Administrative Burden

Administrative Burden

Policymaking by Other Means

Pamela Herd, Donald P. Moynihan

A major logistical challenge to enrolling millions of people was that thousands of planned regional Social Security offices were not yet in place. The Bureau of Federal Old-Age Benefits improvised. In November of 1936 it employed the Postal Service to enroll employers and employees. With forty-five thousand offices on the ground, daily contact with the public, and a generally positive reputation, the Postal Service offered an efficient and trusted choice that reduced both learning and compliance costs. 50 The Postal Service circulated and collected applications and then distributed Social Security cards. The eligibility process was brought to beneficiaries and employers via a familiar face—their local mailman. Within twenty-eight days of starting, the Postal Service had collected more than twenty-two million of the twenty-six million applications. 51 The success of the Postal Service gave the Bureau of Federal Old-Age Benefits some breathing room to train field office staff that were being hired as the initial enrollments took place.

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