The recommendations above are subordinate to what the committee sees as a more general and overarching need: that the SSA embrace change as a constant factor in the way that it does business. Particularly as change continues in the various domains of SSA involvement, it will become increasingly important for the SSA to devote attention and resources to being well informed about the nature and ramifications of these changes, both for itself and for its various user groups, including beneficiaries. Although the SSA does pay attention to change and seeks advice externally and internally, there are opportunities to use that advice more systematically as a basis for sustained and effective action. Broader and more systematic attention to anticipating and addressing change is warranted.

Finding: The SSA faces significant ongoing change—in terms of technology, demographics, and public expectations—as it carries out its activities, services, and interactions with a variety of user communities.

Recommendation: The SSA should embrace change as a constant. It should regularly evaluate emerging trends in such areas as technology (for example, database technologies) and business practices (for example, by learning from the experiences of financial institutions and moving toward the use of strategic partnerships for efficiency and effectiveness). It should also regularly evaluate the changing societal attitudes and expectations of its various user communities. The SSA should also institutionalize the formulation of strategies for addressing these trends.

Although the challenges outlined in this report are numerous and sizable, the committee is confident that they are not insurmountable for the SSA. Throughout the course of the committee’s work, it has been 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 about how they address the opportunities that exist for meeting continually growing challenges.

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