Jun 6, 2009

"Truth, Justice and the American People" -- I'm Not Being Sarcastic -- Read To The End

From: |||ODAR ODC

Sent: Friday, June 05, 2009 3:00 PM

Subject: Deputy Commissioner Broadcast for June

Deputy Commissioner Broadcast
Date: June 5, 2009

Subject: Disability Hearings Backlog Continues to Go Down

Incredible job, everyone. This is the fifth consecutive month that our pending has declined. Each of you is to be commended for your commitment to work down the disability hearings backlog. Your hard work and dedication are improving the lives of many Americans who are in dire need.

State of the Disability Backlog

Again in May, we exceeded our disposition target and continued to reduce the pending. We are now at 750,601 cases – a drop in the disability backlog of 5,506 cases. Our pending is currently at 10,212 cases below the fiscal year (FY) 2009 opening pending, and we are 3,999 cases below our end of the fiscal year goal.

Processing Time

Our processing time remained at 505 days in May. The fiscal year to date processing time is 494 days – 22 days below the revised fiscal year target of 516 days.

Moving Off the Low Performing Hearing Office List

Congratulations to the Seattle and Oklahoma City hearing offices for their increased productivity and hard work.

Hiring Update

By the end of the FY 2009, I expect that we will have hired an additional 959 new staff – over and above the hiring we do for attrition.

Earlier this year, we hired 140 new staff.

For the 710 new hires that we are presently working on, we have commitments from 88% of those we have made offers to and approximately 70% are already working in offices nationwide. All the Regions are stepping up to the plate to make the June 30 deadline.

Recently, the Commissioner gave us permission to hire an additional 109 new staff – 36 in the Regions and the remainder in Falls Church.

We have made 151 offers to new ALJs and hope to soon hire an additional 6. In October, we hope to hire an additional 25-50 new ALJs. Also, of great importance to our efforts to work down the disability backlog, is our ability to hire 208 new ALJs in FY 2010. We are working with OPM to get the ALJ register refreshed as soon as possible.

New ODAR Offices

We expect the offices to be completed and ready for occupancy by September 2010. Headquarters and the Regions are working well together to make this happen.

Hearing Offices

Akron,OH Madison,WI Tallahassee, FL

Auburn,WA Mt. Pleasant, MI Toledo, OH

Covington,GA Phoenix,AZ Topeka, KS

Fayetteville,NC St. Petersburg, FL Valparaiso, IN

Livonia, MI

Satellite Offices Office Expansions

Anchorage,AK Las Vegas, NV

Boise, ID Rochester, NY (satellite office)

Fort Myers, FL Sioux Falls, SD (satellite office)

Harlingen, TX

We are still working with the Regions to find space for all the centralized units.

Senate Finance Committee Hearing

The Senate Finance Committee hearing, originally scheduled for May 19, was postponed.

National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR)

In mid-May, I spoke to NOSSCR at their conference in Washington, DC, and shared with them a list of best practices for claimants’ representatives compiled from people in the Regions. They are posted at http://odar.ba.ssa.gov/odarweb/ocalj/Best_Practices.htm.

Disability Determination Services (DDS) Forum

The SSA/DDS Forum convened in Detroit last month was the first such national meeting to focus on the DDS/ODAR relationship. I have asked Robbie Watts, my Senior Advisor, to find ways to improve the relationship between ODAR and the DDSs.

Good Discussions with Unions

I have now personally met with representatives from each of the unions and our discussions have been very constructive.

Also, I have shared ODAR’s current Service Delivery Plan with them and intend to post the document to the Intranet in the near future, so all can see.

CD Burning Initiative

We are working with the Office of Systems to identify alternatives to the current CD burning process, which has caused many of our systems performance issues. We expect to implement the CD burning initiative in the 2nd quarter of FY 2010. I had hoped that we would have been able to move faster on this initiative.

I am committed to providing the information and resources necessary for you to carry out our mission. Thank you for your hard work and dedication. We should be very proud of our efforts to date. However, there still remains much to be accomplished.

David V. Foster

Deputy Commissioner

"Truth, Justice and the American People"


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Mr. Foster's enthusiasm seems a bit premature given the tsunami of applications currently in the initial and recon stages.

Perhaps the managment can solve the coming problem with more computers.

gregg said...

The link does not work for the best practices!!

Anonymous said...

Since this appears to have been an internal email, the link appears to be only usable from inside SSA's network.

Anonymous said...

Pending workload declined?Processing times,in my personal experince,is inaccurate.

Anonymous said...

The stats are probably accurate from a top down look It would be splendid if they admitted the extent to which dds and other components are being used to offload so called on records/informal remands, and the extent to which they are responsible for the change in backlog and decrease in age of cases at ODAR. Those resources are not exhaustible.

I am also sort of shocked by the claim that the agency held its first dds/ssa meeting focusing on the relationship of the organization. Nonsense, spin, lack of credibility, foolishness. Call it what you want. Organizational memories are notoriously short on some things, but not this short.

Anonymous said...

I am also super amused by the comment about the CD problem vis a vis system degradation. The solution is of course to encourage everyone to stop using cd burning and give anyone who wishes such a thing access to the electronic records express. Not only will you offload the impact of the cd burning, but you will cause an entirely nuther systems degradation problem FOR WHICH THEY ARE CLEARLY NOT YET READY


Anonymous said...

That man is sublimely stupid.

Anonymous said...

What leads you to the conclusion that Mr. Foster is stupid? He's actually a remarkably bright, witty and empathetic man. He has changed the course of the hearings and appeals component. He has begun his tenure by openly communicating to all employees -- and not allowing information to be pushed down through union reps who misinterpret and spin the reality. He has advocated for and received additional funding and resources to assist field employees in processing the most critical workloads in the agency. What have you done?

Anonymous said...

He also said at a meeting a few months ago that "backlogs are so yesterday," in his self-described best valley girl voice. I'd call that pretty stupid, though not sublimely so. He has communicated that he wants the backlogs eliminated, by any means necessary. Others can do the math on that one.