Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 1 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 6 (7 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Article Stats   15 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

A Secret Plan to Close Social Security's Offices and Outsource Its Work

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 3 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 5   News 5   Supported 4  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H1 6/24/14

Cross-posted from Campaign For America's Future

From flickr.com/photos/27438131@N08/5964987080/: Caravan to Restore the American Promise
Caravan to Restore the American Promise
(image by citizenactionny)


For months there have been rumors that the Social Security Administration has a "secret plan" to close all of its field offices. Is it true? A little-known report commissioned by the SSA the request of Congress seems to hold the answer. The summary document outlining the plan, which is labeled "for internal use only," is unavailable from the SSA but can be found here.

Does the document, entitled "Long Term Strategic Vision and Vision Elements," really propose shuttering all field offices? The answer, buried beneath a barrage of obfuscatory consultantese, clearly seems to be "yes." Worse, the report also suggests that many of the SSA's critical functions could soon be outsourced to private-sector partners and contractors.

Here are five insights from this austerity-minded outline.

1. This is death by jargon.

The Social Security Administration has contracted with an entity called The National Academy of Public Administration, or NAPA, to "conduct a study and submit a high-level plan proposing a long-range strategic vision." The seven-member panel conducting the study includes current and former employees of government contractors IBM, Cisco, and Grant Thornton, as well as career bureaucrats and the editor of Government Executive magazine.

The panel's four-page overview lays down a nearly impenetrable barrage of consultant-speak. This is a language in which "smaller workforce" means "layoffs" and "reduced physical infrastructure" is a euphemism for "closing field offices." It is a language in which goals, objectives, strategies and tactics are reduced to a pulpy mash of undifferentiated "vision elements." The language is rich in booster-ish phrases like this one: "Stress program integrity in everything we do." (As opposed to, you know, not doing that.)

For most of its four pages the document's runic language artfully dodges the question at hand, preferring instead to inform the public of such need-to-know information as the fact that "we embrace change and reward managed risk." It is not until the final page that the bomb is dropped, surrounded by a cloud of verbal decoys. The key phrase: "Our communication and business practices enable a dispersed workforce that is no longer working in centralized, traditional offices."

"Centralized, traditional offices." Or, as the rest of the world calls them, "offices."

The document suggests that Social Security's administrative functions will be transferred online, allowing for human contact only "in very limited circumstances." Even in those cases it appears that the default options will be telephone calls and online chats, together with rare meetings with personnel who may be housed in the offices of other agencies -- or, conceivably, private corporations.

2. The SSA isn't resisting congress' brutal cuts.

Despite the fact that a Democratic president is running the executive branch, the Social Security Administration appears to be accepting the harsh budget cuts imposed upon it by Congress with an air of surprising passivity. This is puzzling. Social Security is an enormously successful and popular program. Historically, only conservative Republicans have urged cuts to its administrative budget. Those cuts are already frustrating the public and undermining public confidence in the program. (For more on this topic see the Special Senate Subcommittee on Aging, Mark Miller of Reuters, Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times, Hiltzik again, and ourselves.)

And yet, these needless and harmful cuts are being accepted as a fait accompli by both the NAPA panel and the Social Security Administration itself. The SSA's "Agency Strategic Plan for 2014-2018," which is published where the "strategic vision" document might logically be found, glosses over current and impending staffing reductions with language like this: "In the coming years, as we prepare for more employee retirements and continued budget constraints, we will develop and implement a strong succession plan to prepare for the new skills, competencies and work styles of a leaner, modern Federal workforce."

English translation: We are downsizing for budget reasons but would rather not say too much about it.

Then there's this: "The size of our workforce has declined by about 11,000 employees since the beginning of FY 2011 and we expect this trend to continue ... we estimate that more than 21,000 of our employees will retire by FY 2022. A shrinking workforce affects our ability to meet the needs and expectations of our customers and stakeholders."

English translation: Our staffing budget keeps getting slashed and our service will continue to decline accordingly.

The fact that neither the SSA, the administration, nor the president himself are publicly fighting these brutal cuts is a betrayal of Social Security's promise. That betrayal is made even more acute by the fact that cuts to Social Security's administrative budgets do not help the deficit in any way, since the SSA is fully funded from Social Security's revenues.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/the-dumbest-bipartisa

Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

How to Fix the Fed: Dismiss Dimon, Boot the Bankers, and Can the Corporations

The Top 12 Political Fallacies of 2012

Pawn: The Real George Zimmerman Story

What America Would Look Like If Libertarians Got Their Way

"F" The Bureaucracy! The White House Can Help Homeowners Right Now

The Price of Evil at JPMorgan Chase

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
5 people are discussing this page, with 15 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

Richard, Thank you for taking the time to review a... by Daniel Geery on Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 at 12:21:25 PM
We simply must FIGHT TO SAVE OUR SOCIAL SECURITY F... by Pal Palsimon on Thursday, Jun 26, 2014 at 4:42:14 AM
Pal, You are absolutely not alone. Christine and I... by Daniel Geery on Thursday, Jun 26, 2014 at 2:28:20 PM
"The fact that neither the SSA, the administration... by Rodger Malcolm Mitchell on Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 at 5:25:19 PM
Richard, Can you respond to Rodger here? I believe... by Daniel Geery on Thursday, Jun 26, 2014 at 2:33:15 PM
meanwhile as Obama does nothing to stop this, he i... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 at 8:54:41 PM
Every time the damned Democratic party, DCCC, DNC,... by reformedrepub on Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 10:28:20 PM
This is one of the most horrible pieces of news I ... by Pal Palsimon on Thursday, Jun 26, 2014 at 4:30:10 AM
I think we, as Americans, *are* saying NO. It's ju... by reformedrepub on Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 10:21:24 PM
This article must go viral. Please retweet to you... by Pal Palsimon on Thursday, Jun 26, 2014 at 5:13:19 AM
And investor profit-grubbers snatching up our m... by Pal Palsimon on Thursday, Jun 26, 2014 at 4:29:50 PM
Links to must read news you won't find in major me... by Pal Palsimon on Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 6:38:44 PM
Everywhere we turn, the prospect of our future loo... by reformedrepub on Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 10:20:14 PM
We hear you reformed repub! We hear you. Many o... by Pal Palsimon on Tuesday, Jul 1, 2014 at 1:17:17 AM
My efforts to get this article to go viral and get... by Pal Palsimon on Tuesday, Jul 1, 2014 at 1:06:31 AM