Grassroots Committee Report for 2008 by twoturntables

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									                        Grassroots Committee Report for 2008

This past year this Grassroots committee continued to focus on trying to get SSA the best
budget it could. Right after the 2007 Annual Meeting there was a final push on the 2007
budget for SSA. This push included extensive contacts with the Hill. The end result was
that SSA received $148 million over the President’s proposed budget for SSA for FY
2008.

This year the committee has provided strong support to not only try to get the President’s
budget proposed for FY 2008 but an amount that was higher so that the necessary funds
would be available to address the massive hearings backlog and degradation of services
in the Field.

A number of White Papers were prepared that provided talking points for the members
and the SSA Advocacy Group. Using these talking points hundreds of contacts were
made with members of Congress and the Press. There have been over 200 articles
published this year on SSA challenges.

The Grassroots committee assisted in surveying members this year on a number of issues
that were used to make our case for a better budget. The committee assisted in assisting
in NCSSMA testifying three times this year to the House Appropriations Committee, the
House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee and the Senate Finance
Committee.

The committee also assisted in meetings on the Strategic plan, OMB and SSAB.

All and all it was a very active year for the committee. The work will continue the rest of
this year until we get a final FY 2009 budget. Then work will move onto the FY 2010
budget.
                              Disability Committee Report for 2008

During the last fiscal year, the Disability Committee was able to provide comments and
input for the following POMS IRD items:

      DI 11005.055 on the SSA 827
      GN 03101.125 & SI 04005.035 on the iAppeals process
      MSOM on Internet Disability Reports (IDR) enhancements
      DI 25501.ff on consolidating and clarifying policy on the subchapter topic of
       onset
      DI 13015.265 & DI 28075.200 on instructions for processing uneffectuated or
       overdue Medical Cessations
      GN 03102.425 regarding Reconsideration Notices of Determination
      SM 00385.006 on completion of the EF101 or A101 for amended awards
      MSOM on T2 & T16 WMI to support QDD
      MSOM on the Revised Ticket to Work provisions
      DI 52001.125 & DI 52001.135 on Workers Compensation issues that clearly
       define the FO’s role/responsibility in PE situations

                                  OTHER ACTIVITES

I am representing NCSSMA on the Disability Direct Streamline Applications
Workgroup, which met in person earlier this year in June. The workgroup contains
Central Office policy people from a number of organizations, SSA Field office
components, ODAR (including an ALJ), and DDS representation. The goal of that
workgroup is to simplify the i3368 so that more claimants will use online services. This
will help mitigate staffing pressures on SSA, and enable service goals to be met as higher
workload forecasts are realized in the coming years. The i3368 will contain conditional
pathing i.e.--many questions appear ONLY if prior answers predicate a need for those
questions. In addition, claimants will not be asked the same questions more than once.
For example, when they type in their name or address; it will propagate to any other
places where that information is needed. It will be a seamless part of the internet
Disability application itself, and questions answered within the internet "claim" will
propagate to the i3368. Claimants filing online will not be aware that two forms are
being completed. In addition, when a form such as the i3368 is changed, it's changed
across the board. Changes to the i3368 will also mean the same changes to the EDCS
3368 and to the paper SSA 3368. A preliminary modified form SSA 3368/i3368 has
been created. There is consensus agreement among the components represented in the
workgroup that the streamlined form contains sufficient information for DDS examiners
and downstream components, to: (a.) have a good "picture" of the claimant-- allegations,
sources, work history etc.; and (b.) be able to formulate an effective case development
plan in a disability claim. I anticipate that the form will be ready for IRD comments in
the near future.
                     Labor Relations Committee Report for 2008

With the first full year of experience with the Performance Assessment and
Communication System (PACS) and the beginning of negotiations for a new labor
relations contract, the Labor Relations Committee had some activity this past year. We
anticipate that activities for this committee will increase in FY 2009 because there will be
another year of experience with PACS and award recognition under it.

In addition to the assignment of the two Resolutions passed at the 2007 NCSSMA’s
Annual Meeting, the Labor Relations Committee was involved in providing feedback to
the workgroup for the 2009 SSA/AFGE National Contract negotiations. NCCSMA was
invited to have a representative on the Contract Workgroup, and Bob Barth, a member of
the Labor Relations Committee with significant experience was selected as our
representative.

The Labor Relations Committee solicited input from the membership about specific
contract concerns and suggested contract revisions to be communicated to the Contract
Workgroup. In late February, the Labor Relations Committee drafted a communication
on behalf of NCSSMA to the Contract Workgroup Chair. NCSSMA appreciated the
opportunity to participate in the strategy and planning for the 2009 SSA/AFGE National
Contract negotiations. The vast majority of managers was pleased with the current
contract and felt it significantly improved our ability to manage our offices while still
providing appropriate benefits for our bargaining unit employees. NCSSMA outlined
several specific provisions that they would like to see modified in the current labor
agreement, which affect management’s ability to provide quality, timely service.

