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SSA Innovates to Meet Evolving Challenges

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Tue Sep 08 2015

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As Social Security celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, this program remains the underpinning of the economic security of the United States. The demand for the services we provide has never been greater. As the population aged 65 and older continues to grow, the need for the programs we administer continues to increase. 

This trend coincides with the threat of our agency losing institutional knowledge, as 29 percent of our permanent workforce will be eligible to retire in the next five years. These challenges, coupled with constraints within the federal government, and uncertainty about future budgets, create opportunities and a mandate for Social Security to be more innovative, efficient, and effective than ever before. 

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So how is the Social Security Administration rising to the challenge?

Invest in People 

For one thing, we focus on the biggest asset we have: our exceptional employees. We support them through developmental opportunities, active engagement, and greater empowerment to make decisions.  

Our employees take advantage of a wide range of professional developmental opportunities—both within and outside the agency. Regular training events, mentoring programs, and various detail assignments are a few of the ways we foster skills development and facilitate knowledge transfer. Meanwhile. we work to engage our employees by soliciting feedback and seeking their input and ideas on service and program innovation, which helps them realize they are an integral part of the agency’s operation, policy development, and decision making. 

Invest in Technology 

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We also embrace new and emerging technologies. We understand the service expectations of the public are evolving, and we need to meet these changing expectations as the demand for our service grows in our data-driven culture. Consequently, we equip our employees with many decision support tools.  

However, technology could never take the place of our employees who—through their compassion, experience, and dedication—reflect the “heart of the agency.” Instead, we strive to seamlessly blend the talents of our employees with the impressive capabilities of cutting-edge technology and automated tools designed to support Social Security programs, process data, and support our knowledgeable employees. 

Putting It All Together 

This innovative blend of investment, in both our employees and technology, has provided our agency with a customer-centric infrastructure and has made it possible to continue providing the outstanding customer service that has always been the cornerstone of Social Security’s mission. Indeed, now more than ever, it’s all about customer choice—allowing the public to decide how and where they conduct business with us—whether face-to-face in an office setting or by taking advantage of our user-friendly, secure online services.   

Bottom line: Social Security is arguably the most successful domestic program in America’s history. Providing outstanding customer service to the public has been the foundation of our agency’s mission since its beginning—and will continue to be for the next 80 years and beyond.

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Carolyn Colvin will be the opening keynote speaker at the Government Workforce: Learning Innovations conference.

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