oversight

Workers' Compensation: The Impact of 1984 Amendments on the Longshore Program

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-03-08.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

-1-1-*1*..1--.--




 M;t rc*h 1!NO
                   W O RKERS’
                   COMPENSATIO N
                   The Impac t of 1984
                   Amendments on the
                   Longshore Program


                                   141106
      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20648

      Human Resources    Division

      B-238155

      March 8,199O

      The Honorable Austin J. Murphy
      Chairman, Subcommittee on
        Labor Standards
      Committee on Education and Labor
      House of Representatives

      The Honorable George Miller
      House of Representatives

      On December 23,1988, you requested that we review the Longshore and
      Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act Amendments of 1984 (P.L. 98-426).
      In particular, you asked us to determine whether the applicable amend-
      ments were effective in expediting or improving the processing of claims
      involving occupationally induced diseases.

      The 1984 amendments increased the permanent membership of the Ben-
      efits Review Board (RRB) from three to five and authorized the Secretary
      of Labor to appoint up to four administrative law judges as temporary
      members. This expansion of RRB was designed to expedite case process-
      ing and to reduce the backlog in cases awaiting hearings or appeals at
      BRB. The amendments also: (1) extended the statute of limitations for
      filing occupational disease claims, (2) clarified what wage rates were to
      be used in computing benefits for retirees who are victims of occupa-
      tional diseases, (3) changed the provisions concerning eligibility for sur-
      vivor benefits, and (4) extended benefit coverage for retirees.

      Overall, our work at three Labor district offices-San Francisco, Boston,
      and Jacksonville (Florida)-indicated    that the amendments have not
      reduced average case processing time or the backlog of cases at BRB.
      Also, employers and claimants continue to dispute many other issues,
      such as the cause and extent of injuries and who is the liable employer
      when employees have worked for more than one employer. Employers
      routinely contest claims involving occupational diseases and seldom pro-
      vide benefits voluntarily. In addition, at the offices we visited, the
      majority of claims filed since the 1984 amendments are still pending res-
      olution Labor officials told us that most of the cases were pending
      either because the attorneys representing the parties were still develop-
      ing evidence or they were awaiting resolution from third parties, such as
      asbestos manufacturers.

      We are providing additional information concerning the BRB operation in
      a separate report on the Black Lung Program. We decided to address the


      Page 1                                  GAO/HRD-90-76BR   Workers’   Compensation
    B-238165




    BRB issues in another report because (1) BRB is responsible for adjudicat-
    ing claims under both the Longshore Act and the Black Lung Benefits
    Act and (2) the major BRB work loads and backlog involve black lung
    claims.

    This report summarizes the results of our work, on which we briefed
    your staff on November 2, 1989. It includes information on the

l claims filing and appeals process (pp. 10 to 1 l),
. extent of voluntary compensation and resolutions (pp. 12 to 14)
. benefits of the 1984 amendments (pp. 15 to 16),
l processing times on appeals (pp. 17 to IS), and
l recordkeeping practices at district offices (pp. 19 to 20).

    We did not obtain written comments on this report from Labor. How-
    ever, we did discuss its contents with agency officials and incorporated
    their views where appropriate.

    Unless you publicly announce its contents earlier, we plan no further
    distribution of this report until 30 days from its issue date. At that time,
    we will send copies to other interested congressional committees and the
    Secretary of Labor. We also will make copies available to others on
    request.

    Please call me on (202) 275-1793 if you or your staff have any questions
    about this briefing report. Other major contributors to the report are
    listed in appendix I.




    Franklin Frazier
    Director, Income Security Issues
      (Disability and Welfare)




    Page 2                                   GAO/HRD-90.76BR   Workers’   Compensation
Page 3   GAO/HRD-YO-76BR   Workers’   Compensation
Cbntents


LeUer                                                                                                      1

Workers’                                                                                                  6
Compensation: The       Study Objective
                        Scope and Methodology
                                                                                                           6
                                                                                                           8
Impact of 1984          Claims Filing and Appeals Process                                                 11
Amendments on the       Few Voluntary Compensations and Resolutions at District                           12
                            Offices
Longshore Program       1984 Amendments Helpful in Some Areas                                             15
                        Lengthy Processing Times on Appeals, Particularly at                              17
                            BRB
                        Recordkeeping at District Offices Needs Improvement                               19

