NATIONAL COUNCIL OF SOCIAL SECURITY MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATIONS

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The New Administrative Investigation Process 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015 

 

FrontLine Blog

National Council of

Social Security Management Associations

The 46th Annual NCSSMA Meeting

Friday, January 22, 2016 

Resolution Round-up  

Monday, February 8, 2016

Is my voice being heard?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

TSC Connection  

Friday, February 19, 2016

FrontLine Tips & Tricks

Monday, March 21, 2016

How Do I Get Involved?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Editorial Correction

Monday, March 21, 2016 

SSA’s Budget Needs

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Blast from the Past

Thursday, April 21, 2016

 

 

TSC Connection: Quality Initiative

Thursday, April 28, 2016

NCSSMA Awards

Monday, May 9, 2016

PSC Delays

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Interview with Richard Sanchez, Seattle Region ASC

Monday, June 13, 2016

 

Peggy Murphy, District Manager, Great Falls Montana interviewed Seattle Region Area System Coordinator Richard Sanchez.

 

Peggy Murphy: Tell us about how you became an ASC with our agency?

Richard Sanchez: I was selected for the office SLC position in 2005 and really enjoyed the responsibilities of fixing and solving issues for my colleagues. My interest and skills flourished from there. I trained with one of our region’s best ASCs, Larry Runge, who took me under his wing and provided the opportunity to improve the skillsets needed to be an effective SLC. In 2007, I accepted a Job Enhancement Program (JEP) detail to assist ASCs with a workstation refreshment project. During this assignment, I caught the ASC bug. In 2009, an ASC position opened, and the rest is history.

 

PM: What has been the biggest change in the use of technology since you became an ASC?

RS: Every day something is changing in technology. This is what keeps my job interesting. As the agency embraces technological advancement, we ASCs welcome the opportunity to assist in serving and increasing the speed of individual service to the public. Things as simple as the use of dual monitors were a huge asset in speeding up interviews and taking applications. I believe the biggest change for our agency has been the introduction of  laptops and teleworking. For some, getting familiar with using a laptop has been quite an undertaking.

Laptops, I believe, are the future of the agency and as frustrating as they may be right now, I think as time passes . . .

 

Click here to read the full article.

Critical Encounters

Friday, June 3, 2016

The 800# Operations Schedule

Thursday, June 9, 2016

 

From my earliest days as a manager, I was aware that Program Service Center employees (SPIKEs) assisted the Teleservice Centers (TSCs) on heavy call volume days.  I even knew there was a schedule that determined how much and on what days this assistance would be provided.  What I failed to grasp, was how valuable this information could be.  That little golden nugget remained tucked away in my subconscious, and years of struggling to manage the flow of walk-in traffic to the reception area of my small office followed.

 

After several years, I moved on to a larger office.  With the increase in the size of the office came an increase in the volume of walk-in traffic to the reception area, and as a result, the struggle to manage the flow of traffic worsened.  Not long after moving to that office, I began to question our process for assigning staff to reception area duty.  Each day we assigned Service Representatives (SRs) to reception area duty.  The number of SRs we assigned was usually the same each day, yet our walk-in traffic fluctuated widely from day to day.  I began to wonder, would it be better if we staffed the reception area based on our expected walk-in traffic for the day? I knew the first day of the month would be busy, and I knew the day after a holiday would be busy.  I wondered, how does the day after Independence Day compare to the day after Memorial Day?  Are there different degrees of “busy”? That nugget down deep in my subconscious finally broke free.

 

The 800# operations schedule uses expected call volumes to determine the amount of SPIKE assistance needed . . .

 

Click here to read the full article.

Employee Club Boosts Morale in the TSC

Friday, July 1, 2016

 

The Chicago TSC has created a fun and innovative club to improve morale in their office. Two inspiring supervisors, Emma Lee and Quinn Curtis, lead the Booster Club. They solicited the staff to find employees who were willing to showcase their leadership, creativity, and fresh ideas to promote positivity amongst the TSC. This diverse group of employees is naturally talented, and has the ability to encourage their peers to participate in events during lunches and breaks. These events can range from TSC spirit week, team unity day, Connect Four tournaments, and events featured around special holidays.

