SSA ORGANIZATIONAL MANUAL

Chapter S9

THE OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL


  1. Mission

    The Office of the General Counsel advises the Commissioner on legal matters, is responsible for providing all legal advice to the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, and all subordinate organizational components (except OIG) of SSA in connection with the operation and administration of SSA. Responsible for the policy formulation and decision making related to the collection, access, and disclosure of such information in the records of the Social Security Administration; and processing of Freedom of Information requests and appeals (under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts.
  2. Organization
    1. The General Counsel (S9).
    2. The Deputy General Counsel (S9).
    3. The Immediate Office of the General Counsel (S9A)
      1. The Executive Operations Staff ( S9A-3).
      2. The IT Resource Management Staff (S9A-4).
    4. The Office of General Law (S9B).
    5. The Office of Program Law (S9E).
    6. The Office of Privacy and Disclosure (S9H).
    7. The Offices of the Regional Chief Counsels (S9G-F1-S9G- FX).
  3. Functions
    1. The General Counsel (S9) is directly responsible to the Commissioner for carrying out the OGC mission and providing general supervision to the major components of OGC.
    2. The Deputy General Counsel (S9) assists the General Counsel in carrying out his/her responsibilities and performs other duties as the General Counsel may prescribe. In the event of the General Counsel's absence or disability, or in the event of a vacancy in the position of General Counsel, the Deputy General Counsel acts for him/her unless the Commissioner directs otherwise. The Deputy General Counsel also serves as the Designated Agency Ethics Official with responsibility for coordinating and managing the Social Security Administration's (SSA) ethics program.
    3. The Immediate Office of the General Counsel (S9A) includes the Executive Operations Staff (S9A-3).
      1. The Executive Operations Staff (S9A-3) provides internal organizational planning, management analysis and review, staff support and assistance to the General Counsel, Deputy General Counsel, OGC Executive Staff, OGC Executive Officer, and other OGC managers. Plans, develops, and coordinates OGC's financial, personnel, and administrative management regional offices. Plans, directs and provides day-to-day operational support services on all areas of administrative, budget, space and facilities, communications, and systems management. Identifies, coordinates, and implements OGC's training program. Formulates, justifies, and presents annual and multi- year budget submissions. Controls the collection, recording, and reporting of all financial, personnel, and administrative data in connection with budget and staffing formulation and executive functions.
      2. The IT Resource Management Staff (S9A-4) designs, develops, manages, supports, plans, maintains, and executes all aspects of systems planning and operations for the OGC. This includes the full range of hardware, software, and IT service initiatives and issues impacting OGC operations nationwide. Conducting research and analysis of Title II and title XVI disability issues, focusing on the susceptibility of SSA policies and processes to disability fraud
    4. The Office of General Law (S9B) provides all legal services to the Commissioner and every Headquarters component of the Agency on all non-program legal issues affecting the Agency’s operations and employees.
    5. The Office of Program Law (OPL) (S9E) is responsible for providing a full range of legal services and advice (including administrative and court litigation) to the Social Security Administration (SSA) related to the operation and administration of its various programs under the Social Security Act. OPL is responsible for drafting and/or reviewing SSA regulations, Federal Register materials, and legal instruments within OPL’s areas of jurisdiction; proposals for legislation and specifications for such proposed legislation; reports and letters to congressional committees, the Office of Management and Budget, and others on proposed legislation and legislative matters and proposed testimony of SSA officials before Congress. OPL also coordinates program litigation strategy nationwide and is responsible for comprehensive analyses of litigation trends. OPL represents SSA, in concert with the Department of Justice, in litigation challenging its policies and procedures, the constitutionality of provisions of the Social Security Act, and benefit claim determinations.
    6. The Office of Privacy and Disclosure (S9H). The Office of Public Disclosure (OPD) (S9H) develops and interprets SSA policy governing the collection, use, maintenance and disclosure of personally identifiable information under the Privacy Act, section 1106 of the Social Security Act, section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code and related privacy statutes and regulations. OPD also develops national guidelines and assists in policies related to requests for information made under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It develops national standards relating to the release and exchange of personal data in SSA databases to Federal, state, and local agencies, and serves as the Agency’s focal point for all programmatic data sharing activities with outside organizations. It ensures Agency-wide sensitivity to the importance of privacy considerations in all situations involving disclosure of SSA data about individuals and ensures necessary privacy protections are built into new systems and processes developed to deliver more efficient service to Agency customers. In this capacity, it serves as the Agency’s focal point for conducting and preparing Privacy Impact Assessments under the E-Government Act of 2002. It reviews Agency projects and initiatives to ensure compliance with the Privacy Act and related laws and regulations. It examines public service issues related to handling various information requests from the public. It acts on Privacy Act and FOIA appeals. It directs FOIA activities in SSA, develops SSA’s FOIA policies and procedures, prepares the Annual Report to Congress on these activities, and reviews requests and determines whether records are required to be disclosed to members of the public.
    7. The Offices of Regional Chief Counsels (S9G-F1 - S9G-FX) provide the Commissioner and the various regional components of SSA with legal services and support as follows:
      1. Provide professional legal and managerial expertise for the OGC in their respective geographic locations.
      2. Provide litigation support and legal services and advice to the SSA Regional Commissioners in the various areas set out above regarding OGC offices.