Abpendix I                                                                                            22
Major Contributors to
T&s Briefing Report
Tables                  Table 1: Status of Occupational Disease Claims at San                         14
                            Francisco and Jacksonville District Offices Since
                            1984 Amendments
                        Table 2: Average Processing Time at Each Adjudication                         18
                            Level-San Francisco and Jacksonville Cases
                            Adjudicated Since 1984 Amendments

Figures                 Figure 1: Study Objective                                                      6
                        Figure 2: Scope and Methodology                                                8
                        Figure 3: Claims Filing and Appeals Process                                   10
                        Figure 4: Few Voluntary Compensations & Resolutions at                        12
                             DOS
                        Figure 5: 1984 Amendments Helpful in Some Areas                               15
                        Figure 6: Lengthy Processing Times on Appeals,                                17
                            Particularly at BRB
                        Figure 7: Recordkeeping at District Offices Needs                             19
                            Improvement




                        Page 4                                GAO/HRD-90-76BR   Workers’   Compensation
Contents




Abbreviations

AIJ        Administrative Law Judge
BRH        Benefits Review Board
DO         District Offices
GAO        General Accounting Office
OAIJ       Office of the Administrative   Law Judge


Page 6                                    GAO/HRD-90.76BR   Workers’   Compensation
vorkers’ Compensation:The l&pact of 1984
Abendments on the Longshore Program

Figuje 1
 -....-L.-.--~-


            w          Study Objective

                      *To Evaluate the Impact of
                       1984 Amendments on
                       Occupational Disease Claims




                              In 1984, the Congress enacted legislation to reform the Longshore and
Study Objective               Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, which was initially enacted in
                              1927. One of the purposes of the 1984 amendments was to improve the
                              operation of the program and to better ensure coverage to victims of



                  Y




                              Page 6                                GAO/HRD-90-76BR   Workers’   Compensation
                                                                                  -
Workers’ Compensation: The Impact of 1994
Amendments on the Longshore Program




occupational diseases.’ The Chairman, Subcommittee on Labor Stan-
dards, Committee on Education and Labor, and Congressman George
Miller asked us to review the effectiveness of the 1984 amendments in
improving the processing of occupational disease claims.

The Secretary of Labor is responsible for administering the compensa-
tion program authorized by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Com-
pensation Act. The act provides compensation (for lost wages and
medical expenses) to workers who are injured on the job or who have
contracted an occupationally induced disease during the course of
employment in the maritime industry.’ It also provides survivor benefits
to families of workers who died of work-related injuries or diseases.

Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs administers the act
through its Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation.
This division is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 13 district
offices nationwide. The district offices’ primary functions are to mediate
claims and to monitor benefits provided by employers or their insurance
carriers to ensure that injured employees receive required medical treat-
ment and that employees, or their survivors, receive compensation due
them under the act. Although not part of the Office of Workers’ Com-
pensation Programs, Labor’s Office of the Administrative Law Judge
(OALJ) and the Benefits Review Board (BRB) are authorized to hear cases
that cannot be resolved at the district offices.




‘Victims of occupational diseases are workers who die or incur employment-connected disabilities as
a result of exposure to hazardous conditions that arise naturally out of maritime employment, as
opposed to a single injury or event. Some occupational diseases include: (1) communicable diseases,
such as pulmonary tuberculosis and hepatitis; (2) asbestosis, silicosis, or carbon tetrachloride poison-
ing brought on by dust, smoke, and fumes in the work environment; and (3) other diseases from
environmental conditions that are naturally incident to maritime employment involving stress or
strain, or exposure to radiation, or acoustic trauma.

“The maritime employees generally include longshoremen and some other persons engagedin long-
shoring operations, and any harbor worker, such as a ship repairman, shipbuilder, and ship breaker.



Page 7                                                  GAO/HRD-90.76BR       Workers’   Compensation
                              Workers’ Compensation: The Impact of 1984
                              Amendments on the Longshore Program




Figure 2



    i GAQ Scope and Methodology

           l       Visited San Francisco, Boston,
                   & Jacksonville District Offices
           l       Interviewed Officials at OALJ
                   and BRB
           l       Interviewed Union Officials,
                   Claimants’ and Employers’
                   Attorneys
           l       Reviewed Case Files in San
                   Francisco & Jacksonville

                              To obtain the necessary data, we
Scope and                 l   visited Labor’s district offices in San Francisco, Boston, and
Methodology                   Jacksonville;:’
                          l   interviewed officials at OALJ and BRB;



               Y
                              “Congressman Miller’s office specifically asked that we include the San Francisco office in our review.
                              We selected the Jacksonville office for review because it has the largest number of occupational dis-
                              ease claims in the country. We also visited the Boston office to gain additional perspective on the
                              claims process.



