Serving the Scene from the
Chicago Region Region
VOL. 10 NO. 2 APRIL 2004
IN THIS ISSUE:
Award Time Again
Getting to Know CSSMA
Members For years we heard the automotive company slogan:
CSSMA Confidential Quality is Job 1. What would our slogan be in SSA for Quality?
Did That Really Happen Job Number 99?
SSA Guys Talk About…
Looking Glass World It has become very clear that our quality has slipped and it does
not receive the necessary attention in our agency. When I talk
Priorities about quality, I’m not talking about the broad based definition
Parting Shot on the Quality Matters website
(http://co.ba.ssa.gov/qualitymatters/). On this website quality is
Membership Report defined as: providing service that meets the needs of the people
we serve, balancing the five elements of accuracy, timeliness,
productivity, cost and service.
SCENE FROM THE REGION I’m talking primarily about accuracy. In SSA there isn’t a soul in
What does the Chicago Region the Field, TSCs or OHA that doesn’t understand how important
look like? Each issue will feature productivity and timeliness is. And that’s the root of the
a scene from the region problem. Productivity and timeliness are not balanced with
submitted by our members. If accuracy. If you took a typical Area Director visit, what
you have a photo that you would percentage of your visit would focus on quality versus
like showcased in our newsletter production? This isn’t the AD’s fault. They are only following
please send it to the lead from the top on down. Very few walk the talk on quality
Roslyn.Torella@ssa.gov in .jpg anymore. Why is this?
The consensus seems to be that we just have too much work to
focus on quality. If we take time to improve our work, this will
This issue’s scene is the slow down our clearances and productivity. The thought is our
Wisconsin Dells. submitted by budget doesn’t build in time for quality.
Rick Warsinskey, DM, Cleveland,
OH Meanwhile, we hear story after story of cases where we see
benefit eligibility is missed, e.g., SDW or we overpay or
Letters or comments can be sent underpay Title II beneficiaries and Title XVI recipients. Trainees
to: Roslyn Torella, Editor, coming out of class are thrown into production with little review.
CSSMA Today, 1353 E. Market I remember the day when I was Operations Officer at Chicago
South where before a trainee could adjudicate any case on their
St., Second Floor, Warren, OH
44483 (CONTINUED ON PAGE 2. COLUMN 1)
(CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1)
own they had to receive a payment accuracy of
96% on a rolling average of 50 reviews. That
means you had to do 48 out of 50 correct in a By Dan Byrns, TSC Representative
row. Could our trainees do that today? We A conference call between regional TSC
simply do not have the field management management and the CSSMA officers
structure in place to ever know. (including Rosemary Dunkle, current National
VP) was held for the first time. The objective
Is there nothing we can do? Should we just put for having this call was to try and raise the
our heads in the sand? visibility of TSC concerns.
The crux of the issue seems to be that we need While we heard valuable updates on
more resources to improve our quality. areas of regional and national concern from
Specifically we need more staff that has time to
Rosemary and Rick, the heart of the call was
look at cases, more TEs to train and monitor
quality, and finally more management time to the sharing of issues brought forward by TSC
monitor quality. management. We discussed a number of
TSC-specific concerns including the grade
Is there a way we can change the Agency differences between similarly responsible field
mindset around to build in quality throughout and TSC positions,
our day? How could we achieve this if we have promotional and
all these workloads to do? developmental
opportunities for TSC
Perhaps we need to consider itemizing what is employees, supervisory
the most important thing we do. If quality is ratios, the need for
near the top then perhaps some of the
additional TA support,
productivity goals and workloads we are
expected to do need to be adjusted. We are the need for systems support and training, the
doing this right now with the budget shortfall by negative impact of eWFM on local resources,
adjusting RZ, CDR and SDW production goals. the difficulty in arranging training time for the
staff – well I think you get the picture.
Can more money be budgeted for quality giving
us more resources? To do this we need to The call provided an excellent platform
convince Headquarters, OMB and Congress the to raise our concerns with the officers in a
cost of us putting our heads in the sands. setting that was truly set aside for TSC
Right now this has been very difficult to do. issues. If the goal of the call was to provide
The Agency Budget has been squeezed each the officers with a sense of what TSC
year leaving us with more work than the
management faces everyday then I believe the
resources we have to clear the work. This
does seem like a sad state of affairs when we call was a success. However, the story doesn’t
can’t significantly address quality. Leadership stop here. We need to keep sharing issues as
at all levels is going to be needed to make they arise, but not at the expense of bypassing
Quality Job Number 1. normal channels. Please remember that the
association is only as strong as its members so
if you have any issues that you want
addressed, please contact Dan Byrns or one of
that contribution to the greater good and
welfare of others.
