract; or modify its contract to pay medical providers based on the actual number of CEs scheduled.
3. Determine whether it was necessary for AZ-DDS to exceed the highest allowable rates to obtain CE services. If SSA determines it was not necessary, SSA should consider appropriate action, such as instructing AZ-DDS to refund $134,506 in excess CE payments and limit future CE payment rates.
4. Instruct AZ-DDS to refund $29,805 in unallowable costs for non-SSA work performed by AZ-DDS.
5. Ensure AZ-DDS improves controls over its estimates of unliquidated obligations.
6. Ensure AZ-DDS monitors and properly adjusts unliquidated obligations timely.
7. Ensure AZ-DES improves controls over the allocation of State-wide Indirect Costs.
8. Ensure AZ-DDS implements a clean-desk policy, keeps all sensitive documents secure, and limits the distribution of access key codes to only those individuals who need them.
SSA agreed with all our recommendations. AZ-DES agreed with Recommendations 3 through 8 and disagreed with Recommendations 1 and 2. However, AZ-DES stated it is willing to work with SSA to resolve Recommendation 1. In response to Recommendation 2, AZ-DES stated that it was exercising reasonable care when expending funds for CE appointments.
See Appendices D and E for the full text of SSA’s and AZ-DES’ comments.
MEDICAL CONSULTANTS’ CONVERSION FROM CONTRACTORS TO EMPLOYEES
AZ-DDS medical consultants (MC) review, evaluate, and interpret claimant medical records and work with the disability examiners to make disability determinations. In December 2000, nine AZ-DDS MCs who were contractors petitioned the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to determine their employment status for Federal employment tax purposes. Based on the information that was presented to the IRS for the nine MCs, the IRS determined that MCs should be AZ-DDS employees because AZ-DDS retained the right to direct and control their services performed. Subsequently, AZ-DDS questioned whether its MCs needed to comply with Arizona liability insurance requirements. According to AZ-DES staff, Arizona requires that all contractors who are licensed or certified have professional liability insurance to protect the State against losses that may occur if lawsuits are filed against the contractors. As a result of these two issues, in May 2005, all AZ-DDS contracted MCs were converted to employees.
AZ-DDS’ decision to convert MCs from contractors to employees increased MC costs by approximately $2.7 million. As shown in the following chart, MC salaries and related expenses in FYs 2006 and 2007 were approximately $7.4 million compared to $4.7 million we estimate would have been paid to MC contractors.
FY Number of Cases Completed Amount Paid to MCs as Employees Amount Paid if MCs Were Contractors
We also found that SSA did not require that States obtain professional liability insurance for MCs who were contractors. According to SSA policy, the Federal government is responsible for defending court challenges to disability determinations and related procedures for making determinations. The State agency is not responsible for defending in court any disability determination made.
Given the significant increase in MC costs, SSA should evaluate AZ-DDS’ employment relationship with its MCs to ensure their services are provided in the most cost-effective manner. In response to our draft report, SSA stated that it has limited capacity to set State employment procedures. However, AZ-DES stated it is willing to work with SSA to determine if MCs can provide services in a more cost effective manner.
All AZ-DDS employees received two types of performance payments in FYs 2006 and 2007. One was paid based on AZ-DES’ performance, while the other was based on AZ-DDS’ performance. Neither of the performance payments was based on individual employee performance. The total performance payments made to AZ-DDS employees was $753,843.
Arizona law provides for performance payments of 2.5 to 2.75 percent of salaries to nearly all State employees. The performance payments are distributed to each AZ-DES employee if AZ-DES meets or exceeds prescribed performance measures. In FYs 2006 and 2007, all AZ-DDS employees received the State-wide performance payment totaling $382,780. Arizona also has a performance-based incentive program in which State agencies may participate. AZ-DDS implemented the Performance Incentive Pilot Program (PIPP) for all AZ-DDS employees to reward teams of employees based on increased team performance. All AZ-DDS employees received the same incentive payment amount. All AZ-DDS employees received the PIPP performance payment totaling $371,063 for FYs 2006 and 2007.
According to Office of Management and Budget Circular A-87, Federal awards must be consistent with policies, regulations, and procedures that apply uniformly to Federal awards and other activities of the governmental unit. In addition, according to SSA’s Monetary Awards policy, monetary awards are granted to SSA employees to recognize accomplishments of employees as individuals and as members of groups or teams.
Cash awards are based on appraisals of individual performance and individual contributions to the group or team’s achievement. Finally, only employees in good standing are eligible for monetary awards. As such, SSA should consider developing policy for the reimbursement of performance payments to DDS employees.
