THE INSPECTOR GENERAL
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION’S
HIRING AND TRAINING OF
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SPECIALISTS
By conducting independent and objective audits, evaluations and investigations, we inspire public confidence in the integrity and security of SSA’s programs and operations and protect them against fraud, waste and abuse. We provide timely, useful and reliable information and advice to Administration officials, Congress and the public.
The Inspector General Act created independent audit and investigative units, called the Office of Inspector General (OIG). The mission of the OIG, as spelled out in the Act, is to:
Conduct and supervise independent and objective audits and investigations relating to agency programs and operations.
Promote economy, effectiveness, and efficiency within the agency.
Prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse in agency programs and operations.
Review and make recommendations regarding existing and proposed legislation and regulations relating to agency programs and operations.
Keep the agency head and the Congress fully and currently informed of problems in agency programs and operations.
To ensure objectivity, the IG Act empowers the IG with:
Independence to determine what reviews to perform.
Access to all information necessary for the reviews.
Authority to publish findings and recommendations based on the reviews.
We strive for continual improvement in SSA’s programs, operations and management by proactively seeking new ways to prevent and deter fraud, waste and abuse. We commit to integrity and excellence by supporting an environment that provides a valuable public service while encouraging employee development and retention and fostering diversity and innovation.
Date: March 15, 2010 Refer To:
To: The Commissioner
From: Inspector General
Subject: The Social Security Administration’s Hiring and Training of Information Technology Specialists (A-13-09-19082)
Our objective was to assess the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) human capital activities related to the hiring, training, and retention of staff who occupy the mission-critical position of information technology (IT) specialist.
SSA, like many other Federal agencies, is being challenged to address its human capital shortfalls. To minimize the impact of the loss of human capital and address expected workload increases, SSA plans to increase its use of automation to continuously provide superior services to the American public. The IT specialist, identified by SSA as 1 of its 15 mission-critical occupations, is crucial to the effective operation of the Agency’s present and future information systems.
As of June 30, 2009, approximately 3,715 (about 6 percent) of SSA’s 65,034 employees were classified as IT specialists. The Agency projects about 42 percent of its IT specialists will retire by Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. It is imperative that SSA focus on its human capital needs as its workloads increase and their complexity requires an increased level of expertise and skill.
There are 11 specialty titles for IT specialists. Specialty titles, as identified by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), are assigned to further identify the duties and responsibilities performed and the special knowledge and skills needed for the IT specialist position. In certain cases, specialty titles are combined when two specialties are significant to the position. Finally, the basic IT specialist position title is used when there is no established specialty area or for positions involving work in more than two established specialties. See Appendix B for OPM’s classifications for IT specialists.
During our review, we assessed certain human capital activities related to the IT specialist position. We reviewed the five Deputy Commissioner offices with the highest number of IT specialists. These offices included the Deputy Commissioners for Systems (DCS); Operations (DCO); Quality Performance (DCQP); Budget, Finance and Management (DCBFM); and Disability Adjudication and Review (DCDAR). See Table 1 for the distribution of IT specialists in these offices.
Table 1: Distribution of the Agency’s IT Specialists Among
OPM’s Position Specialty Titles
IT specialists in the five Deputy Commissioner offices we reviewed comprised approximately 94 percent of all IT specialists in the Agency. Since about 85 percent of the IT specialists reviewed are in DCS, our work results generally focused on the human capital activities of this office. See Appendix C for our Scope and Methodology. See Appendix D for additional background information on the IT specialists’ role at SSA.
RESULTS OF REVIEW
For the five Deputy Commissioner offices reviewed, we did not identify problems or concerns regarding the offices’ human capital activities related to the hiring, training, and retention of IT specialists. The offices reported using a multitude of efforts to attract, hire, train, and retain IT specialists.
HIRING OF IT SPECIALISTS
The five Deputy Commissioner offices reported using several hiring and recruitment initiatives to attract IT specialists to the Agency. In addition, we found the hiring of IT specialists in SSA was mostly a decentralized process with each component determining the skills its new hires should possess. Finally, we determined over the last 7 years, the components had hired approximately 1.3 new IT specialists for every one specialist who separated from the Agency.