                              Page 8                                                  GAO/HRD-90.76BR      Workers’   Compensation
              Workers’ Compensation: The Impact of 1984
              Amendments on the Longshore Program




------r
          l   interviewed (in person or by phone) attorneys from 13 law firms repre-
              senting claimants and employers in California, Washington, Florida,
              Connecticut, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia;
          l   interviewed union officials in San Francisco and Jacksonville; and
          l   reviewed case files on all occupational disease claims” in the San Fran-
              cisco office and a statistically representative sample of case files in the
              .Jacksonville office. The cases we reviewed included active and closed
              ones.5 Our review focused primarily on cases that had been resolved
              since the 1984 amendments.

              We performed our field work from April through October 1989. Our
              work was conducted in accordance with generally accepted government
              auditing standards.




               ‘As agreed with Congressman Miller’s office, we excluded claims involving hearing loss from the
              SUM! of our review, as the issues surrounding them are very different from those of other occupa-
              tional disease claims.
              “Closed cases are usually held at the district offices for a minimum of 2 years from the date of closure
              anti subsequently stored at a federal records center. Among the closed cases, we reviewed only those
              still being held at the district offices.



              Pagr 9                                                  GAO/HRD-90-76BR      Workers’   Compensation
                                      Workers’ Compensation: The Impact of 1984
                                      Amcwdments on the Longshore Program




Figure 3: Claims Filing and Appeals
Proaess




                                                                          Employer reviews
                                                                           worker’s claim                                Approved
                                                                                                                        (Voluntary
                                                                                   ( Denied                         compensation)




                                                                     Worker and employer Tempt
                                                                          to resolve dispute                             Resolved
                                                                                   1 Not resolved                     (Settlement)

                                                                      Administrative Law Judge
                                                                      holds hearing ald issues
                                                                             decision                                     Awarded
                                                                                                                           benefits
                                                                                    1 Denied




                                                                 )     Worker or employer may       )
                                                                       further appeal to Federal                     1 Worker receives benefits      1
                                                                            Court of Appeals




                                       ‘If a fat-) related Injury or disease has caused the death of a worker, the worker’s dependents may file a
                                      claim for survivors bcneftts

                                      “At any step 111the process, a worker and an employer may agree to settle with the approval of the
                                      dlstrlct offtco or ALJ




                                      Pa&p 10                                                           GAO/HRD-BO-7BBR   Workers’    Compensation
                    Workers’ Compensation: The Impact of 1984
                    Amendments on the Longshore Program




                    A claim begins when an employee reports a work-related injury to his or
Cl&ims Filing and   her employer and presents a claim to a Labor district office. A surviving
Appeals Process     dependent of an employee can also file a claim for survivor’s benefits
                    when such an injury or disease causes death of the employee. If the
                    employer does not contest the claim, it must pay for the medical treat-
                    ment and/or provide compensation for lost wages. If the employer
                    denies the claim, it must advise Labor of its reasons.

                    District offices (DOS) mediate claims disputed by employers or their
                    insurance carriers. As the first step of the mediation, DOS generally hold
                    an informal conference with the parties to ascertain the facts and to
                    bring the parties into agreement on issues leading to the final resolution
                    of the claim. If the parties do not agree, the claim is referred to OAW for
                    a formal hearing and decision. If still not satisfied, the parties can
                    appeal successively to BRB and the federal court of appeals.

                    At any step of the process, the parties can decide to settle their disputes
                    without a formal decision from OALJ or BRB. Unlike voluntary compensa-
                    tions, a negotiated settlement discharges the future liability of the
                    employer or its insurance carrier and has to be approved by either oos
                    or OALJ. District officials told us that settlements often occur on occupa-
                    tional disease claims as a result of claimants recovering damages from a
                    third party, such as an asbestos manufacturer.




                    Page 11                                     GAO/HRD-SO-76BR   Workers’   Compensation
                            Workers’ Compensation: The Impact of 1994
                            Amendments on the Longshore Program




Figure 4



           w       Few Voluntary Compensations
                   & Resolutions at DOS
               l   Employers Routinely Contest
                   Occupational Disease Claims
               l   Majority of Claims Filed Since
                   1984 Amendments Still
                   Pending Resolution




                           For occupational disease claims, employers seldom accept claims and
Few Voluntary              provide benefits voluntarily; they routinely dispute issues such as the
Compensations and          cause and extent of injuries and who is the liable employer (when
Resolutions at District    employees have worked for more than one employer). In addition, at the
                           office we reviewed, the majority of claims filed since the 1984 amend-
Offices                    ments are still pending resolution.

