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Bipartisan Board Urges More Transparency and Better Use of Evidence in Decisions to Close Social Security Field Offices

June 8, 2020

Bipartisan Board Urges More Transparency and Better Use of Evidence in Decisions to Close Social Security Field Offices

June 8, 2020
Washington, DC – Today, the Social Security Advisory Board issued its latest report, Decisions Regarding Field Office Closures, the first paper in a series examining Social Security’s service to the public.

Throughout Social Security’s history, the public has relied on services provided through local Social Security offices. In its conclusion, the Board urges Social Security to clarify its decision-making process, increase transparency, and involve the public in its deliberations about field office closures. In this paper, the Board:

  1. Describes the history of the Social Security field office network, as well as the agency’s phone and online services.
  2. Reviews Social Security’s response to repeated Congressional concerns about the agency’s process for deciding to close field offices.
  3. Addresses the implications of Social Security’s decisions in the context of recent research that analyzes the impact of field office closures on the quality of and public’s access to Social Security’s services.

Board Chair Kim Hildred, said:

“Commissioner of Social Security Andrew Saul is committed to improving customer service. To achieve this goal, the Board urges Social Security to initiate a data-driven and evidence-based approach to monitor the quality and accessibility of services provided across its different channels, while taking into account the effect of changes on the distribution of services provided across population groups, especially the most vulnerable. Social Security should also engage the public when evaluating changes to service delivery as Congress has long requested. The Board is committed to supporting the Commissioner, as well as Congress and the Office of Management and Budget, in the advancement of these efforts.”

 

The Board’s mission is to provide the President, Congress, and the Commissioner of Social Security advice and guidance with respect to matters of policy and administration of the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income programs.