DCS staff used a biennial internal Skills Inventory Analysis to determine the critical skills needed in the component. Based on this Analysis, DCS staff stated entry-level IT specialists possessing knowledge or experience in JAVA or COBOL/CICS are generally in the highest demand in the component. According to DCS staff, 190 IT specialists were hired with COBOL experience from FYs 2005 through 2008. In addition, 105 IT specialists have been trained in COBOL over the last 5 years. We requested information from DCS about the extent to which COBOL is still used in the Agency’s computer programs. Staff from DCS provided a timeline indicating the Agency intends to convert its COBOL systems to Web-based technology by the end of FY 2017. SSA expects to continue to be able to hire and/or train sufficient staff with COBOL experience to sustain Agency operations.
DCQP staff reported entry-level IT specialist positions generally require a basic knowledge of current commercial computer processing standards and techniques. Further, DCDAR staff stated the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for IT specialists in the component include experience in developing, testing, modifying, and documenting programming activities as well as experience in using Visual Basic and WebFocus.
To identify qualified candidates for employment as IT specialists, the Agency relies on employee referrals, email/mail submissions, and internal/external job postings. In addition, SSA uses such recruitment tools as the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP), Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP), Career Opportunities Training Agreements, and President Management Fellows Program to identify qualified candidates. Based on data provided by the Agency, we determined SSA hired 381 IT specialists under SCEP and FCIP during FYs 2005 through 2009. See Table 2 for more information.
Table 2: IT Specialists Hired Under SCEP and FCIP
The five Deputy Commissioner offices reported using a multitude of recruitment efforts to attract entry-level IT specialists. For example, DCS and DCBFM staff stated they participate in 20 to 30 local and national career fairs. DCS staff reported they target universities and colleges with strong IT curriculums for recruitment efforts. In addition, DCS staff explained they have established collegial relationships with local universities so students who are obtaining the knowledge necessary for DCS to carry out its mission are familiar with the office’s employment opportunities.
DCS staff explained that, for the last 3 years, the office has hosted an IT Job Shadow Day event to attract local high school students enrolled in IT programs with an interest in pursuing IT studies and careers. Students have toured SSA’s facilities, spoken with technical professionals and DCS executives, and participated in hands-on activities that were intended to provide students a firsthand look at a workday for an IT specialist at SSA.
Based on data provided by the Agency, we computed the number of IT specialists hired for the Deputy Commissioner offices reviewed and the number of IT specialists separated from these components. These personnel actions fluctuate significantly from year to year, with the majority of new hires occurring in DCS during FYs 2005 and 2009. In total, the components hired approximately 1.3 new IT specialists for every IT specialist who separated from the Agency over the 7-year period. See Table 3 for more information.
Table 3: Comparison of IT Specialists Hired and IT Specialists Separated
from the Five Components Under Review
DCS and DCO staff expressed concern over the impending retirement wave of IT specialists at the Agency. Yet, each of the five offices we reviewed indicated current IT specialist hiring efforts are adequate for meeting current workload needs and goals. However, DCO, DCQP, and DCBFM were not able to replace the number of IT specialists separated from those offices from FYs 2003 through 2009.
Future Staffing Needs
The Agency’s IT Systems Plan covers 2 FYs and documents the allocation of its resources, including IT specialists. Currently, DCS employees and contractors provide the technical support needed for carrying out initiatives identified in the Agency’s IT Systems Plan. DCS staff indicated the component’s hiring of IT specialists is often determined by the workyears required to address the Agency’s workloads included in the IT Plan. DCS staff also explained the component uses contractors for its IT
workloads, depending on whether there is additional funding in the DCS budget, or when unplanned or ad-hoc projects occur. DCS staff explained the office used approximately 4,539 IT contractor workyears during FYs 2005 through 2009. Based on the skills needed to fulfill initiatives included in the IT Plan, DCS determines its future staffing needs.
IT SPECIALIST TRAINING
The five Deputy Commissioner offices reported having a variety of training opportunities for their IT specialists. Staff from the components under review reported different training plans had been developed for entry-level and senior-level IT employees. Finally, the staff explained strategies for promoting knowledge sharing between entry- and senior-level employees before employees leave or retire from the Agency.