Patrick P. O’Carroll, Jr.
APPENDIX A – Acronyms
APPENDIX B – Scope and Methodology
APPENDIX C – Sampling Methodology, Results, and Estimates
APPENDIX D – Social Security Administration Comments
APPENDIX E – Arizona Department of Economic Security Comments
APPENDIX F – OIG Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments
Act Social Security Act
ALTCS Arizona Long Term Care System
Ariz. ALS Arizona Advance Legislative Service
AZ-DDS Arizona Disability Determination Services
AZ-DES Arizona Department of Economic Security
CE Consultative Examination
C.F.R Code of Federal Regulations
DDS Disability Determination Services
DI Disability Insurance
Form SSA-4513 State Agency Report of Obligations for SSA Disability Programs
FY Fiscal Year
IRS Internal Revenue Service
MC Medical Consultant
ODD Office of Disability Determinations
PII Personally Identifiable Information
PIPP Performance Incentive Pilot Program
POMS Program Operations Manual System
Pub. L. No. Public Law Number
RO Regional Office
SSA Social Security Administration
SSI Supplemental Security Income
Treasury Department of the Treasury
U.S.C. United States Code
Scope and Methodology
We reviewed the administrative costs reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA) by the Arizona Disability Determination Services (AZ-DDS) on the State Agency Report of Obligations for SSA Disability Programs (Form SSA-4513) for Federal Fiscal Years (FY) 2006 and 2007. As of September 30, 2007, AZ-DDS reported the following disbursements and unliquidated obligations on its Forms SSA-4513.
Category FY 2006 FY 2007
Personnel Costs $13,589,648 $15,029,741
Medical Costs 6,950,581 7,327,190
Indirect Costs 1,236,325 1,257,208
All Other Non Personnel Costs 2,246,681 2,400,011
Total Disbursements $24,023,235 $26,014,150
Unliquidated Obligations 340,478 1,746,398
Total Obligations $24,363,713 $27,760,548
To accomplish our objective, we:
• Reviewed applicable Federal laws and regulations, pertinent sections of SSA’s
Program Operations Manual System, and other criteria relevant to security controls, administrative costs claimed by AZ-DDS, and drawdowns of SSA program funds.
• Reviewed State laws, regulations, and policies pertinent to performance pay.
• Interviewed employees from the SSA regional office, AZ-DDS, and Arizona Department of Economic Security (AZ-DES).
• Reviewed the Single Audit Reports for the State of Arizona related to the 2-year period October 1, 2005 through September 30, 2007.
• Obtained an understanding of the internal control structure to plan the audit and determine the nature, timing, and extent of the tests to be performed.
• Obtained data from AZ-DES to support amounts reported on the SSA-4513 and tested the reliability of the data by comparing disbursements, by line item totals, with the amounts reported on the SSA-4513.
• Reconciled the amount of Federal funds drawn for support of program operations to the allowable expenditures reported on the SSA-4513.
• Examined the administrative expenditures claimed by AZ-DDS for Personnel, Medical, Indirect, and All Other Non-Personnel Costs in FYs 2006 and 2007.
• Verified indirect costs for FYs 2006 and 2007 based on the approved indirect cost allocation plan.
• Conducted a limited examination of AZ-DDS’ general security controls environment.
We determined the electronic data used in our audit were sufficiently reliable to achieve our audit objectives. We assessed the reliability of the electronic data by reconciling them with the costs claimed on the Form SSA-4513. We also conducted detailed audit testing on selected data elements from the electronic files.
We performed audit work at AZ-DDS and AZ-DES in Phoenix, Arizona, and the San Francisco Regional Office in Richmond, California. We conducted fieldwork between September 2008 and September 2009. We conducted our audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives.
Our sampling methodology included the three general areas of costs as reported on Form SSA-4513: (1) Personnel, (2) Medical, and (3) All Other Non-Personnel Costs. We obtained computerized data from AZ-DES and AZ-DDS for FYs 2006 and 2007 for statistical sampling.
We randomly selected 1 pay period in FY 2007 and reviewed a random sample of
50 personnel and all 50 medical consultants. We tested payroll records to ensure
AZ-DDS accurately paid its employees and adequately supported these payments.
We reviewed 100 medical cost items. Using a stratified random sample, we selected 50 batched medical payment records from each FY. Within each batch, we selected the first item listed on the batch. We distributed the sample items between medical evidence of record and consultative examinations based on the proportional distribution of the total medical costs for each year.
