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National Council of

Social Security Management Associations

NCSSMA Advocates for SSA Resources

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What happens from one year to the next to ensure that the Social Security Administration has sufficient funding and staffing to meet the needs of the American public?  Especially when the priorities of Congressional appropriators often change from one legislative session to the next.  This is perhaps one of the most difficult questions faced by anyone who values the Social Security system, particularly for SSA employees who regularly experience first-hand the consequences of budget uncertainty year after year.  Per the Department of Justice guidelines of the Anti-Lobbying Act, SSA is able to legally educate Congress about the agency’s concerns through designated congressional liaisons.  But aside from this educational outreach, how is Congress made aware of the unique, legitimate challenges faced by SSA that necessitate appropriate spending levels?  There are several national organizations who contact Congress to advocate for SSA’s resource needs on behalf of the public we serve.


One of these organizations is NCSSMA.  How many of you knew that you belonged to an organization that regularly has some of the most effective and successful contacts with members of Congress regarding SSA’s budget?  Such effective contacts start with the efforts of NCSSMA President Chris Detzler and NCSSMA Washington Representative Rachel Emmons.  Together with other members of the NCSSMA Executive Committee, Chris and Rachel meet in-person with key members of Congress several times a year.  Chris does this on his own time.  They also create multiple position papers that are regularly distributed on Capitol Hill, which seek to play a role in the decision-making process of Congress regarding SSA’s budget.  


In addition to the Congressional outreach of our NCSSMA leadership, members of the NCSSMA Legislative Issues and Grassroots Committee are also involved in making contacts with Congressional appropriators who craft SSA’s budget.  As one of the NCSSMA national committees, the Legislative Issues and Grassroots Committee is comprised of a member of each of the regional management associations.  Prior to 2011, the committee was known simply as the Grassroots Committee until the NCSSMA leadership expanded the scope of the committee to be involved in advocating on behalf of legislative issues on Capitol Hill.  The Committee is currently focused on matching motivated managers with members of the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Appropriations Subcommittees, which are responsible for drafting SSA’s budget.  Eventually, the Legislative Issues and Grassroots Committee would also like to match additional NCSSMA managers with the full House and Senate Appropriations Committees.  The managers we find to assist in these efforts play an essential role in helping NCSSMA make contacts with those Representatives and Senators specifically responsible for determining SSA’s budget.  Managers selected to make these contacts go above and beyond as they are required to make these contacts on their own time and on their own dime.  In doing so, such managers are really some of the best SSA representatives to advocate on behalf of the needs of the agency as they simply discuss the needs and challenges of their particular office and how the budget levels influence these factors.  By matching NCSSMA members as closely as we can geographically with the House and Senate appropriators who represent them, we hope to maximize the impact of these contacts by selecting managers who either work or live in the jurisdiction of these legislators.  As a committee, we are always looking for additional assistance with this challenging but critical endeavor.  If you have a desire to make a difference not just within NCSSMA and the agency, but specifically with the Congressional appropriators who determine the short- and long-term fate of the agency, please contact your regional member of the Legislative Issues and Grassroots Committee for more information.  We look forward to seeing you as a part of our team.


Dan Combs

Denver Region

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