Generally, we found the Deputy Commissioner offices included in our review determined training needs of the entry-level IT specialists individually. IT specialist training depends on the position being filled as well as the specific employee’s knowledge and skills. A combination of centralized group training, "in house" Government courses, and private vendor training is offered for entry-level employees.
In DCS, entry-level new hires are automatically scheduled to complete a set of training classes. See Table 4 for the list of classes. Also, DCS’ Office of Systems’ Training, Communications and Recruitment Branch contacts the components in DCS to determine job-specific training needs for entry-level new hires. Using information provided by these offices, the Training, Communications and Recruitment Branch schedules job-specific training. The training may include courses listed in Table 5.
Table 4: Group Training Courses for Entry-Level IT Specialists
Group Training Classes Number of IT Specialists Who Completed Training
Title II/XVI Fundamentals 366
Customer Service 400
Overview of Web Technologies 319
Overview of Mainframe Languages and Technologies 383
Structured Writing for User Procedures and Systems Documentation 673
Team Building 147
Generation Mix 314
Table 5: Job-Specific Training Courses for Entry-Level IT Specialists
Job-Specific Training Number of IT Specialists Who Completed Training
COBOL Programming 105
Java Training 507
Websphere Training 728
DB2 Training 648
Requirements Analyst Training 428
Web Design Training 423
Cisco-related Training 22
DCO explained that its entry-level employees—who are hired from outside the Agency—are often mandated to complete training that provides information on general policy and the structure of SSA’s organization. In addition, the training is monitored, and the IT specialists are able to provide feedback. DCQP staff explained training for its IT specialists may be obtained through SSA-sponsored classroom and online sources, external vendors, and/or colleges and universities.
DCS’ Skills Analyses
DCS uses a skill analysis tool to determine where skill gaps exist and training and hiring are needed. DCS conducts a comprehensive skills inventory analysis (IT Workforce Survey) every 2 years to assess the skills of its IT specialist workforce. The most recent analysis was completed in 2008. The information obtained from the analysis is also used as a vehicle for recruitment and training.
During this process, DCS supervisors are asked to complete an IT Workforce Survey, and record the current competencies and targeted skills for each of their IT specialists. DCS supervisors also record future staff and contractor needs for each competency and targeted skill. The difference between the component’s future needs for the next 2 years and the current skills equate to competency gaps. DCS minimizes and/or closes competency gaps by training current staff and/or hiring new staff. See Table 6 for the top 10 competency gaps identified during the 2008 survey.
Table 6: DCS Top 10 Competency Gaps
Competency Number of Additional IT Specialists In Need of Competency
Web Technology 356
Problem Solving 352
Microsoft Desktop Tools 340
Oral and Written Communications 338
General Analytic Skills 289
Business Process Analysis 275
Computer Languages 245
Customer Relations/Service 243
Peer Review 240
According to DCS staff, competency gaps identified during the 2008 Survey have been closed. The gaps were closed as a result of hiring and training that took place in DCS in 2009. In some cases, an IT specialist who was hired may have possessed more than one of the needed competencies. DCS staff explained, “An employee’s ability to grasp the competency through training and on the job experience determines the length of time for [an] individual to become proficient. [DCS] provides basic training in all the competencies listed, as well as intermediate and advanced training in the computer language competencies. Proficiency varies on an individual basis.” See Table 7 for updated information.
Table 7: DCS’ Closure of Competency Gaps
Competency Gaps Identified in 2008 Employees Who Received Training in 2009 Employees Hired During 2009 Who Possessed Competency Number of Additional IT Specialists In Need of Competency
Websphere 385 130 293 -38
Web Technology 356 130 293 -67
Problem Solving 352 90 305 -43
Microsoft Desktop Tools 340 103 378 -141
Oral & Written Communications 338 239 272 -173
General Analytic Skills 289 22 272 -5
Business Process Analysis 275 89 272 -86
Computer Languages 245 307 326 -388
Customer Relations/Service 243 129 218 -104
Peer Review 240 0 326 -86
DCDAR staff explained training opportunities for senior-level IT specialists are generally the same as those for entry-level specialists. However, senior-level employees can attend Government-sponsored and/or vendor-provided training designed
exclusively for IT management staff. In DCS, team leaders, managers, and individuals in senior technical positions are required to complete a Management Leadership Curriculum (see Table 8 for details). DCS staff indicated 352 IT specialists completed the Management Leadership Curriculum over the last 5 years. In addition, DCS requires that its Project Managers for “executive oversight projects," complete a 19-day DCS Project Management Curriculum (see Table 9). DCS staff explained 58 IT specialists completed the Project Management Curriculum during FYs 2006 through 2009.