This year there will be a change in
Boy, time sure flies. It seems just a both the nominating and the voting process.
short time ago we were writing to you about In the past, we asked the membership for
the CSSMA awards and recognition of our nominations and submitted them to the
colleagues. executive committee for consideration.
This year, you, the members of CSSMA, will
Since that last article, have you met be voting on the nominees and determining
or become aware of a fellow manager who the winners! When you receive your ballot
is giving back to his/her community? Are for the election of CSSMA officers, you will
YOU volunteering your time in your also receive a ballot for the selection for
community and would you like to tell us these awards.
about it? It doesn’t matter if it’s a church
activity, scouting, civic organization or Also, this year we are encouraging
charity or any combination of activities self-nominations for the Community
such as these. Service Award. Many times you are the
only one who knows all of the ways you
Have you had one or many wonderful volunteer your time and energy.
encounters with employees in other
components (i.e. Payment Center or Start thinking and be ready for the
Regional Office)? Did one of those award nominations when they come your
employees give you excellent service and way. The nomination packages will be sent
are they deserving of special recognition? out in May.
It is time to start answering these The Professional Relations
questions and be ready for the ballots that Committee is responsible for the CSSMA
will be coming out in late spring. Yes, it is awards process and we are very hopeful
CSSMA awards time! that we will have a good turn-out in both
nominations and votes.
The ALL-ONE AGENCY award is our
way of saying thank you to a non-field
employee who provides good service,
makes our job easier, and/or ensures that
we function timely and efficiently. As
demonstrated by our past winners, the
awardee usually accomplishes all that and
more with grace, a smile, a pleasant word
and above all competence and accuracy.
The COMMUNITY SERVICE award
shows appreciation for the time and effort
that some of us put in outside of our job.
There are a lot of hours, money, ideas, and
concerns that go into helping others. The
fulfillment and satisfaction from this activity
itself is rewarding, but we would also like to
be among those who express gratitude for
By: Linda Graeper
Professional Relations Committee
Let me introduce you to CSSMA
member, Bob Eikenburg, the manager of the
New Philadelphia, Ohio District Office. Bob
has worked for Social Security for over 29
years, and he has been the manager at the
New Philadelphia office for 3 years.
Now let me introduce you to CSSMA
member, Bob Eikenburg, “Big Brother of the
Year” in 2003 for the State of Ohio. Bob has
been generously sharing his time and talents
with the Big Brothers organization for the last 2 This edition of CSSMA Today's "Did
1/2 years. Bob’s little brother is Jon, age 11. That Really Happen?" article is a compendium
Jon has been in Bob and Kay Eikenburg’s life of incidents that we hope our readers will find
since September 2001. (Kay retired from SSA interesting and, perhaps, amusing. Gathered
on December 31, 2003 with 37 years of from several CSSMA members, CT editors
service). Bob speaks highly of Jon as the thought that rather than recounting just one
sweetest kid incident in detail we would put together this
imaginable. Bob takes series of brief reports, hi-lighting some
Jon on all kinds of experiences of CSSMA folks as reported to CT
outings such as to the over the past few months. We hope you find
zoo and Six Flags, and these incidents amusing too. They are real-life
they’ve even been on a occurrences and to misquote Jack Nicholson's
weekend trip to character a bit in that Tom Cruise and Demi
Washington, D.C. Bob Moore hit movie, A Few Good Men, we think
is happy to be a you all CAN “..handle the truth”.
positive influence in
Jon’s life and he hopes Al Kares, from Sandusky, Ohio whose
he is expanding Jon’s horizons. Bob feels like FO Code is 409, reports a continual problem
he actually receives much more back from Big with misrouted PCACS, misrouted MDWs and
Brothers than he puts into it, because Jon even some misrouted surface mail due,
helps him stay young. apparently, to someone saying to someone
else, "Send the item via 409".
Every day employees like Bob are
making their communities a better place, and Another report comes to us from South
we thank Bob for sharing his story with CSSMA. Bend, Indiana where CSSMA Member Sue
Many of us are involved in activities outside of Schneider reports that she's pretty sure she
our offices. If you, or someone you know is can identify at least one book in the local
actively involved in the community, “Share library that's not highly sought after. Seems
Your Light” by sending an email to that one of the local librarians called the SSA
Linda.Graeper@ssa.gov with the details and office and reported to Sue that they'd come
we’ll consider using it for a future edition of across an old SSN card stuck inside one of the
CSSMA TODAY. books they were clearing out.
(CONTINUED ON PAGE 5, COLUMN 1)
working outside in the warm, Spring sun.