 

The goal of the Booster Club is to get employees engaged and excited about coming to work, especially during high-level phone days, in an effort to boost morale and employee attendance. The Booster Club has been successful in increasing employee attendance because the staff is excited about the events in which they either can win prizes or receive tasty treats. The employees get the opportunity to see their peers plan for events, give speeches, or observe members of management and employees taking pictures for “Wacky Hat Wednesday.” The winners of these fun-filled events are the celebrities of the day.

 

While the Booster Club has been successful in promoting morale in the Chicago TSC, it has brought awareness to the staff’s many talents that might go unnoticed otherwise. Winston Churchill stated, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” Every office in SSA should have a club or committee that is responsible for boosting morale. It is

 

Click here to read the full article.

eServices Office Spotlight: Panorama City Field Office

Thursday, July 14, 2016

 

In recent years, the agency has placed much emphasis on the suite of services available online. As managers, many of us have racked our brains trying to come up with innovative ways to increase usage of eServices in our servicing area. Most of us have tried to cajole our employees into embracing eServices. We have tried to engage our community partners in an effort to get them to refer their customers to go online. At a national level, the agency has tried to engage the many legal representatives with whom we work. While some offices require little effort in marketing the online services, there are offices that, against all odds, have become extremely successful at marketing electronic services. Let’s take the Panorama City office as an example. This level one office, located in a medium-sized city, has some big ideas. For the past few months, this office has led the pack consistently when it comes to RCS registrations. Although they continue to work diligently to meet the other electronic usage targets, we need only look at their servicing area to determine why what they are doing is extraordinary.  

 

The inner city’s office service area consists of mostly non-English speaking population. Many of the customers serviced by this office rely on their children to handle any type of government business.  SSA pays a total of approximately $723,000 monthly to about 69,000 beneficiaries. So, how is it that this office has managed to maintain consistently high numbers? The office attributes their success to one simple word: COMMUNICATION.

 

Management in that office believes in the product it is selling. They have managed to keep electronic services at the . . .  

 

Click here to read the full article.

NCSSMA Testifies at Hearing on Modernizing SSA’s IT Infrastructure

Friday, July 15, 2016

 

The state of SSA’s system or IT infrastructure is a growing concern both in SSA and on Capitol Hill.  This concern led to a hearing on Thursday, July 14, 2016, before the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee.  

 

NCSSMA submitted written testimony to support the case for SSA’s much-needed modernization.  The actual hearing can be viewed online on your smart phone or home computer.   However, SSA’s computers in field offices and teleservice centers do not permit streaming of the hearing.  You can read my actual statement as presented before the Subcommittee below:

 

Chairman Johnson, Ranking Member Becerra, and Members of the Subcommittee, my name is Rick Warsinskey, President of the National Council of Social Security Management Associations.  Our organization represents Field Office and Teleservice Center management nationwide.  I appreciate the opportunity to testify today.

 

My testimony will focus on why modernizing SSA’s IT infrastructure is essential from the perspective of over 60,000 employees and even more importantly, to the customers we serve.

 

Ask any SSA employee what their number one concern is and most will tell you it is the frustration they face getting their job done due to our slow system.

 

Click here to read the full article.

Veterans Non-Paid Work Experience Program

Monday, August 1, 2016

 

Have you ever wished you had some additional interviewers in your office to help with SS5s or CDRs; perhaps extra bodies to help visitors fill out lengthy DDS forms, assist at the SSA Express kiosks, or just take proofs, mail letters, or call appointments ahead of time to decrease no-show rates? Maybe you wished someone could help you check-in the initial rush of visitors in the morning, or check your lobby pamphlet racks to ensure they are properly stocked. In a time of diminishing resources, we must all be creative in the manner in which we get some much-needed help. Many of us share the same sentiment when it comes to hiring: we just cannot get enough hiring slots. There is a way, however, to get additional help without needing a hiring slot: Non-Paid Work Experience Programs. Although you may have heard of such programs, you might not know how to take advantage of them. Well, look no further! Read on, to get all the information you need to get started. Although we will focus on the Veterans Non-Paid Work Experience (NPWE) Program as an example, the general guidelines are the same for other acceptable volunteer programs. Information on additional acceptable volunteer programs is found at: SSA National Guidance - Volunteer Services.