Table 8: DCS Management Leadership Curriculum
Training Courses Time Frame
Personnel Management Workshop - Nuts and Bolts for Managers 4 Days
Performance Management - Using the Performance Assessment and Communication System 2 Days
Customer Service and Coping with Change 1 Day
Effective Meetings and Winning Relationships 1 Day
Strategic Planning and Responding Not Reacting 1 Day
Successful Negotiating and Team Building 1 Day
Problem Solving and Goal Setting 1 Day
Coaching and Mentoring Roles in Leadership 1 Day
Table 9: DCS 19-Day Project Management Curriculum
Training Courses Time Frame
Project Management Workshop I: Microsoft Project and Introduction to Project Management 5 Days
Project Management Workshop II: Project Scope, Requirements, Time, and Cost 5 Days
Project Management Workshop III: Risk, Quality, and Communication 5 Days
Contracting Officer Technical Representative (Basic Project Officer) 4 Days
Staff in the five Deputy Commissioner offices we reviewed stated all IT specialists are given the opportunity to develop an Individual Development Plan. The staff explained the training needs are generally discussed between the IT specialist and his or her supervisor, as necessary.
To facilitate knowledge sharing between senior- and entry-level IT specialists, the Deputy Commissioner offices we reviewed assigned a senior-level mentor to each entry-level employee. DCS staff indicated the mentors were experienced IT specialists who were instructed to share knowledge with, guide, and review the work of entry-level IT specialists. In addition, DCDAR staff stated it encourages shared work assignments and cross-trains its IT specialists for several different IT job specialties. According to staff, cross-training employees minimizes competency gaps among IT specialists and mitigates employee turnover disruption.
In addition, both DCS and DCO use Windows SharePoint Services to facilitate the transfer of knowledge in the organization. SharePoint is a browser-based collaboration and document management platform. DCS staff stated they use the technology for document management with centralized storage, secure access, version control, content approval, reporting abilities, and real-time collaboration. In addition, a DCS staff member indicated by implementing SharePoint Agencywide, teams and staffs with similar functions are able to streamline and automate numerous processes, thereby reducing mistakes, wait times, and miscommunications.
RETENTION OF IT SPECIALISTS
The five Deputy Commissioner offices reported using several activities to retain their IT specialists including awards, training, promotional opportunities, and a special pay supplement to IT specialists.
Offices also report IT specialists are provided opportunities to expand the scope of their work. DCS staff explained different divisions within their office work under a matrix style of management, so employees are given the opportunity for variety and change, if requested. Likewise, the DCDAR staff stated “Our IT specialists are encouraged to participate in the continual surge of new developments and processes, which provides a forum for our IT specialists to be involved in various pilots and tests, and [remain] at the helm of new and leveraging technologies.”
In addition, SSA uses special salary rates to attract and retain IT specialists, as authorized by OPM. As stated in OPM guidance, “Employees [are] paid a special rate or a special pay supplement, established under appropriate authority to recruit or retain well qualified individuals in selected agencies, occupations, work levels and locations.” Effective January 1, 2010, IT specialists receive the following percentage supplements in addition to the General Schedule (GS) basic rates: 40 percent at the GS-5 level; 35 percent at the GS-7 level; 30 percent at the GS-9 level; and 20 percent at the GS-11 level.
DCS staff stated a collegial work environment, developmental opportunities, and a diverse/multi-cultural working environment are offered to IT specialists. These efforts in DCS are to retain its IT specialists.
In addition to these activities, staff from DCQP explained that telework and tuition reimbursement are retention initiatives offered to its IT specialists. The staff stated approximately 3.3 percent of its IT specialists participate in telework, while 10 percent have received tuition reimbursement for coursework directly related to their positions.