                           We reviewed all occupational disease case files (except hearing loss
                           cases) that were maintained by the San Francisco district office as of




                           Page 12                                      GAO/HRD-90-70BR   Workers’   Compensation
Workers’ Compensation: The Impact of 1984
Amendments on the Longshore Program




April 30, 1989. We identified 728 cases that either were pending resolu-
tion or had been resolved since the 1984 amendments became effective
on September 30, 1984. Over 90 percent of these were asbestos-related
cases. District officials said that their total caseload since 1984 was
somewhat greater than the 728 that we identified because some cases
had been closed” and sent to the federal records center for storage. They
did not know, however, how many there were.

At the Jacksonville district office, we reviewed a statistically represen-
tative sample of 203 cases to estimate the caseload. We estimate that as
of July 13, 1989, a total of approximately 3,560 cases either were pend-
ing or had been resolved since the 1984 amendments became effective.
Over 97 percent of these were asbestos-related claims. Similar to the San
Francisco situation, these total caseloads are also understated because
cases that were closed before July 1987 had been sent to the federal
records center and could not be identified for our review.

Based on the cases we reviewed, in both the San Francisco and Jackson-
ville district offices, there have been few instances (only about 1 per-
cent) where employers voluntarily provided compensation (that is,
employers agreed to pay claims without contesting them). Employers
routinely dispute occupational disease claims. The disputed claims are
resolved through either negotiated settlements between the parties or
adjudication by OAW or BRB. Employers and claimants have been able to
resolve their disputes only in about 14 percent of the cases in San Fran-
cisco and 11 percent of the cases in Jacksonville. Most of the resolutions
were accomplished through settlements. Also, about 12 percent of the
San Francisco cases and 1 percent of the Jacksonville cases were admin-
istratively closed as the result of claimants’ inactivity or withdrawal.
The remaining 7’3 percent of San Francisco cases and 86 percent of Jack-
sonville cases were pending resolution as of April 30, and July 13, 1989,
respectively. (See table 1.)




“District offices closed cases when final payment had been made or final action had been taken. San
Francisco district office officials said that cases that were closed before July 1986 had been sent to
the federal records center.




Page 13                                                 GAO/HRD-SO-76BR      Workers’   Compensation
                                            Workers’ Compensation: The Impact of 1984
                                            Amendments on the Longshore Program




Table 1: Status of Occupational Disease
Claiqw at San Francisco and                 In percent       .--~----
Jacl(sonville District Offices Since 1984   Statusr                                                    San Francisco                    Jacksonville0
Ameindments                                 .-.-
                                            Voluntary    compensation                                                   1                               1
                                            Administrative       closures                                              12                               1
                                            Dismissal                                                                   0                               1
                                            Resolved                                                                   14b                             Ilb
                                            Pending                                                                   7sc                              86”
                                            Total                                                                    100                          100
                                            aThe percentage of cases in each category for the Jacksonville district office is estimated from a sample
                                            of cases selected for our review. The sampling errors for all categories except pendrng cases are within
                                            1 percentage point or less. The sampling error for the pending cases is within 3 percentage pornts.
                                            These sampling errors were calculated at the 95.percent confidence level.

                                            ‘About 75 percent of the San Francisco resolved cases and 90 percent of the Jacksonville cases were
                                            resolved through settlements between the parties without adjudications (by OALJ or BRB).
                                            CAbout 92 percent of San Francisco pending cases and over 99 percent of Jacksonville pendrng cases
                                            were pending at the district office level.


                                            At both offices, cases were pending because the parties had not fully
                                            developed the evidence or had not requested formal hearings. With the
                                            exception of one case, claimants were represented by attorneys on the
                                            cases that we reviewed. District officials told us that most of the cases
                                            were pending because the attorneys either were still developing evi-
                                            dence or were awaiting resolution from third parties (such as asbestos
                                            manufacturers).




                                            Page 14                                                  GAO/HRD-90-76BR         Workers’   Compensation
          .