 

SSA ORGANIZATION MANUAL

Subchapter S9B

OFFICE OF GENERAL LAW

  1. Mission

    As a component of the Office of the General Counsel, the Office of General Law (OGL) provides all legal services to the Commissioner and every Headquarters component of the Agency on all non-program legal issues affecting the Agency’s operations and employees.
  2. Organization
    1. The Associate General Counsel for General Law (S9B)
    2. The Deputy Associate General Counsel for General Law (S9B)
    3. The Immediate Office of the Associate General Counsel for General Law (S9B)
    4. The Fiscal Law Division (S9BA)
    5. The Disclosure Law Division (S9BB)
    6. The Labor Law and Ethics Division (S9BC)
    7. The Personnel Law Division (S9BE)
  3. Functions
    1. The Associate General Counsel for General Law (S9B) leads OGL in executing its mission, acts as the Agency’s Alternative Designated Agency Ethics Official, Claims Officer and Touhy Officer, and performs other duties as the General Counsel or Deputy General Counsel may prescribe.
    2. The Deputy Associate General Counsel for General Law (S9B) assists the Associate General Counsel in carrying out his/her responsibilities and performs other duties as the Associate General Counsel may prescribe.
    3. The Immediate Office of the Associate General Counsel for General Law (S9B) provides the Associate General Counsel and Deputy Associate General Counsel with staff and technical assistance on the full range of his/her responsibilities. This Office includes a Senior Litigation Counsel.
    4. The Fiscal Law Division (S9BA) is responsible for providing all non-program legal issues affecting the Agency’s operations and employees with an emphasis on contract formation, administration and litigation as well as appropriations and property management matters.
    5. The Disclosure Law Division (S9BB) is responsible for providing all non-program legal issues affecting the Agency’s operations and employees with an emphasis on the provision of legal services incident to the Agency’s duties and responsibilities under the Privacy Act, the Freedom of Information Act and related statutes.
    6. The Labor Law and Ethics Division (S9BC) is responsible for providing all non-program legal issues affecting the Agency’s operations and employees with an emphasis on advising Agency components on labor law matters and providing appropriate related representation. In addition, it advises the Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO) and the Alternate DAEO on all ethics issues with an emphasis on the education and enforcement of the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, the Hatch Act and related ethics regulations.
    7. The Personnel Law Division (S9BE) is responsible for providing all non-program legal issues affecting the Agency's operations and employees with an emphasis on personnel and employment legal issues and on the defense of the Agency in personnel and employment law class actions.

 

SSA ORGANIZATION MANUAL

Subchapter S9E

OFFICE OF PROGRAM LAW

  1. Mission

    The Office of Program Law (OPL) is responsible for providing a full range of legal services and advice (including administrative and court litigation) to the Social Security Administration (SSA) related to the operation and administration of its various programs under the Social Security Act.

    OPL is responsible for drafting and/or reviewing SSA regulations, Federal Register materials, and legal instruments within OPL’s areas of jurisdiction; proposals for legislation and specifications for such proposed legislation; reports and letters to congressional committees, the Office of Management and Budget, and others on proposed legislation and legislative matters; and proposed testimony of SSA officials before Congress.