Analysis of information provided by SSA indicated most IT specialists who left the Agency were not transferring to other employers. Of the 1,240 IT specialists separated from the Agency over the last 7 years (see Table 2), we determined approximately 83 percent left the Agency because of retirement, health, or disciplinary actions. Only about 17 percent separated for other reasons.
We determined over the last 7 years, the components have hired approximately 1.3 new IT specialists for every one IT specialist who separated from the Agency. Based on our examination of data and discussions with SSA staff, the five Deputy Commissioner offices we reviewed have established human capital activities regarding the hiring, training, and retention of IT specialists. The offices reported using a multitude of efforts to attract, hire, train, and retain IT specialists. We encourage the offices to continue to periodically reassess their recruitment, training, and retention efforts to ensure the Agency has an IT specialist workforce to meet its current and future needs.
SSA did not have any comments on our findings. (See Appendix G for the full text of the Agency’s comments.)
Patrick P. O’Carroll, Jr.
APPENDIX A – Acronyms
APPENDIX B – Office of Personnel Management Classifications for Information Technology Specialists
APPENDIX C – Scope and Methodology
APPENDIX D –The Information Technology Specialists’ Role at the Social Security Administration
APPENDIX E – Overview of the Social Security Administration’s Information Technology Planning Process
APPENDIX F – Deputy Commissioner for Systems’ 2008 Information Technology Workforce Planning—Competencies and Targeted Skills
APPENDIX G – Agency Comments
APPENDIX H – OIG Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments
DCBFM Deputy Commissioner for Budget, Finance and Management
DCDAR Deputy Commissioner for Disability Adjudication and Review
DCO Deputy Commissioner for Operations
DCQP Deputy Commissioner for Quality Performance
DCS Deputy Commissioner for Systems
FCIP Federal Career Intern Program
FY Fiscal Year
GS General Schedule
IT Information Technology
OIG Office of the Inspector General
OPM Office of Personnel Management
SCEP Student Career Experience Program
SSA Social Security Administration
OIG Office of the Inspector General
SSN Social Security Number
Office of Personnel Management Classifications for Information Technology Specialists
In 2008, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) established 11 distinct specialties for the information technology (IT) specialist position. In its guidance, OPM stated, “The growing use of information technology throughout our economy has resulted in an unprecedented explosion in the demand for skilled IT workers.” An advantage of specialty titles is the ability to more easily identify the composition of the current IT population for IT workforce planning purposes and the ability to more readily link job titles with required competencies.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT, GS-2210
Information The specialties are ordered throughout this standard according to the system development life cycle management process. A general description of the relationships among the specialties is presented below:
• Policy and Planning – develop, implement, and ensure compliance with plans, policies, standards, infrastructures, and architectures that establish the framework for the management of all IT programs.
• Enterprise Architecture – analyze, plan, design, document, assess, and manage the IT enterprise structural framework to align IT systems with the mission, goals, and business processes of the organization.
• Security – plan, develop, implement, and maintain programs, polices, and procedures to protect the integrity and confidentiality of systems, networks, and data.
• Systems Analysis – consult with customers to refine functional requirements and translate functional requirements into technical specifications.
• Applications Software – translate technical specifications into programming specifications; develop, customize, or acquire applications software programs; and test, debug, and maintain software programs.
• Operating Systems – install, configure, and maintain the operating systems environment including systems servers and operating systems software on which applications run.
• Network Services – test, install, configure, and maintain networks including hardware (servers, hubs, bridges, switches, and routers) and software that permit the sharing and transmission of information.
• Data Management – develop and administer databases used to store and retrieve data and develop standards for the handling of data.
• Internet – provide services that permit the publication and transmission of information about agency programs to internal and external audiences using the Internet.
• Systems Administration – install, configure, troubleshoot, and maintain hardware and software to ensure the availability and functionality of systems.
• Customer Support – provide technical support to customers who need advice, assistance, and training in applying hardware and software systems.
Scope and Methodology
To accomplish our objective, we:
• Reviewed prior Government Accountability Office and Office of the Inspector General reports.
• Reviewed various Office of Personnel Management publications.
• Reviewed various Social Security Administration documents pertaining to Human Capital Planning.
• Interviewed Agency personnel familiar with the hiring, training, and retaining information technology (IT) specialists at the Agency.
