A key objective of the Reagan administration when it took office in 1981 was to decrease domestic spending. Intending to offer the new administration "a little bit of a present," employees in the General Accounting Office, an arm of Congress, identified ineligible Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries as a possible source of billions of dollars of savings annu- ally. Subsequently the administration's Office of Management and Budget instructed the Social Security Administration to begin, on an accelerated schedule, eligibility reviews authorized by the Social Security Amendments of 1980. One-fourth of the 130,500 beneficiaries dropped from the rolls during the first full year of the reviews were mentally impaired, although the mentally impaired constituted only one-ninth of SSDI beneficiaries. The reaction by mental health advocacy groups, Congress, and the courts turned "a little bit of a present" into a major problem for the administration, and the various components of government that had consorted on a misguided policy began to make amends. The experience offers useful insights for future policymaking.