    OPL also coordinates program litigation strategy nationwide and is responsible for comprehensive analyses of litigation trends. OPL represents SSA, in concert with the Department of Justice, in litigation challenging its policies and procedures, the constitutionality of provisions of the Social Security Act, and benefit claim determinations.
  2. Organization A.The Associate General Counsel for Program Law (S9E) B.The Deputy Associate General Counsel for Program Law (S9E) C.The Immediate Office of the Associate General Counsel for Program Law (S9E). 1. The Management Information and Process Analysis Staff (S9E-1) D.The Disability Program Division (S9EA) E.The Title II Program Division (S9EB) F.The Title VIII and XVI Programs Division (S9EC)
  3. Functions
    1. The Associate General Counsel for Program Law (S9E) is directly responsible to the General Counsel for carrying out OPL’s mission and provides general supervision to the components of OPL.
    2. The Deputy Associate General Counsel for Program Law (S9E) assists the Associate General Counsel in carrying out his/her responsibilities and performs other duties as the Associate General Counsel may prescribe.
    3. The Immediate Office of the Associate General Counsel (S9E) provides the Associate General Counsel with staff assistance on the full range of his/her responsibilities.
      1. The Management Information and Process Analysis Staff (S9E-1) is responsible for developing and analyzing a variety of management information related to litigation trends and outcomes. As part of this function, the Staff provides analysis and recommendations regarding litigation strategies and challenges to SSA’s policies and procedures.
    4. The Disability Program Division (S9EA) is responsible for providing legal advice to SSA’s components on disability issues in order to ensure the integration of Agency policies and coordinating disability program litigation strategy. This Division also represents SSA, in concert with the Department of Justice, in litigation challenges to the disability program.
    5. The Title II Program Division (S9EB) is responsible for providing legal advice to SSA’s components on non-disability issues arising under the Title II insurance program in order to ensure the integration of Agency policies and coordinating litigation strategies relative to non-disability issues. This Division also represents SSA, in concert with the Department of Justice, in litigation challenges to the Retirement and Survivors Insurance program, non-disability entitlement, coverage and administrative policies and procedures.
    6. The Title VIII and XVI Programs Division (S9EC) is responsible for providing legal advice to SSA’s components on non-disability issues arising under Titles VIII and XVI in order to ensure the integration of Agency policies and coordinating litigation strategies relative to the Special Benefits for certain World War II Veterans and Supplemental Security Income issues. This Division also represents SSA, in concert with the Department of Justice, in litigation challenges to Title VIII and Title XVI policies and procedures.

 

