The SSA faces formidable challenges in attempting to continue to provide its services predominantly through face-to-face personal interactions. In the years and decades ahead, its chief challenges will be the need to be prompt and reliable, to guarantee security and privacy in its transactions, to support the accurate execution of extremely large numbers of transactions, and to offer its services in ways that are convenient to the client, yet efficient. IT and electronic services are the more likely vehicles for meeting these challenges and for executing an effective campaign to provide an expanding portfolio of services to larger and increasingly diverse users. The SSA and its clients cannot afford to allow cultural impediments to keep the agency from embracing the changes that are so clearly needed and indicated.
Mechanisms such as monitoring and observing the societal context, keeping track of technology, establishing quantitative goals, putting in place effective measurement vehicles, and maintaining close, cordial, and continuous ties with all user communities support continuous change and process transformation within organizations. Although pursuing the creation of these mechanisms seems essential, a more urgent need is an appraisal of the SSA’s readiness to pursue them. This report suggests an immediate examination of the agency’s management structure, its decision-making processes, and its organizational culture, to ensure that all are poised to support the shift toward a culture that continuously strives to meet effectively the manifold pressures for change.
Although the challenges outlined in this report are numerous and sizable, the committee is confident that they are not insurmountable for the SSA. The committee’s investigations made it clear that the SSA and its people are firmly dedicated to meeting beneficiaries’ needs with enthusiasm and professionalism. Their dedication to their mission seems absolute and unwavering. This report is offered in the spirit of advice to dedicated professionals regarding opportunities to do ever better in meeting continually growing challenges.