All Other Non-Personnel Costs
We selected 100 All Other Non-Personnel Cost items. Using a stratified random sample, we selected 50 batched payment records for each FY. Within each batch, we selected the first invoice payment to review. Before selecting the sample items, we sorted the transactions into the following categories: (1) Contracted Costs,
(2) Electronic Data Processing Maintenance, (3) Equipment Purchases,
(4) Communication, (5) Applicant Travel, (6) AZ-DDS Travel, (7) Supplies, and
(8) Miscellaneous. We then distributed the sample items between categories based on the proportional distribution of the total Non-Personnel costs for each year.
Sampling Methodology, Results, and Estimates
We obtained a data file from Arizona Disability Determination Services (AZ-DDS) containing consultative examinations (CE) for contracted CE providers who travel to remote locations or worked locally on weekends to perform a group of examinations (CE projects). These CE projects accounted for $5,919,610, or 50 percent, of the $11,836,908 paid to CE providers for CEs conducted from October 1, 2005 through September 30, 2007. From this file, we identified a population of 2,130 CE projects likely to have contained errors. The payments made to CE providers for the 2,130 projects were approximately $2.7 million.
We randomly selected 100 CE projects for review. For each sampled item, we reviewed supporting documentation to ensure the amount paid to the CE providers agreed with the contract terms and determined the number of missed and unscheduled appointments. Finally, using the supporting documentation, we calculated the cost of the missed and unscheduled appointments. The following tables provide details of our sample results and statistical projections.
Table 1: Population and Sample Size Number
Population Size 2,130
Sample Size 100
Table 2: Missed Appointments Number Amount
Sample Results 88 $26,470
Point Estimate 1,874 $563,812
Projection - Lower Limit 1,735 $502,877
Projection - Upper Limit 1,977 $624,747
Note: All projections are at the 90-percent confidence level.
Table 3: Unscheduled Appointments Number Amount
Sample Results 41 $15,700
Point Estimate 873 $334,410
Projection - Lower Limit 701 $258,364
Projection - Upper Limit 1,054 $410,456
Note: All projections are at the 90-percent confidence level.
Social Security Administration Comments
Date: Refer To: S2D9G4
To: Inspector General
From: Regional Commissioner
Subject: Audit of Administrative Costs Claimed by the Arizona Disability Determination Services (A-09-09-19020)--REPLY
Thank you for the opportunity to review the draft report of your audit of the Arizona Disability Determination Services. Per your request, we are providing an attachment with specific written comments for each of the eight recommendations contained in the draft report.
We appreciate the work performed by the OIG staff in this region. They display consistent dedication to improving the fiscal efficiency of our DDSs.
If you have any questions regarding our comments, please call me. If your staff have any questions, they may call Gus Villalobos in the Center for Disability at (510) 970-8297.
Peter D. Spencer
Regional Office Comments on the Arizona DDS Draft Audit Report
Recommendation 1: Instruct AZ-DDS to refund $563,812 in unallowable costs paid to medical providers for missed CE appointments or request an exemption to the no-pay policy.
Comment: We will seek an exemption to the no-pay policy and ensure the DDS is doing what they reasonably can to avoid missed CE appointments. We generally support the remote CE vendor process used by the AZ DDS because it saves the cost of applicant travel and it provides excellent customer service to AZ’s most vulnerable residents.
Recommendation 2: Ensure AZ-DDS schedules the maximum number of CEs, to the extent possible, in accordance with the contract; or modify its contract to pay medical providers based on the actual number of CEs scheduled.
Comment: We agree with the recommendation that the AZ DDS maximize CE scheduling with providers traveling to remote locations, ensuring all CE projects’ appointments are thoroughly reviewed. We would like to see the State response before deciding on a reasonable resolution, but we also want to avoid creating a policy that results in the DDS delaying claims until the maximum number of CEs is scheduled.
Recommendation 3: Determine whether it was necessary for AZ-DDS to exceed the highest allowable rates to obtain CE services. If SSA determines it was not necessary, SSA should consider appropriate action, such as instructing AZ-DDS to refund $134,506 in excess CE payments and limit future CE payment rates.
Comment: We agree with the auditor finding that the AZ DDS should not exceed maximum allowable rates for CE services. We would like to see the State response before deciding on a reasonable resolution to the finding.
Recommendation 4: Instruct AZ-DDS to refund $29,805 in unallowable costs for non-SSA work performed by AZ-DDS.
Comment: We agree with this recommendation:
Recommendation 5: Ensure AZ-DDS improves controls over its estimates of unliquidated obligations.
Comment: We agree with this recommendation.
Recommendation 6: Ensure AZ-DDS monitors and properly adjusts unliquidated obligations timely.