• Requested and reviewed information from the five Deputy Commissioner offices with the highest number of IT specialists on staff at the Agency. These were the Offices of the Deputy Commissioners for Systems; Operations; Quality Performance; Budget, Finance and Management; and Disability Adjudication and Review. We assessed these offices’ practices, policies, and procedures regarding hiring, training, and retaining IT specialists. Specifically, we reviewed the Agency’s
procedures for hiring and recruiting IT specialists,
plans for ensuring new IT specialists are properly trained,
efforts to have experienced staff assist in training newly hired IT specialists before leaving or retiring from the Agency, and
plans for retaining IT specialists once trained.
The principal entities reviewed were the Offices of the Deputy Commissioners for Systems; Operations; Quality Performance; Budget, Finance and Management; and Disability, Adjudication and Review. We performed our review in Baltimore, Maryland, from April to September 2009. We conducted this review in accordance with the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency’s Quality Standards for Inspections.
The Information Technology Specialists’ Role at the Social Security Administration
The information technology (IT) specialists at the Social Security Administration (SSA) play a vital role in helping the Agency accomplish its goals. Below is a summary of the IT specialists’ functions in the five Deputy Commissioner offices included in our review.
Deputy Commissioner for Systems (DCS)
As of June 2009, DCS reported approximately 2,965 IT specialists on staff. DCS further reported these specialists contribute directly to the Agency's achievement of its strategic goals. The IT specialists in DCS provide the vast majority of the technical support needed to complete the maintenance, cyclical, carryover, and developmental projects included in the Agency's 2-year IT Systems Plan. Any project selected for inclusion in the IT Systems Plan must support the goals identified in the Agency’s Strategic Plan.
Examples of projects selected for inclusion in the Fiscal Year 2009 - 2010 Plan include the iClaim rollout, Ready Retirement releases, Representative Payee System redesign, Compassionate Allowance releases, etc.
Deputy Commissioner for Operations (DCO)
As of June 2009, DCO reported approximately 275 IT specialists on staff. DCO reported the IT specialists develop regional workload management tools. In addition, DCO staff explained the specialists provide technical systems support and serve as subject matter experts for new automated processes that include (but are not limited to) Ready Retirement and iClaim. Finally, IT specialists in regional locations provide a vital layer of network support to several thousand users in the regions. By supporting day-to-day operations of the network in the regions and implementation of important infrastructure upgrades, these IT specialists enable thousands of employees to serve the public.
IT specialists in DCO also provide support for the transition from paper to electronic folders by streamlining and automating case tasks to decrease the time it takes to prepare and send notices, schedule hearings, and transfer workloads.
Deputy Commissioner for Quality Performance (DCQP)
As of July 2009, DCQP reported approximately 97 IT specialists on staff. Further, DCQP reported its IT specialists were indirectly involved in supporting all the Agency's strategic goals, since the component has major responsibilities for evaluating and advancing quality activities in SSA. Several automation tools developed by DCQP assist the Agency in developing and processing disability and overpayment cases. According to DCQP staff, these tools have proven to be critical in improving the quality and efficiency of field office claims and development activities.
DCQP staff further explained its IT specialists are directly involved in the Access to Financial Information project. The specialists provide support for the workstations and networks used by Access to Financial Information team members; support the analysis of data associated with the pilot; and provide expert consultation on such topics as database architecture and systems security.
Deputy Commissioner for Budget, Finance, and Management (DCBFM)
As of July 2009, DCBFM reported approximately 76 IT specialists on staff. Further, DCBFM reported that, as an Agency support component, its IT specialists primarily contribute to achieving the Agency's strategic goals by supporting end-users, back-end services, and applications used SSA-wide, such as SSA's Streamlined Acquisition, Budget Execution, Online Accounting and Reporting, Managerial Cost Accounting Systems, and Electronic Government.
DCBFM staff stated its IT specialists also contribute to achieving Agency strategic goals by supporting SSA’s Digital Library and by working closely with disability determination services and hearing offices to improve Digital Library response times.
