WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Member Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL) today delivered the following opening statement at a Social Security Subcommittee hearing entitled “Protecting Social Security from Waste, Fraud, and Abuse.”
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Good morning and welcome to today’s hearing on protecting Social Security from waste, fraud, and abuse.
“Today we will hear from the Social Security Inspector General on what he sees as the big challenges facing Social Security and where Social Security can do a better job of protecting taxpayer dollars.
“For those who may not know, Mr. O’Carroll has served as Social Security’s Inspector General for the past 12 years and will be retiring at the end of the month. Under his leadership, the Office of Inspector General has:
– engaged in a number of anti-fraud initiatives including the expansion of the Cooperative Disability Investigations units;
-overseen investigations that have led to the recovery and savings of hundreds of millions of trust fund dollars and the conviction of hundreds of crooks; and
-protected Social Security employees from threats of violence against employees and facilities.
“Mr. O’Carroll, thank you for your service and congratulations on your well-earned retirement.
“As you know well hardworking taxpayers fund the Social Security Administration and they rightly expect that Social Security will do all it can to prevent waste, fraud and abuse. So when Americans hear and read in the news stories about hundreds of millions of dollars of fraud in Puerto Rico and New York, or the agency spending over $300 million on an IT project that has yet to work, you can’t blame them for asking questions. Sometimes Social Security’s track record doesn’t inspire confidence.
“As Members of this Subcommittee, it is our job to make sure that Social Security is spending their money in a way that doesn’t violate the taxpayer’s trust by paying benefits to those trying to cheat the system or wasting funds on projects that don’t work. As the longest-serving Inspector General for the SSA, Mr. O’Carroll knows all about the challenges the agency faces that put tax dollars at risk.
“For example, and as many of you know, this Subcommittee has raised concerns over the years about Social Security’s long term strategic planning. Today we will hear that Social Security still doesn’t have a plan that includes specific, measurable goals or outlines a strategy to make sure Americans get the service they expect and deserve from Social Security. And this is after they spent $1.5 million on contractors to help them.
“Social Security faces some real challenges that I’m afraid are only going to get worse over time and the representative payee program is one of them. A recent study by the Institute of Medicine raised serious questions about Social Security’s ability to decide if someone needs a representative payee. Earlier this year, the Social Security Advisory Board also raised serious concerns about this program.
“Last fall, the Bipartisan Budget Act included the biggest changes to Social Security since 1983 and some additional tools to help fight fraud. This includes expanding Cooperative Disability Investigations Units to cover every state and new and harsher penalties for those who attempt to defraud Social Security. These tools along with others are a step in the right direction when it comes to protecting taxpayer dollars.
“Mr. O’Carroll, thank you for being here today. Thank you again for your service. I look forward to hearing your testimony.”