Comment: We agree with this recommendation.
Recommendation 7: Ensure AZ-DES improves controls over the allocation of State-wide Indirect Costs.
Comment: We agree with this recommendation.
Recommendation 8: Ensure AZ-DDS implements a clean-desk policy, keeps all sensitive documents secure, and limits the distribution of access key codes to only those individuals who need them.
Comment: We agree with this recommendation.
Medical Consultants’ Conversion from Contractors to Employees
Comment: We understand the intent of this finding requesting SSA evaluate the AZ DDS employment relationship with its MCs is based on ensuring their services are provided in a cost-effective manner. However, the decision to convert the MCs to State employees resulted from a State-directed decision based on Arizona procurement regulations. As a matter of the Federal/State relationship, it is the State’s responsibility to ensure qualified personnel and oversee their compensation (see POMS DI 39518.005). Because SSA has limited capacity to set State employment procedures, we request this issue be omitted from the final report.
Comment: The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) applies Department-wide performance pay to employees based on Agency performance standards. While the PESOS program in the AZ DDS is tailored to specific DDS performance measures, it is not paid in addition to the DES performance pay program as suggested in the draft report. The monies paid to DDS employees are consistent with DES performance pay policies. SSA will review the DDSA PESOS program performance standards to ensure they are aligned with SSA DDS performance requirements.
Arizona Department of Economic Security Comments
OIG Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments
James J. Klein, Director, San Francisco Audit Division
Joseph Robleto, Audit Manager
In addition to those named above:
Vickie Choy, Auditor in Charge
Manfei Lau, Senior Auditor
For additional copies of this report, please visit our web site at www.socialsecurity.gov/oig or contact the Office of the Inspector General’s Public Affairs Staff Assistant at (410) 965-4518. Refer to Common Identification Number
Commissioner of Social Security
Office of Management and Budget, Income Maintenance Branch
Chairman and Ranking Member, Committee on Ways and Means
Chief of Staff, Committee on Ways and Means
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Social Security
Majority and Minority Staff Director, Subcommittee on Social Security
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on the Budget, House of Representatives
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives
Chairman and Ranking Minority, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations,
House of Representatives
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Finance
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Social Security Pensions and Family Policy
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Senate Special Committee on Aging
Social Security Advisory Board
Overview of the Office of the Inspector General
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is comprised of an Office of Audit (OA), Office of Investigations (OI), Office of the Counsel to the Inspector General (OCIG), Office of External Relations (OER), and Office of Technology and Resource Management (OTRM). To ensure compliance with policies and procedures, internal controls, and professional standards, the OIG also has a comprehensive Professional Responsibility and Quality Assurance program.
Office of Audit
OA conducts financial and performance audits of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) programs and operations and makes recommendations to ensure program objectives are achieved effectively and efficiently. Financial audits assess whether SSA’s financial statements fairly present SSA’s financial position, results of operations, and cash flow. Performance audits review the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of SSA’s programs and operations. OA also conducts short-term management reviews and program evaluations on issues of concern to SSA, Congress, and the general public.
Office of Investigations
OI conducts investigations related to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in SSA programs and operations. This includes wrongdoing by applicants, beneficiaries, contractors, third parties, or SSA employees performing their official duties. This office serves as liaison to the Department of Justice on all matters relating to the investigation of SSA programs and personnel. OI also conducts joint investigations with other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies.
Office of the Counsel to the Inspector General
OCIG provides independent legal advice and counsel to the IG on various matters, including statutes, regulations, legislation, and policy directives. OCIG also advises the IG on investigative procedures and techniques, as well as on legal implications and conclusions to be drawn from audit and investigative material. Also, OCIG administers the Civil Monetary Penalty program.
Office of External Relations
OER manages OIG’s external and public affairs programs, and serves as the principal advisor on news releases and in providing information to the various news reporting services. OER develops OIG’s media and public information policies, directs OIG’s external and public affairs programs, and serves as the primary contact for those seeking information about OIG. OER prepares OIG publications, speeches, and presentations to internal and external organizations, and responds to Congressional correspondence.
Office of Technology and Resource Management
OTRM supports OIG by providing information management and systems security. OTRM also coordinates OIG’s budget, procurement, telecommunications, facilities, and human resources. In addition, OTRM is the focal point for OIG’s strategic planning function, and the development and monitoring of performance measures. In addition, OTRM receives and assigns for action allegations of criminal and administrative violations of Social Security laws, identifies fugitives receiving benefit payments from SSA, and provides technological assistance to investigations.