 

The Veterans Non-Paid Work Experience Program is one aspect of the Coming Home to Work Initiative. It is part of the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E) early outreach effort to provide eligible veterans with the opportunity to obtain training and practical job experience concurrently. Qualified participants must have clearly established career goals, the ability to learn easily in a hands-on environment, and are in need of additional civilian work experience. All participants have already been preselected and are actively working with a VA counselor to find . . .

 

Click here to read the full article.

FEEA Executive Director Steve Bauer Retiring,

Joyce Warner Announced as Replacement

Friday, September 16, 2016

 

After 30 years as the driving force behind the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA), Executive Director Steve Bauer is retiring. Steve was a founding FEEA Board Member in 1986 when he was President of the National Council of Social Security Management Associations.  As Executive Director for the last 27 years, his commitment to federal employees and their families has never wavered. From Hurricane Andrew to Hurricane Katrina, Oklahoma City to 9/11, Steve has led the team that helps federal employees and their families when they need it most.

 

At the 2016 NCSSMA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Steve was presented with an award recognizing his invaluable contributions to FEEA and federal employees. He will be greatly missed and we truly appreciate his dedication and commitment. Steve stated, “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to serve the federal sector for my entire adult life – first as a federal employee myself, and then as part of FEEA for the last 30 years. I am deeply committed to ensuring federal employees are taken care of in the moments when it matters most. Who knew when this all began that we could look back at over 25,000 federal employees helped.”

 

Following a months-long search, the FEEA Board of Directors announced that it has selected Joyce Warner as the new Executive Director. She will join the FEEA team in Washington, DC, on October 3, 2016. Ms. Warner comes to FEEA from IREX’s Global Programs Group, where she serves as Executive Vice President and has extensive experience leading complex non-profit operations.

 

Click here to read the full article. 

Replacement PIV Cards - Making a Successful Transition

Friday, November 4, 2016

 

With the advent of laptops, McAfee, and ESSO, use of PIV cards is now a fact of life at SSA.  Many cards have been in circulation long enough to expire and need replacement.  It is easy for a user to forget the replacement card needs to be registered with McAfee by answering their three security questions.  ASCs and SysCos frequently receive calls from users receiving error messages with their new PIV cards.  They may or may not indicate it is a replacement, but for a small but telling clue.  After much trial and error, we have learned to ask.  It has been especially problematic due to the recent problems with McAfee and DEEP Command not functioning properly.

 

Managers can head off these problems by having the users follow the instructions at the link below when issuing the replacement card.  The laptop should be 1) at the Control + Alt + Delete screen and 2) the user connected to the SSA network and not teleworking.  Here is the link: https://s3e1068/hspd12/lacs/Replacement-PIV-Card-Procedure.pdf

 

A secondary problem occurs when users cannot recall the answers to their three security questions.  There are two different ways of resolving this problem, depending on whether or not the user is logged onto the laptop.  If so, right-clicking on the person icon in the systems tray and selecting the option Manage Security Questions will walk the user through a reset of the questions and answers.  If the user is not logged on and the laptop is at the McAfee screen, refer to page 8 of the FDE – End Users Guide located at the Security Action Team McAfee SharePoint.  The user should be able to reset the answers to the security questions without calling the NCC and being on hold.   Please note...

 

Click here to read the full article.

