Oral Histories

Pat Caligiuri 1

"Pat" Caligiuri during his oral history interview, 04/08/10.SSA History Archives.













1/79 - 10/80

8/75 - 1/79

3/71 - 8/75

7/70 - 3/71

3/68 - 8/70

1/66 - 3/68

10/62 - 8/63

10/50 - 10/62




Associate Commissioner, Central Operations

Director, Bureau of Retirement and Survivors Insurance

Regional Representative, New York Region

Executive Development Program

Director of Management, New York Program Service Center

Assistant Regional Representative, District Office Operations, New York Region

District Manager, New York (Flushing) Office

Various positions in New York District and Regional Offices

Hunter College, New York City, AB Economics, 1950

Commissioner's Citation, 1966
Commissioner's Citation, 1973
DHEW Executive Management Award, 1976

"Your performance in leading BRSI continues to display the uncommon level of commitment and innovative administrative ability which make this special recognition so richly deserved." Letter from Bob Bynum, April 9, 1976

"Many of the achievements in this Agency are directly attributable to your outstanding leadership and exceptional skills and I know you take great pride in the accomplishments." Letter from Herb Doggette, Sept. 22, 1980


(All excerpts in MP4 format)

Q6: Excerpt

Q8: Excerpt

Q10: Excerpt


Q1: How did you come to work for SSA and what was your first position?

I went to an aviation high school in New York City, Haaren High, as I was very interested in aviation and airplanes. In my senior year, in 1943, the war was on and I was dying to get into the service. I took a test and was interviewed for the Naval Aviation Program and I was accepted. In September of that year I was 17. I went into the navy as a naval aviation trainee and trained for a year, but I didn’t quite make it. I was washed out and they put me into the regular navy. I became a Quartermaster on a landing ship and we went into the Pacific. We went to Okinawa, the Philippines; we were involved in the Philippines liberation. After the war ended we were sent to China (Tientsin, China), and supplied the marines there. We also landed some Chinese nationalist troops behind communist lines in a peninsula north of Tientsin. The name of the town was Chin-Wang-Tao. After the war we turned the ship over to the Nationalist Chinese and we went home and that was the end of my military career.

After I got home I was 21 years old and wanted very badly to go to college. My father told me I couldn’t go because we couldn’t afford it. And I said, “Well, Dad, don’t worry. I get the GI Bill and I’m going to be able to go.” So I did go to Hunter College, in New York City, and finished that in early 1950.

Upon graduation I took the Federal Service Entrance Examination and later received a letter from the Federal Security Agency, and I said, “Oh, this is great, this is what I’d love to do, maybe get into the FBI or some other intriguing thing.” But it actually turned out to be the Social Security Administration. I went for the interview, was accepted, and started working there almost on my birthday, October 15, 1950. I think I was sworn in on October 16, 1950. I went in as a Claims Interviewer in the Coney Island office of Brooklyn. You know Coney Island is a big resort. It was great; we used to have Nathan hotdogs for lunch. I started there as a GS5, Claims Representative Trainee.

group 3

Regional Conference in Schroon Lake, NY, circa 1965. First row (l to r): Hugh McKenna, Victor Christgau, Joe Tighe. Second row (l to r): Vic Broome, Ed Faulhaber, Dave Kopelman. Third row (l to r): Bob Wilwerth, Tommy McGovern, Barney Doonan. Fourth row (l to r): Art Simmermeyer, Vince Gavin, Pat. Photo courtesy of Mr. Caligiuri.


Pat as ARR

Pat in July 1967 (third from left) while serving as the Assistant Regional Representative for the New York Region. Also shown, left to right, James Murphy, William Grace, Pat, Sydney Savrin, and Sidney Wekser. SSA History Archives


This was 1950 when I started and at that time they had rather significant amendments to Social Security, what they call the “six quarter” cases. All the people who had six quarters were automatically covered, and we had a deluge. I remember all the people who came in for the interviews were born in 1885, right? That would have made them 65 in 1950. They all came in for their benefits and we were interviewing all day long. There were a big pile of cases that we had to process and it was good training for us trainees to do that.

I remember we couldn’t smoke in the office. I was a smoker then so we’d always have to go out into the hall to smoke. That was the beginning of the clamp down on smoking I guess.
I was there perhaps about a year, maybe less, and then I was promoted to Field Representative and went out to Hempstead, New York.

Pat C. group

Pat Caligiuri (second from left) in May 1968 at a meeting of Payment Center Directors. Also seen, left to right, Louis DeLucas, Pat, James Forbus, Arthur Simermeyer, Roger Duba, Robert Willworth, and Leeman Forrest. SSA History Archives


Pat at desk

Pat at his desk while serving as Director of Management in the New York Payment Center, circa 1969. Photo courtesy of Mr. Caligiuri. .


Not really. I think the only real change was we used to have to request earnings records and I remember there was an improvement there in terms of getting the earnings records back more quickly and having the information that we needed. It would let us know immediately whether the person was covered and what their benefit was. I think that was an improvement over what we had done previous to that. Other than that I don’t really remember any real significant change in the process. In fact, it was that way for many years. We always had the paper processing.

Q4: In 1966 you received a Commissioner’s Citation for your work as a Management Staff Officer. What were your responsibilities?

As the Management Staff Officer I was pretty much in charge of the staff there and headed up all kinds of regional operations: coordinating conferences, arranging for speakers at somebody’s training conferences that we had, setting up networks for the Assistant Regional Representatives, the Area Directors. Generally, I was like the right-hand man to the Regional Representative.

Then I supervised all the staff officers and staff assistants. We had quite a few of them, maybe six to eight. And generally formulating with the Regional Representative Management policies for district offices, visits by the ARRs, and things of that sort.