The Operations Contract Workgroup met in Kansas City on March 19 and 20 and Bob
Barth represented NCSSMA.
                 Management Structure Committee Report for 2008

The Management Structure Committee evolved from the Management Structure
Workgroup which was formed at the conclusion of NCSSMA’s 2004 Annual Meeting
basically because of the continuing frustration of field office management with the
management structure within which they were require to function. For those who may
have forgotten, the problems with field management structure, many of which persist to
the present day, can be traced back to the failed and discredited so-called delayering
process of the early to mid-1990s. NCSSMA opposed the program from its inception and
few federal agencies took the process seriously, much less to the extreme. SSA was the
one glaring exception. At SSA the program was prosecuted with fanatical vigor.
Ironically even here it did not really result in fewer layers. The major impact of
delayering in SSA was to decimate the management structure in field offices.

During the delayering frenzy at SSA field office management ranks were depleted by
more than 1400 positions. The Assistant District Manager position was all but abolished.
The MSS position was developed essentially as a gambit to stop the bleeding. This was
compounded by the wholesale upgrading of thousands of CR’s (3400 counting the SDW
Cadre) to the GS-12 TE position.

At the beginning of Jo Ann Barnhart’s term as Commissioner, when she indicated her
intention to develop a new performance appraisal system, NCSSMA made it very clear to
her that any new system that required more intense supervisory involvement could not
possible succeed with the supervisory ratios then existent.
Not coincidentally with the roll out of PACS we saw a move away from the MSS
position to the OS position.

All this notwithstanding, the same frustrations that led to the creation of the Management
Structure Workgroup in 2004 and its evolution into the current committee, still largely
exist today:

      There is still no clear career path for field management.
      Many of the people in the field management structure not have supervisory
       responsibilities.
      OS’s frequently supervise TE’s who are paid more than they are.
      Management personnel still generally make less money on overtime than those
       they supervise.
      Most significantly, while the grades of those we supervise and those that
       supervise us have risen over the years, as have the grades of regional and Central
       Office staff personnel, the grade structure of field office management has
       generally stagnated.
   
With the foregoing as background the focus of the Management Structure Committee
over recent years, based on the sense of the organization as expressed through resolutions
adopted at our Annual Meeting, has been to pursue classification equity for field and TSC
management positions.

 The resolutions that the Management Structure Committee was charged with
 over the past year dealt with opposing OPM’s effort to change the classification
guidelines for General Schedule managers and supervisors. The proposed new
guide entitled the Supervisory Position Evaluation Guide (SPEG) would, in all three of its
 drafts over the past year and a half, effectively decimate the grade structure of field office
 management and supervisory positions. NCSSMA and the Agency have led the way in
 opposing the proposed guide. (You can read the specifics in the final report of the
 Management Structure Committee on Resolution 14.)

The pursuit of reclassification, based on the sense of NCSSMA as expressed in the
resolutions directives, has revolved around the Operations Supervisor position. In
September, 2005 NCSSMA met with the DCO to discuss its contention that some DM
positions could be reclassified to the GS-15 level and that the OS position could be
reclassified to the GS-13. NCSSMA presented two papers showing how each of the
reclassifications was possible under OPM’s current classification standards. While the
DCO indicated that she did not agree with our analysis, but in any case she did not intend
to pursue these particular upgrades during her tenure.

So what we are left with is the SPEG, which could change everything, still awaiting
disposition, and no hope of moving the OS or DM position in a positive direction under
current leadership. It is the belief of the Management Structure Committee that the
causes which compelled its creation still exist and if anything are more critical. We are
monitoring the SPEG issue and as directed will take and/or recommended further action
if warranted to prevent its negative consequences. As for pursuing the reclassification of
some DM’s to the GS-15 and the OS position to the GS-13 we await and rely on the one
constant in SSA –change.
                         NCSSMA Service Delivery Committee
                                  2008 Report

The Service Delivery committee activities have continued to focus on eServices in 2008.
The four resolutions assigned to the committee from the October 2007 NCSSMA meeting
in Philadelphia all concerned online services. Specifically, members wanted NCSSMA to
work with central office to make online services more user-friendly and to expand the
services available online and to improve the marketing of online services. Committee
members have served on regional and national workgroups and assisted in providing
information and feedback to the National eService Advisory Council and the Internet
Coordinators workgroup on proposed software changes and marketing initiatives. During
2008 the socialsecurity.gov website redesign was released and the iClaim project, which
has streamlining as a primary objective, is poised to release new claims for retirement
and survivor benefits. The disability portion is scheduled for FY 2009. Service Delivery
committee members have provided and continue to feedback on the questions and format
of both of these initiatives. The Office of Communication’s Online Services Market
Place was established to provide a place for managers to secure marketing information
and materials for online services. NCSSMA representatives on workgroups provided
suggestions and feedback from the earliest stages of the development of this resource.
These workgroup members have also been part of the discussion of how new services are
to be marketed and how the decisions are made about a nationalized approach versus a
local approach when increasing public aware of online service options.