Deputy Commissioner for Disability Adjudication and Review (DCDAR)
As of June 2009, DCDAR reported approximately 74 IT specialists on staff, including
8 specialists in DCDAR headquarters, 10 specialists in regional offices, and
56 specialists in field locations. DCDAR staff explained its IT specialists in headquarters automate administrative applications that replace manual or paper processes used in DCDAR, including workload summary reports, statistical indexes, on-line surveys, and ad hoc reports for workload management purposes that supplement standard management information derived through case processing. In addition, IT specialists in DCDAR’s Division of Security develop and implement component-specific security policies and procedures and provide security support and guidance to DCDAR personnel nationwide.
In the regions, DCDAR's IT specialists act as coordinators for all electronic folder design and implementation activities for their regions, represent management in a full-range of electronic workload initiatives, and direct major projects that introduce new equipment, case handling, and training efforts to enhance electronic case processing. In addition, the IT specialists diagnose and fix systems-related problems associated with various electronic initiatives, monitor performance of processes in offices, and oversee and support the introduction of new equipment to support electronic processes.
Finally, in field locations, DCDAR’s IT specialists upload documents through the electronic folder process, act as a central coordination point for administrative law judge electronic signature administration and support, and implement and support central printing operations to lessen the need for notice preparation in hearing offices.
Overview of the Social Security Administration’s Information Technology Planning Process
Below is an overview of the Agency’s Information Technology (IT) Planning Process. IT planning is the effort to allocate Agency resources associated with its IT processes. This allocation includes both Agency employees and contractor resources. At present, the Agency’s IT planning efforts are focused on employees in the Office of Systems and contractors funded through the IT systems budget.
BVS Benefit Value Score
CBA Cost Benefit Analysis
ITAB Information Technology Advisory Board
Deputy Commissioner for Systems’ 2008 Information Technology Workforce Planning—Competencies and Targeted Skills
Every 2 years, the Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Systems (DCS) conducts an Information Technology (IT) Workforce Survey Analysis to assess the skills of its IT specialist workforce. The most recent analysis was completed in 2008. During the analysis, all DCS supervisors are asked to complete a survey and record the current competencies and targeted skills for each of their IT specialists. The difference between the component’s future needs for the next 2 years and the current skills equate to competency gaps. See the list below for the complete listing of future competencies and targeted skills used to assess DCS’ 2008 IT specialist workforce.
Analysis and Design
Business Process Analysis, General Analytic Skills, Information Architecture and Design, Regression Testing, Requirements Engineering, System Design (Logical & Physical), User Centered Design
Configuration Management, Data Management, Data Management-XML, Database Administration, Distributed Systems, Infrastructure Design, IT Architecture, IT Performance Assessment, LAN Administration, Network Management, Systems Integration, Telecommunications
Financial Management, Human Resource Management, Leadership/Managerial, Performance Assessments, Process/Change Management, Strategic Thinking
Accessibility, Audio Visual Expertise, Customer, Relations/Service, Education & Training, Facilities Management, General Office Support, Graphical Presentations, Group Facilitation, Human Resource Support, Knowledge Management, Microsoft Desktop Tools, Multimedia Technologies, Oral and Written Communications, Organizational Development, Problem Solving, Product Evaluation, Team Building, Technical Writing, Technology Awareness
Contracting/Contract Management, Earned Value Analysis, MS Project, Peer Review, Planning, Program Management, Project Management, Systems Life Cycle/Software Development
SSA Business/Systems’ Knowledge
Debt Management Knowledge, Disability Knowledge, Earnings Knowledge, Enumeration Knowledge, Financial Knowledge, Human Resources Knowledge, Management Information/Work Measurement Knowledge, Medicare Knowledge, Title II Knowledge, Title XVI Knowledge
Continuity of Operations Planning, Disaster Recovery, Encryption, Information Systems Security Certification, Network Security, Risk Management, Security Related Software Administration
Systems Management and Operations
Capacity Management, Hardware, Hardware-System I, Help Desk Support, Imaging/Image Management, Monitoring Tools, Operating Systems, Operations Support, Storage Management, Systems Integration Testing, Systems Software Maintenance
Artificial Intelligence, CMM Compliant Processes, Computer Languages, Database Application Development, Document Management, Geographic Information Systems, Object Oriented Application Development, Quality Assurance/Quality Control, Reporting Tools, Software Engineering, Software Evaluation, Software Testing, Software Validation, Usability Testing
Web Development Technology
e-Commerce, Web Technology, Websphere
ALC (Assembler Language Code), COBOL, Cold Fusion, Customer Information Control System (CICS), Java, Job Control Language (JCL), PowerBuilder
CA/IDMS Database Administration, Content Manager, DB2 Database Administration, MADAM, Object Access Method (OAM), Oracle Database Administration
Database Application Development
DB2 Application Development, IDMS Application Development
Date: March 2, 2010 Refer
Refer To: S1J-3
To: Patrick P. O'Carroll, Jr.