COSS citation picture

Pat in December 1973 for his second Commissioner's Citation. SSA History Archives


group 2

Meeting of Payment Center chiefs with Bureau Director, March 1973. Seated (l to r): Julius Berman, Hugh McKenna, Ells Listerman. Standing (l to r) Ed Sabatini, Pat, Joe White, Ted Girdner, Walter Baum. Photo courtesy of Mr. Caligiuri.


award 3

Pat receiving Executive Management Award from the Secretary of HEW, April 9, 1976. Left to right: Pat, Dave Matthews (Secretary), Marjorie Lynch, Bruce Cardwell (Commissioner). Photo courtesy of Mr. Caligiuri.



Meeting of Regional Reps. in Baltimore March 1977. Left to right (seated): Marty Taffet, Herb Doggette, Pat, Ruth Pierce, Jane Presley. Left to right (standing): Ells Listerman, Ed Sabatini, Joe White, Walter Baum, Ted Girdner. Photo courtesy of Mr. Caligiuri.

getting award

Pat receiving award from Commissioner Stanford Ross, December 1979. Photo courtesy of Mr. Caligiuri


Q5: What was your management style?

I was a manager and having come up through the ranks, I was one of the people. They knew me and, as I indicated, one of my trademarks was that I used to visit the offices frequently. I wasn’t an absentee head where all they see is a picture of the guy they never know. I was there frequently. I visited all the Program Service Centers, all the Data Operation Centers.

And when I went there I didn’t just sit in the office with the manager and go out to lunch and dinner and say “hi, goodbye.” I’d go out and walk around the offices and I didn’t want anyone else with me. I didn’t want the manager with me, or anyone else on the staff. I’d go by myself and I’d just walk around and talk to people, and they loved it. I got great feedback and I got a chance to meet people. I believe I made them feel like I was one of them. The thing is, I understood what they were doing because I had done it, and I knew what they were up against. That, I enjoyed doing, and I think I accomplished a lot.

Pat Caligiuri 3


Q6: You were the first manager in SSA to institute the “flex-time” work schedule. How did that come about?

I just read about it in terms of being introduced in private industry. And I just thought, hey, why not? At that time there was an increase in women working with children and the need for day care and the need for more flexibility in terms of that. So, all of those things came into play at that time. That was the first time anyone ever instituted flex time and they were all leery about it.
And they all said, “Gee, they can come in whenever they want.”
And I said, “Sure.”

“But how about the supervisor has to go home? How’s he going to make sure the guys hang out until six when they’re supposed to go home? Nobody’s here to …”
I said, “It will all work out, don’t worry about it.”

And anyway it was a tremendous success. And I was the first one to institute that in Social Security.

Pat Caligiuri 4

Q7: You were a strong advocate of the Inter-Regional Management Program. Can you describe this program’s importance?

Yes, it was basically with the Program Service Centers and we’d get two or three of them together and create a schedule and where each of the payment centers would meet with all of the supervisory and management staff of each Program Service Center. We would all go to a location. We had one in Hartford, one in Syracuse, New York, one in Chicago, and in several other cities. We would usually get three program centers together and would all meet for about three days. We’d have an agenda and would go over different work load problems or new rules. The supervisors would sit together and see if they could come up with solutions to some of the problems we were having or new ways to do things. And then we’d get together at night. There was camaraderie. I think the program contributed to better procedures and to morale improvement.

Q8: What was the Comprehensive Review program?

That was something that I brought over from District Office Operations. They didn’t have this in the PSCs before I took over as Director. We would go into all the Program Service Centers and later ODO and the Data Operation Centers. We would go in and review operations. We would talk to people. We would know what problems the office was having. We’d discuss with them management, how they felt about their supervisor or manager and how things were going, and what they thought could be improved. We’d look at all operations in the facility.

I always went with the team, which was unheard of before. I would meet with the survey team every night and ask, “What have you found? How are we doing on this?”

We would compose a final report, with action items that they would have to do. We would then have a final wrap up meeting with the Regional Rep and his top staff and we’d say, “Here’s what we found, and this is what we feel you need to do.” And we’d present the action items and give them a deadline for completion. It was something they never had before.

Q9: Can you explain how you negotiated with the Civil Service Commission to relax educational requirements for Claims Authorizers in the PSC?

In the Payment Center we’d have claims authorizers and benefit authorizers. The benefit authorizer position did not have a college requirement. There was for claims authorizers but not for benefit authorizers. A lot of them aspired to become claims authorizers but could not, even though they did a great job. I don’t know if they came forward to me and requested this or whether I noticed it myself, maybe a combination of the two. I thought: "why shouldn’t they have an opportunity of promotion if they can qualify?" And the only reason they could not qualify is because of the college requirement. So I went to the Civil Service Commission and negotiated with them and they relaxed the requirement.

There was a lot more movement after that of people from the benefit authorizer’s position to the claims authorizer’s position. Again, there was a lot of negative reaction to that. “Oh no, you don’t want to do that.” Claims authorizers and even management weren’t too much in favor of it.  But it went into effect and it worked out very well.

Pat Caligiuri

Q10: What was your most significant accomplishment?

The biggest thing was the modulization program. We took these huge branches and broke it down by account numbers where each module had components of the claims and other branches. We brought them together like a small district office to handle a segment of the work load. When a folder arrived, it went through the entire process without somebody having to physically carry it or putting in a bin and rolling it into another division. It was a tremendous improvement in operations.

We started modularization in the Program Service Centers because we had the first experimental module in the New York Payment Center, which I agreed to do, and it was a great success. After that, when I became Director of BRSI, I instituted it in all the Program Service Centers as well as ODO, and later as Associate Commissioner in OCRO (Office of Central Records Operations). So that was, I think, my greatest contribution and greatest achievement in Social Security.

Pat Caligiuri 2