Apr 9, 2016

Another Expensive Report Destined To Gather Dust

     Several researchers at Mathematica has done a study for Social Security on Employment Experiences of Young Adults and High Earners Who Receive Social Security Disability Benefits: Findings from Semistructed Interviews. The report is 131 pages. It certainly cost Social Security tens of thousands of dollars, maybe hundreds of thousands. There's nothing wrong with the report. I'm sure the researchers did a competent job. It's just that it's worthless. It repeats what everyone who's looked at the situation already knew. In the end, they recommend that Social Security offer case managers or community liaisons to assist claimants who want to return to work and, of course, they recommend more research. I think that new employees of Beltway Bandits like Mathematica must learn on their first day at work that every report they produce must include a self-serving recommendation for more research.
     Social Security doesn't have the money for case managers. The agency does have enough money to waste on this sort of pointless research, however. Even though it's worthless, the research is relatively inexpensive compared to what it would cost to actually do something worthwhile.  Paying Mathematica for a useless report allows Social Security to pretend that it's doing something about returning disability recipients to work. 
     I don't want to be too critical of Social Security. Nothing they would do if they had the money would make that much difference anyway but they don't have the money to do anything other than pay Beltway Bandits for useless reports.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I also don't like to see waste. Political needs drive the commissioning of such research. Everybody who studies this issue already knows what would make some difference and what would not.

Congressional republicans who falsely believe a lot of disability beneficiaries could work drag SSA officials in to testify every so often regarding what they are doing to get more people off disability benefits. SSA dutifully shows up and says we commissioned this report, and by the way this is what would work and how much it would cost to make a difference. Congressional republicans respond with some sound bytes that sound great to their tea party constituents and promptly ignore or reject any extra funding proposal that would actually implement the proposals. Similar deal with the backlog. My recollection is that the only thing they did at least partially fund was the extra CDRs and fraud investigation units.