Social Security Administration 2011 Deming Award Winner

The Public Manager, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

Social Security Administration 2011 Deming Award Winner


Faced with a rapidly expanding workload to review the nation's disability claims, staff turnover, and a technology transition, the Social Security Administration's Office of Appellate Operations (OAO) had to make big changes in its training approach. The radical alterations it made to prepare 400 new legal analysts earned the organization the 2011 W. Ed-wards Deming Award, which is presented annually by the Graduate School USA to a federal government organization for training initiatives that measurably improve performance.

The winners cut the training program from eight to six weeks and reduced the waiting time for thousands of Americans seeking critical disability benefits.

"OAO developed a fully interactive training course, integrating legal, medical, and technical aspects of disability claims review," said office executive Judge Gerald Ray. "Continual feedback from the trainees, changes to course materials, [the hiring of ] instructors based on this feedback, consistent mentoring, and careful monitoring of performance following training efforts resulted in a substantially reduced training curve, with measurable improvements in both quality and productivity."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

As Albert Einstein stated, "We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." Our training was redesigned with this wisdom in mind. We developed an active, lively, pragmatic, results-driven six-week course. …

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