Now, we're assured by the manager that
(CONTINUED FROM PAGE 4) this employee did not have a case of full-
Sue did a little detective work and found blown spring fever and did not mistake the
that the owner of that particular SSN had air conditioning unit for an ATM machine.
been born in 1872 and died in 1978 (at But, somehow, our employee still managed
about 106 years old, if my arithmetic is to get the deposit envelope filled with cash
right!) after apparently leaving their SSN and checks dropped into that air
card -- still in it's original delivery sleeve -- conditioning unit through a narrow slit found
in that apparently not too popular book. in the housing. The
One wonders how long that card embarrassed
would have employee, after much
gone effort, could not get
undiscovered, the envelope out and
had the library so had to call on the
not decided to Expert, All-Purpose
clean house. It's Manager to save the
also interesting day. With the use of
to note that our SSN holder would have pliers and
been over 65 years old before that first-ever screwdriver, our
SSA check was set to Ida Fuller and that erstwhile Mr. Fixit saved the day for his
Medicare would not have arrived on the employee, retrieving the booty from that air-
scene until our SSN holder was a spry 93 conditioning-unit-masquerading-as-an-ATM.
years old. I think I’d keep that card and CT's only comment is that 'all's well that
sleeve in my stash of SSA historical ends well'; if it had been summer and the
memorabilia, were I you, Sue; you've got a air conditioning had been running, the
real "oldie" there. employee may have had nothing more than
confetti to remember this incident by
Finally, CSSMA Today heard from a instead of the warm memory of a boss's
manager up from Wisconsin way, reporting helpfulness and service "above and
yet another demonstration that "other duties beyond".
as assigned" applies to no position so much
as it does to the local Manager (in this case, CT encourages all CSSMA members to
him). It seems that when one of his be on the lookout for incidents and activities
employees that might make good subject matter for the
was outside "Did That Really Happen?!" article we
during coffee publish in CSSMA Today. We don't expect
break last year, anyone needs to get "punked" in order to
they were have some humorous and/or unusual
using the top events to report; it's our experience that the
of a housing things that occur around the world of SSA
over a sometimes qualify for "Ripley's Believe It Or
window- Not" and are often, indeed, 'truth, stranger
mounted air than fiction'. So, let your Area Rep know
conditioning when you see or experience something
unit as a work surface to count money and you're willing to share with your comrades.
checks for a planned bank deposit. And thanks to those who supplied some of
Unconventional, yes, but this is Wisconsin the material above.
and it was, finally, a warm Spring day after
a long, cold Winter so working inside on a
table didn’t have the same appeal as
“You must have time because I certainly shouldn’t
have said to do them if you shouldn’t have time,
now should I?”
“I suppose not,” said Alice. “Which should I do
By Alan Alexander and Doug Schenck
“You must do them all first,” replied the White
For the “SSA Guys Talk About…” column in Rabbit.
this edition of CSSMA Today, CT editors thought
they’d pass along to CT readers the article you’ll “But I must start somewhere, mustn’t I?”
find just below. We thank a CSSMA member for
sending us this little gem; we really enjoyed it and “Now you see your error. You must start
thought it would fit very well in that portion of CT everywhere. Then you will be able to do your job.
usually reserved for our “sometimes That’s what I would do if I had your job,” the Rabbit
serious/sometimes tongue-in-cheek” OP/ED explained, warming up to his role as Mentor.
column. We’d been thinking about taking up the “Have you ever had my job?” Alice asked.
topic of SSA’s spiraling growth in the number of
goals and priorities to the point that EVERYTHING “No. But it’s perfectly clear that’s what I would do if
now seems to be a priority (an obvious I had.”
contradiction). So this submission was certainly
timely. “I see,” said Alice doubtfully.
As you’ll see, this little vignette uses “You don’t see. You can’t see that. There’s
conventions and characters found in that well- nothing to see.” The Rabbit corrected her.
known story “Alice in Wonderland” to portray the
sort of conundrum faced every day by people like “You’re right, of course,” admitted Alice. “I don’t
Field Office Managers in Social Security. As you see. But I can’t start everywhere at once. I would
read this exchange between Alice and the White need a head and arms and hands for every one of
Rabbit, see if you don’t find yourself identifying a these jobs. And if I had them, I don’t know where I
little (maybe a lot?) with Alice. And see if the White should buy my clothes.”
Rabbit doesn’t sound a lot like those setting our
goals and expectations (and maybe a little like “We are very concerned about your attitude,” the
some that reside in the greater Rabbit began sternly.
Baltimore/Washington area?). “Sometimes you do
not seem to be
“LOOKING GLASS WORLD” PRIORITIES cooperating.”
(Thanks to Lewis Carroll for making it all so clear) “But I only come to
you because I wanted
“Excuse me, please,” said Alice. “I have a great to know how to do my
many things to do and I was hoping you could give job properly,” Alice
me some help in deciding which are the most protested.