From: Margaret J. Tittel /s/
Acting Chief of Staff
Subject: Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Draft Report, “ The Social Security Administration’s Hiring and Training of Information Technology Specialists” (A-13-09-19082)--NFORMATION
Thank you for the opportunity to review and comment on the draft report. We appreciate your efforts in conducting this review and are pleased that you found that we have an effective hiring, training, and retention strategy for Information Technology Specialists. We do not have any comments on the report findings.
Please let me know if we can be of further assistance. Please direct staff inquiries to
Ms. Candace Skurnik, Director, Audit Management and Liaison Staff, at extension 54636.
OIG Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments
Shirley E. Todd, Director, Evaluation Division
Randy Townsley, Audit Manager
In addition to those named above:
Nicole Gordon, Auditor
For additional copies of this report, please visit our web site at www.socialsecurity.gov/oig or contact the Office of the Inspector General’s Public Affairs Staff Assistant at (410) 965-4518. Refer to Common Identification Number
Commissioner of Social Security
Office of Management and Budget, Income Maintenance Branch
Chairman and Ranking Member, Committee on Ways and Means
Chief of Staff, Committee on Ways and Means
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Social Security
Majority and Minority Staff Director, Subcommittee on Social Security
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on the Budget, House of Representatives
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives
Chairman and Ranking Minority, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations,
House of Representatives
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Finance
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Social Security Pensions and Family Policy
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Senate Special Committee on Aging
Social Security Advisory Board
Overview of the Office of the Inspector General
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is comprised of an Office of Audit (OA), Office of Investigations (OI), Office of the Counsel to the Inspector General (OCIG), Office of External Relations (OER), and Office of Technology and Resource Management (OTRM). To ensure compliance with policies and procedures, internal controls, and professional standards, the OIG also has a comprehensive Professional Responsibility and Quality Assurance program.
Office of Audit
OA conducts financial and performance audits of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) programs and operations and makes recommendations to ensure program objectives are achieved effectively and efficiently. Financial audits assess whether SSA’s financial statements fairly present SSA’s financial position, results of operations, and cash flow. Performance audits review the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of SSA’s programs and operations. OA also conducts short-term management reviews and program evaluations on issues of concern to SSA, Congress, and the general public.
Office of Investigations
OI conducts investigations related to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in SSA programs and operations. This includes wrongdoing by applicants, beneficiaries, contractors, third parties, or SSA employees performing their official duties. This office serves as liaison to the Department of Justice on all matters relating to the investigation of SSA programs and personnel. OI also conducts joint investigations with other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies.
Office of the Counsel to the Inspector General
OCIG provides independent legal advice and counsel to the IG on various matters, including statutes, regulations, legislation, and policy directives. OCIG also advises the IG on investigative procedures and techniques, as well as on legal implications and conclusions to be drawn from audit and investigative material. Also, OCIG administers the Civil Monetary Penalty program.
Office of External Relations
OER manages OIG’s external and public affairs programs, and serves as the principal advisor on news releases and in providing information to the various news reporting services. OER develops OIG’s media and public information policies, directs OIG’s external and public affairs programs, and serves as the primary contact for those seeking information about OIG. OER prepares OIG publications, speeches, and presentations to internal and external organizations, and responds to Congressional correspondence.
Office of Technology and Resource Management
OTRM supports OIG by providing information management and systems security. OTRM also coordinates OIG’s budget, procurement, telecommunications, facilities, and human resources. In addition, OTRM is the focal point for OIG’s strategic planning function, and the development and monitoring of performance measures. In addition, OTRM receives and assigns for action allegations of criminal and administrative violations of Social Security laws, identifies fugitives receiving benefit payments from SSA, and provides technological assistance to investigations.