                        Workers’ Compensation: The Impact of 1984
      ,
                        Amendments on the Longshore Program




Flgurcj 5



      :w      1984 Amendments Helpful in
              Some Areas
              *Statute of Limitations for
               Occupational Disease Claims
              *Wage Determinations for
               Retirees
              @Eligibilityfor Survivor
              Benefits
              Goverage for Voluntary
               Retirees


                        Most of the claimants’ and employers’ attorneys we interviewed agreed
1984 Amendments         that the 1984 amendments have been beneficial. They said that the
Helpful in SomeAreas    amendments were particularly beneficial in the following areas:

                       1, Statute of limitations: The amendments extended the required period
                       for notifying employers of occupational injury or death from 30 days to
                       1 year, and extended the claims filing period from 1 to 2 years from the
                       date the employee or claimant becomes aware of the relationship
                       between the employment, the disease, and the death or disability. Claim-
                       ants’ attorneys said that the additional time is helpful because the



                       Page 15                                      GAO/HRD-90-76BR   Workers’   Compensation
Workers’ Compensation: The Impact of 1984
Amendments on the Longshore Program




period between occupational injury and manifestation of the disease is
often lengthy and claimants often need additional time to identify poten-
tially liable employers.

2. Wage determination for retirees: Before the amendments, confusion
existed over what wage rate to use in computing disability benefits for
employees who filed occupational disease claims long after they retired.
The amendments specified that the national average weekly wage appli-
cable at the time of the injury7 should be used for occupational disease
claims if the injury occurs more than 1 year after the employee has
retired. Claimants’ and employers’ attorneys stated that retirees’ aver-
age weekly wages can now be established without disputes and litiga-
tion, and employers can better determine potential liabilities to aid in
negotiating settlements.

3. Eligibility for survivor benefits: The amendments changed the provi-
sions for survivors’ benefits by requiring that the death of the employee
must be attributable to a work-related injury or disease in order for sur-
vivors to be eligible for benefits. Before the amendments, survivors of
employees who were receiving benefits at the time of the death were
entitled to benefits regardless of the cause of death. Although fewer sur-
vivors new qualify for benefits as the result of the causal requirement,
claimants’ attorneys stated that this change was reasonable, fair, and
consistent with other workers’ compensation programs. We did not find
this issue disputed in our review of adjudicated cases.

4. Coverage for retirees: Before the amendments, BRB decisions had ruled
that employees who retired voluntarily, rather than as a result of occu-
pational diseases, did not qualify for disability benefits because they did
not suffer wage loss. The amendments, as interpreted, extended the cov-
cragc to voluntary retirees because retirees could incur medical and
other expenses as the result of occupational diseases. During our case
review, we did not find this issue being disputed.




‘For occupational disease claims, the act specified that the time of the iflury is the date on which the
claimant. bovomes aware of the relationship between the employment, the disease, and the death or
disability.



Page 16                                                 GAO/HRD-90-76BR       Workers’   Compensation
                               Workers’ Compensation: The Impact of 1984
                               Amendments on the Longshore Program




Figure 6



           m           Lengthy Processing Times on
                       Appeals, Particularly at BRB
               l       Complaints about Delays at
                       ALJ and BRB
               l       No Timeliness Standards
               l   Average Processing Time
                   Appears Lengthy, Particularly
                   at BRB




                               Claimants’ attorneys said that ALJS and BRB take too long to resolve
Lengthy Processing             appeals. Our case reviews showed that the average processing time at
Times on Appeals,              the ALJ level (from the date that the cases were referred to the AWS to
Particularly at BRB            the date of first AU decision) was about 12 months for San Francisco
                               cases and 22 months for Jacksonville cases. The average processing time
                               at URB was about 34 months for San Francisco cases. We did not estimate
                               the average processing time at BRB for Jacksonville because we only
                   Y           found three cases in our sample that had been adjudicated by BRB. The
                               processing time for these cases ranged from 25 to 46 months. (See
                               table 2.)



                               Page 17                                     GAO/HRD-SO-76BR   Workers’   Compensation
                                        Workers’ Compensation: The Impact of 1984
                                        Amendments on the Longshore Program




Table 2: Average Processing Time at
Eacp Adjudication Level-San Francisco   In months
                                                                                                     --~-_.--.
andiJackbonville Cases Adjudicated                                                               Average processing time
Slnde 1984 Amendments                   Adjudication level                               San Francisco                  Jacksonvillea
                                        District   office                                               30                                      21
                                        ALJs                                                            12                                      22
                                        BRB                                                             34                                      -b

                                        “The average processing time for the Jacksonville district office is estimated from the processing time of
                                        the sample cases selected for our review. The sampling errors for our estimates of the average process.
                                        tng time are plus or minus 6 months at the district office level and plus or minus 4 months at the ALJ
                                        level. These sampling errors were computed at the 95percent confidence level.
                                        “In the Jacksonville district office we only found three cases in our sample that had been adjudicated by
                                        BRB. The processtng time for those cases ranged from 25 to 46 months. Because of its small number,
                                        we dtd not estimate the average processing time at BRB.