The Rabbit was unmoved. “No. You came here
“Why, you must do them all, of with excuses. If you really wanted to do your job,
course,” replied the White you would have said you would do everything at
Rabbit. once, even if you couldn’t possibly.”
“Of course,” admitted Alice, “I understand,” said Alice, though she was more
“but which do I do if I don’t confused than ever. “I thought I was supposed to
have time to do them all?” ask you for help.”
(CONTINUED ON PAGE 7, COLUMN 1)
What do you consider your best decision while
working for SSA?
Being flexible about going anywhere in the Chicago
Region for a promotion.
(CONTINUED FROM PAGE 6) What was (or is) your biggest gripe (or your “pet
peeve”) with SSA?
The persistent culture of Management by Nagging
The Rabbit beamed. “Of course you are, my child. instead of Management by Leadership.
That’s why we’re here. If we weren’t giving you so
much support and assistance, there would be no What would you consider the best advice you could
reason to have so many of us here. That’s why I give to management folks still working for SSA?
made this time to spend with you today. We Get very involved in CSSMA, get on committees
encourage you to continue to bring problems to our and get on the Executive Board if you can.
attention. If you don’t tell us what your problems Otherwise you are too isolated on your own.
are, we can’t help you as we have today.”
What are your plans for the future?
“And I’m so grateful, too,” said Alice with only slight I’m talking to some people in the Financial Planning
hesitation. She curtsied properly and explained and Investment fields about a job.
she really must be going.
Any other comments/perspectives you wish to
The Management Association should take a very
firm position on provisions in the upcoming contract
negotiations so that the results are the best
possible for the delivery of public service.
This month we are featuring Pete Kroeger who
retired as the Assistant District Manager of Aurora,
When did you join CSSMA?
I joined twice, when I became a Supervisor in 1974
and again when I returned to the Field from RO in
What was your most positive experience with SSA?
Teaching a CR class when I was a CR.
What was your most embarrassing moment or
experience with SSA?
Trying to show a demonstration of MCS on a PC
that wouldn’t boot up.
What was the funniest thing you ever saw (or did)
while working for SSA?
This was fairly sophomoric, but a CR in our office
actually talked another CR into calling a “Seymour
Butts” back for an interview.
What was your biggest mistake (if you wish to
share it, even in general terms)?
Letting staff talk me out of conducting training
sessions because they were “too busy to be
We would like to thank all the Area
Representatives, and fellow members who have Rick Warsinskey
worked to help sign up the following people 1240 E. 9th St. Room 793
since the last update: Cleveland, OH 44199
Welcome to CSSMA:
Gail Boone, ADM, North Flint, Michigan
Gayle Eberhardt, OS, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Edward D’Felio, ADM, Grand Rapids, Michigan Hugh Stempfley
Joan Fafoglia, ADM. Springfield, Illinois Vice President
Charles Glover, OS, Lima, Ohio 1005 Factory Outlet Dr.
Lou Jazdzewski, OS, Janesville, Wisconsin
West Frankfort, IL
Robert Monohan, AWIC, Area 2, Wisconsin
Janet Nolan, MSS, Racine, Wisconsin 62896
Teri Thornton, OS, St. Paul, Minnesota
Congratulations to all new members and the
representatives and other members that helped
in the recruiting, especially to Area 2 Rep Brian
Gostomski. With the addition of the four new
members from Wisconsin, Brian is only one
short of 100%. Great Job, Brian. Vice President
502 E. Jefferson
Sadly we say good bye to the following retired Rockford, IL 61107
Carla Bowers, former DM, Chicago East, IL.
Jim Brolio, former ADM, Muskegon, Michigan
Barb Dover, former DM, Bay City, Michigan
Kay Eikenburg, former ASC, Canton, Ohio
Brian Johnson, former ADM, Fond Du Lac, WI Vonzella Howard
Pat Kriss, former DM, Columbus West, Ohio Secretary
Pete Kroeger, former ADM, Aurora, Illinois PO Box 441800
Larry Moore, former DM, Mansfield, Ohio Indianapolis, IN 46244
Dave Sprowls, former DM, Edina, Minnesota
Mary Swieca, former OS, Chicago Loop, Illinois
Oscar Vela, former DM, Hammond, Illinois
We wish then well, and hope they have a long Al Kares
and happy retirement. Although we do welcome Treasurer
back Pat and Larry as retiree members of 200 Hancock St.
CSSMA. Sandusky, OH 44870
Lastly, in memoriam, Sue Robinson-Matheson,
former DM, Milwaukee Downtown, Wisconsin, Roslyn Torella
who passed away February 17, 2004. Editor
1353 E. Market St.
Warren OH 44483