SSA ORGANIZATION MANUAL

Subchapter S9H

OFFICE OF PRIVACY AND DISCLOSURE

  1. Mission The Office of Privacy and Disclosure (OPD) (S9H) develops and interprets SSA policy governing the collection, use, maintenance and disclosure of personally identifiable information under the Privacy Act, section 1106 of the Social Security Act, section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code and related privacy statutes and regulations. OPD also develops national guidelines and assists in policies related to requests for information made under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It develops national standards relating to the release and exchange of personal data in SSA databases to Federal, state, and local agencies, and serves as the Agency’s focal point for all data sharing activities with outside organizations. It ensures Agency-wide sensitivity to the importance of privacy considerations in all situations involving disclosure of SSA data about individuals and ensures necessary privacy protections are built into new systems and processes developed to deliver more efficient service to Agency customers. In this capacity, it serves as the Agency’s focal point for conducting and preparing Privacy Impact Assessments under the E-Government Act of 2002. It reviews Agency projects and initiatives to ensure compliance with the Privacy Act and related laws and regulations. It examines public service issues related to handling various information requests from the public. It acts on Privacy Act and FOIA appeals. It directs FOIA activities in SSA, develops SSA’s FOIA policies and procedures, prepares the Annual Report to Congress on these activities, and reviews requests and determines whether records are required to be disclosed to members of the public.
  2. Organization
    1. The Executive Director for Privacy and Disclosure (S9H)
    2. The Deputy Executive Director for Privacy and Disclosure (S9H)
    3. The Immediate Office of the Executive Director for Privacy and Disclosure (S9H)
      1. The eFOIA Project Staff (S9H-1)
    4. The Disclosure and Data Support Division (S9HA)
    5. The Privacy Implementation Division (S9HB)
    6. The FOIA and Transparancy Division (S9HC)
    7. The Electronic Interchange and LIaison Division (S9HE)
  3. Functions
    1. The Executive Director for Privacy and Disclosure (S9H) is directly responsible to the General Counsel for carrying out the OPD mission and providing general supervision to the components of OPD.
    2. The Deputy Executive Director for Privacy and Disclosure (S9H) assists in carrying out the other duties as the Executive Director may prescribe. The Deputy Executive Director for Public Disclosure also serves as SSA’s Freedom of Information Officer and Privacy Officer.
    3. The Immediate Office of the Executive Director for Privacy and Disclosure (S9H) provides the Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director with administrative staff assistance, technology leadership, planning, and customer relations support on the full range of their responsibilities.
      1. The eFOIA Project Staff (S9H-1)
        1. Develops strategies to re-engineer, improve and make more efficient SSA’s FOIA systems and work processes performed and housed in different SSA locations.
        2. Works closely with contractors and Agency staff in maintaining, supporting, and enhancing the eFOIA system.
        3. Assists in training and support services to all users and administrators of the eFOIA system for the use, analysis, design, expansion, and installation of all system components.
    4. The Disclosure Data Support Division (S9HA)
      1. Provides guidance and services to SSA Regional and Headquarters components to resolve questions of whether Agency employees may disclose personal information from Agency records.
      2. Provides guidance on questions arising under other disclosure statutes.
      3. Provides guidance to outside, Regional, and Headquarters inquiries relating to Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act (CMPPA) and other matchingand data exchange activities.
      4. Responds to requests for personal information pursuant to a subpoena, court order, or law enforcement request.
      5. Develops, manages, and tracks policy and emerging trends related to alldisclosure and data exchange issues throughout Headquarters and the Regions.
      6. Provides support on FOIA requests and appeals, Privacy Act appeals, computer matching, and other information exchange agreements.
    5. The Privacy Implementation Division (S9HB).
      1. Identifies and ensures that all programs and systems comply with privacy requirements contained in the FISMA certification and accreditation process and the OMB 300 budget submission.
      2. Develops privacy implementation documentation for Agency systems and programs, i.e., privacy threshold analyses, privacy impact assessments, and systems of records notices.
      3. Reviews Agency technology business process descriptions, project scope agreements and software development and procurement plans for privacy issues.
      4. Prepares notices, manages privacy incidents, handles any international matters in support of totalization and related matters.
      5. Develops, manages, and tracks policy and emerging trends related to all privacyissues throughout Headquarters and the Regions.
      6. Provides support on FOIA requests and appeals, Privacy Act appeals, computer matching and other information exchange agreements.
    6. The FOIA and Transparency Division (S9HC)
      1. Develops national guidelines related to FOIA and coordinates, directs, and provides guidance on FOIA policies and procedures throughout OPD, other Headquarters components, and the Regions.
      2. Responds to simple and complex FOIA requests and appeals, coordinates office-wide FOIA processes, and handles collection of responsive materials.
      3. Carries out FOIA-related Open Government initiatives.
      4. Coordinates and directs any internal or external FOIA reports.
      5. Plans, directs, and manages use of the eFOIA processing system.
      6. Serves as OPD’s coordinator for all FOIA-related litigation, coordinates and supports office work on FOIA requests and appeals, and Privacy Act appeals.
      7. Develops, manages, and tracks policy and emerging trends related to FOIA throughout Headquarters and the Regions.
      8. Provides support on Privacy Act appeals and computer matching, and other information exchange agreements.
    7. The Electronic Interchange and Liaison DivisionS9HE)
      1. Negotiates and manages matching agreements that are subject to the CMPPA and similar information exchange agreements.
      2. Provides leadership to the Agency’s Data Integrity Board (DIB) on CMPPA processes that include advising the DIB and supports AC-level committees on nationwide operating policies related to data exchange.
      3. Develops, manages and tracks policy and emerging trends related to all data exchanges, including the CMPPA throughout Headquarters and the Regions.
      4. Oversees the design and development of the EDES Tracking System.
      5. Provides support on FOIA requests and appeals, and Privacy Act appeals.