A big concern of the membership has been not only training Third Party Fee for Services
Representatives, but also requiring these filers to use online services to file claims or
appeals. This discussion has been initiated by workgroup members and NCSSMA EC
members throughout 2008 in Regional offices, Central office and in Congressional
offices. The issue has received attention nation wide and all regions have Third Party
eServices training initiatives. In addition there is pending legislation to among other
things, require third parties to use online services.

For 2009 the Service Delivery committee will continue to provide information and
feedback to decision makers in all service delivery areas.
                      Staffing and Training Committee Reports

The Staffing and Training Committee addressed a number of other issues as they arose
during FY08.
TIME IN GRADE -- The committee drafted a position paper in opposition to the
proposal to provide more management flexibility to reduce the Time In Grade
requirement for promotion eligibility. We urged retention of the present system because
it is fair, manageable, and realistic.




OIG TRAINING SURVEY
The OIG conducted a survey of trainees from FOs regarding the quality of their training
experience. The survey found that most employees found that SSA provided training
timely and effectively. OIG went on to identify barriers to effective training. The
barriers were lack of hand-on training, more time was needed for training, and that
employees needed to understand from local management that they should be able to
communicate their training needs. The staffing and training committee response to the
Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Training was an acknowledgement that there is a
need to improve FO training of technical employees (as reflected in recent NCSSMA
Surveys of Management) and that we agree with the three recommendations. The
committee report also identified flaws to the OIG study which were that it did not
distinguish between ongoing employee training and training for new hires or recently
promoted employees and that there was no objective data, such as a basic skills test, to
support the survey findings.
HIDDEN WORKLOADS
In response to the DCO’s inquiry into hidden workloads in field offices, the Staffing and
Training Committee used the results from a special survey of management to draft a
position paper to the DCO. The paper included a list of workloads that are not captured
in any management information system, a summary of work that is critically backlogged,
opportunity costs, and overemphasis of production at the expense of quality.
                      T2 Operations Committee Report for 2008

The T2 Operations Committee kept very busy this year with many significant changes in
the T2 program. We have reviewed and provided input on a number of items this year,
most notably, the items listed below. The following is a list of the key issues and
initiatives we addressed this year.

      Streamlined Proof of Age and Citizenship
      New MOE Policy
      Proposed Questionable Retirement (QR) Policy Change
      Direct Express
      Personal Conference via Telephone
      Removal of Collateral Verification for some SS5s
      eVerify
      New SS5 Shipment Process
      iAppeals
      MMA and IRMA Changes

The committee reviewed and submitted several streamlining and legislative changes for
consideration during the year and many of these are under consideration. In fact, one that
was submitted last year was adopted and recently announced in PolicyNet. This is the
new $1000 administrative waiver tolerance for overpayments. Another policy issue that
we worked hard to change is the capability of SRs to certify and code proofs into the
Shared Process screens. With the advent of iClaims and eServices, I think we will
continue to see streamlined T2 policy. FY 2009 should prove to be another very exciting
year!

It was a great year with many changes and more to come. My thanks go out to the T2
committee members for the countless hours they have spent reviewing and analyzing
these proposals.
Dawn Stewart NESSMA, Dominick Pratico NYMS, Rita Hobson PRMA, Sue King
CSSMA, Tahnee Koch DRMA, Elizabeth Poston KCMA, Jo Ann Russ DRSSMA, Susan
Durand ARMA, Becky Smetana NWMA, Jeff Barta TSC, and Deputy Chair Barbara
Groberg SFRMA.


Respectfully submitted,
Billie Armenta
T2 Operations Committee Chair
                      TXVI Operations Committee Report for 2008

With over 30 requests for review since March, this has been a busy year for committee
members. We always appreciate the opportunity to make comments but wish the time
was allowed on some items was not so short. I’d like to thank the committee members
for their time spent on the reviews and very much appreciate their efforts. Hopefully the
number of review items in each IRD evens out over time.

Respectfully submitted,
Pete Jaudegis TXVI Operations Committee Chair

								
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