                                        For the San Francisco cases, we computed the average processing time
                                        based on 44 cases that had been adjudicated by ALJS and 12 cases adju-
                                        dicated by BRB. For Jacksonville, we estimated the average processing
                                        time at the AIJ level based on the processing time of 16 sample cases
                                        that had been adjudicated by ALJS.

                                        Although the act does not specify time standards for AW and HRB deci-
                                        sions, we believe that the processing times are too long, particularly at
                                        the HRB level. The delays in processing beyond the ALJ level, in most
                                        cases, do not adversely affect claimants. When an AU’S decision is in
                                        favor of a claimant, the law generally requires that employers/carriers
                                        begin benefit payments regardless of whether they decide to further
                                        appeal the decision8 Some claimant attorneys said that BRB delays had
                                        been a problem to them because their fees and expenses were not paid
                                        until the case was finally decided.

                                        As shown in table 2, we also computed the average processing time at
                                        the district office level. For San Francisco, of the 60 cases that were
                                        processed beyond the district office level, it took an average of about 30
                                        months for a case to be developed and forwarded to OALJ. For Jackson-
                                        ville, the average processing time at the district office was about 21
                                        months. According to district officials, processing time at the district
                                        offices is determined largely by claimants and employers. The parties
                                        may delay processing their claims under the act due to actions pending
                                        in a third-party lawsuit.


                                        “If an AIJ decides against a claimant and the decision is subsequently reversed by HRB, the delays in
                                        processing time at the NRD level could delay the claimant’s receipt of benefits. During our case
                                        reviews, however, we found very few such occurrences.



                                        Page 18                                                 GAO/HRD-SO-76BR       Workers’   Compensation
                              Workers’ Compensation: The Impact of 1984
                              Amendments on the Longshore Program




Figure 7



           m       Recordkeeping at District
                   Offices Needs Improvement
               l   Limited Case Mgmt. System
                   @Unableto Keep Track of
                   Status of Cases
                   @Unableto Produce Data on
                   Processing Times
                   @Unableto Generate Statistical
                   Data on Caseloads and Trends
               0 Reliability of Data Questionable
               l   Lack of Training of DO staff

                              District offices are supposed to use Labor’s Longshore Automated Case
Recordkeeping at              Management System to manage and control their claims. While the sys-
District Offices Needs        t,em is capable of providing limited data on the status of claims (for
Improvement                   example, active or closed), it is inadequate in some areas. For example,
                              none of the district offices we visited could provide us data on

                          9 the number of occupational disease cases at the district office,            OALJ, BRB,
                            or circuit court of appeals;
                          . the processing times for cases at any of these locations; or
                          l any statistical data on caseloads and trends.



                              Page 19                                     GAO/IiRD90-76BR   Workers’   Compensation
Workers’ Compensation: The Impact of 1984
Amendments on the Longshore Program




In addition, the reliability of the data in the system is questionable. We
found many discrepancies between the data in the case files and the
automated records. As a result, we were unable to rely on the automated
records and had to gather information from the case files. District offi-
cials acknowledged that they may not have entered all claims into the
system or that some information may have been entered incorrectly.
They said that they used claims examiners and temporary hires to per-
form data entry without verifying its accuracy.

Some district officials also said that they had not been adequately
trained on how to use the system. According to them, when the system
was installed and the records were automated in 1985, they did not
receive any training. They had to learn the system on their own.

The San Francisco district office made more use of the system than the
others we visited. The office was able to generate summary listings of
caseloads and was using the system’s word processing features to corre-
spond with claimants, employers, and attorneys. The Boston and Jack-
sonville district offices, however, were unable to provide us summary
listings without the help of headquarters staff. Jacksonville officials
said they did not use the system to generate form letters because it
required too many steps and was too time consuming.




Page 20                                     GAO/HRD-90-76BR   Workers’   Compensation
”




    Page 21   G A O /HRD-YO-76BR Workers’ Compensation
&pendix    I

Maor Contributors to This Briefing Report


Human Resources -   Sophia Ku, Assignment Manager
Division,
Washington, DC.

                    Floyd Ortega, Evaluator-in-Charge
San Francisco       Elizabeth Olivarez, Evaluator
R6gionalOffice      Susan Lynch, Evaluator




(106344)            Page 22                             GAO/HRD-90-76BR   Workers’   Compensation
!