Self-Help PC Proof of Concept

Friday, December 2, 2016

 

I am extremely excited to share information about the Self-Help PC Proof of Concept project my office, Rio Rancho, NM, began piloting on August 3, 2015.  We have four SHPCs housed in our reception area.  They are located against the north wall, on a bank of individual carrels that provide a secure, private place for the public to file their claims, replace their Social Security cards, register for mySocialSecurity accounts, or estimate their retirement benefits, just to name a few of our popular online services.  

 

Our employees love this concept, as do our customers.  For FY 2016 we had 4,216 SHPC completed transactions, the majority of which were mySocialSecurity Activations (2,111) and Initial Claims (1,457).  Our employees never go into the lobby for any purpose, as we have a telephone style intercom that the public uses to ask questions of our SHPC Coordinator, whose window is located directly across from the bank of SHPCs.  Our SHPC Coordinator also has an individual monitor dedicated to the SHPCs, with toggle switches that allows him/her to see exactly what is going on at each of the four SHPCs, so we can assist with questions or issues that the applicant may have.  

 

We have workflows in place to keep track of all our customers who we refer to the SHPCs, to ensure they always submit a finished product.  The visitor is educated on the entire process at initial screening by the CSR/CS/TE who pulls their visitor number on VIPr. We give them handouts with screen shots and instructions that simplify the process from start to finish.

 

Click here to read the full article.

NCSSMA Provides Media Comments on

SSA Funding and Field Office Wait Times

Monday, December 12, 2016

 

Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General released an audit on December 5 regarding increased waiting times at SSA field offices. The audit report has received media and Congressional attention. Last week, the Washington Post contacted the National Council of Social Security Management Associations to provide comment on the audit report. I wanted to take an opportunity to share the article, which ran on December 9.

 

Chris Detzler

NCSSMA President

 

Click here to read the full article.

Office of Customer Service (OCS)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

 

Recently the agency announced that the Office of Telephone Service would be renamed the Office of Customer Service and receive an expanded mandate.  NCSSMA TSC Representative Michelle Smith recently interviewed OCS Lead Program Analyst Annie Polastre-Jackson regarding the changes.

 

Michelle Smith - What was the transition from the Office of Telephone Service (OTS) to the Office of Customer Service (OCS)?  

 

Annie Polastre-Jackson - OTS’s core functions were telephone delivery for the National 800 Number Network (N8NN) and the Field Office Network Enterprise (FONE).  With the transition to OCS, the organization has become about more than just telephone delivery, but rather OCS is now a customer-centric service delivery organization.  OCS is now responsible for the design, implementation, oversight, and re-engineering of business processes that affect the customer experience.  The office accomplishes its mission by monitoring service delivery and performance, analyzing customer feedback, and identifying solutions that improve the customer’s experience through a wide range of service delivery channels.

 

The first phase of the transition from OTS to OCS encompassed moving the management and oversight of the N8NN procedures and the Teleservice Center (TSC) Operating Guide workloads from OTS/OCS to the Office of Public Service and Operations Support (OPSOS).  At the same time...

 

Click here to read the full article.

TSC Connection

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

 

I want to bid farewell as I leave my East Brunswick NJ Teleservice Center (TSC) Manager, NCSSMA TSC Representative, and NYRMS TSC Representative positions, respectively.  First, let me say, it is with great regret that I will no longer hold these positions. Although there is uncertainty and sadness as my entire career with the Social Security Administration (SSA) thus far has been in the TSC, change is inevitable. I now look forward to a new position that brings forth new challenges and adds more diverse experience to my career.

 

I encourage all TSC management to join their regional Associations, you will broaden your knowledge, have career resources by enhancing your network, opportunities to share your skills, access to an established support system of experienced people who are motivated to get things done, and my final thought, it is important to be proactive about things that matter.

 

During these last few years the membership has provided support, and through your encouragement and guidance, I have been able to excel at promoting the TSC perspective. I have shared a unique camaraderie, which I hope will continue in the years to come. I leave these positions with a great network of business associates who I know I will be able to reach out to in my new position.

 

The TSC was implemented in October 1988 to be an initial point of contact between the public and SSA. The callers into the N8NN today are...

 

Click here to read the full article.

 
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