Jan 22, 2016

Central Offices Closed By Snowstorm

     Social Security's central offices in the Baltimore area will be closed today due to the snowstorm hitting the Northeast today.


Anonymous said...

Just wondering.

Since most ODAR employees can work from home up to three days per week, are employees in offices closed due to weather expected to work from home when the office is closed?

Anonymous said...

depends on which union.

NTEU/IFPTE, if office is closed and employee is scheduled at home they must work during office closure (unless they are on leave).

AFGE, if office is closed for full day, employee gets admin leave. If office is closed for only part of day, employee working at home must work full day (or use leave)

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested in learning more about the work from home issues and how it may play a role in impacting the backlog as well as the quality of the work.

I have received calls from employees working from home who say they cannot access the file to see that I have submitted a particular document.

I have had an ALJ tell me that there are times when they need something done in the context of a hearing and they have no staff there to do it.

Another ALJ has told me that when evidence comes in after the hearing is held, decision writers working from home may not see that evidence and therefore it isn't addressed in the decision, potentially opening the door for a bad decision depending on the evidence.

Are there significant limitations to the type and quality of work that can be done from home?

Anonymous said...

@ 1:56, I am a supervisor in ODAR

If ANY of the problems you noted are happening, there is a problem.

The technical issues are probably "operator error" as working from home provides EXACTLY the same access to files as in the office.

Staffing problems do occur, but are quite rare and typically happen because of people on leave or calling in sick. Where before, there would have been back-up in the office, often those people are at home now. But each office has been directed to keep enough people in the office to perform daily tasks (assuming people actually come in when they are supposed to).

Anonymous said...

We can do anything at home that can be done in the office, providing that the representative has scanned the information into the e-file.

Anonymous said...

How much does it cost us to send them all home?

Anonymous said...

7:55, 2:10, 3:13 are all correct

1:56, if ALJs are telling you this it is probably because they are old timers who can't get the computer to work.

If anything WAH is helping reduce the backlog. Just ask my many friends on the east coast who have to work through the storm while their in-office compatriots get admin leave.

Not seeing things recent submissions in the file seemed to be a problem a while ago. Something about a delay between the rep access server and the internal server, but I am quickly getting past the point where I know what I'm talking about, because I am not an IT person.

WAH is the future, it allows a lot more staff in a lot less space (almost all offices are going to shared office space for writers). One thing's for sure though, we're going to need more HOSAs and IT people to maintain all the infrastructure

Anonymous said...

Putting aside problems with technology, which can be fixed, studies show that people who work at home are more productive than those who work in the office. Part of the reason seems to be that people really like working from home and work their tails off so as not to lose the privilege.

I don't think working at home is affecting the backlog. If a decision writer is expected to produce, on average, X number of decisions in a week and his/her production is consistently below that number, I assume that some management action is taken. I also assume this happens whether the writer is working in the office or at home. Does low production result in the termination of working at home privilege?

I work in the private sector and telecommute part time and that is when I get most of my work done as there are too many interruptions in the office. I would telecommute full time if my "old timer" boss would allow it.

Anonymous said...

8:02 I agree fully. Yes, low production can result in telework suspension. Also agree that the office is full of interruptions. For some reason old timers view BSing in the office as a legitimate use of time and are suspicious that anyone can work at home without F'ing off all day. There is some assumption that it's not work unless you're miserable at the place your doing it.

Anonymous said...

It has become a confederacy of fools.... I had a 1:00 video case. I walked into the room and the HOSA was working with the equipment, relaying that the remote site could not be heard. She messed with it until 1:30, looked at her watch and said she was going to lunch and someone else would be down. At 1:50 I am calling the HOCALJ and HOD and by 2:30, I start my 1:00 case.

Anonymous said...

1:56 I have noticed lags in time from scanning evidence until it appears in the file but never anything more than an hour or so and that is an anomaly. Typically the evidence appears in the file within seconds.

likely an old timer that won't or has no idea how to instant message staff to get something done. In the electronic world there shouldn't be anything that couldn't be handled while teleworking. However, if it is an ALJ that expects staff to be their personal assistant and bow to their every whim, well, that will be an ongoing problem.

There's no reason why post hearing evidence wouldn't be seen by a decision writer, assuming it has been scanned into the file properly. If you used the wrong bar code it could end up in the wrong section of the file and could possibly be overlooked.

Teleworking access is the same as being at the office. The desktop on the laptop and all files are the same. The only difference for me is no interruptions while teleworking, hence increased productivity.

Anonymous said...

1:03 this will likely never change. Anyone that is remotely qualified to perform the duties of a HOSA, as the job is intended to be performed, can make 4 times the money a HOSA makes in the private sector. A GS-9, seriously? Is ODAR that out of touch? Apparently so, and this is why you have the quality of HOSA's that you have. I work in a rather large region and there is one HOSA in the region that is great at his job. If he lived in a metropolitan area I have to believe he would be long gone or never come to ODAR in the first place. My HOSA, I sometimes look at her and wonder how she finds her way to work every day? That in itself is a miracle.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if anyone is actively seeing this thread anymore. Just had an interesting conversation with an ODAR re our repeated inability to get in contact with a particular ALJs staff. Was told that the staff person is literally only in the office 6 days per month and the rest are work from home days. Is that even possible??

Apparently the staff are "supposed to" be checking their voice mails and such and responding to messages but that is obviously not happening. How can a person work as an assistant to an ALJ when they are unable to communicate in real time?

If the public only knew how much flexibility ODAR employees are given, I am sure they would be outraged. Perhaps we need to start having the CDIUs monitoring ODAR employees work at home activities instead of wasting time following claimants around. I wouldnt be surprised to find ODAR employees on flex place time actually holding other jobs. They clearly aren't doing the job they are being paid to do.

Unknown said...

Bunch of b.s

Eddie Yanez said...

Bunch of b.s