This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current policies or procedures
Posted: June 24, 2010
PDF of this report (40pp.)
We've posted our Open Government Plan 2.0 update, which reflects our continuing commitment to the principles of openness and accountability. This refreshed plan includes additional input we received from Open Government stakeholders, the public and our employees; summarizes the progress we have made in implementing Open Government principles at our agency; and outlines additional commitments we expect to meet in the future.
I am pleased to present the Social Security Administration's first Open
Government Plan, which is our framework for incorporating the principles
of transparency, participation, and collaboration into our plans for
achieving our mission.
On his first day in office, President Barack Obama issued a
increased openness in government. The White House issued the
Open Government Directive,
calling upon each Federal agency to formulate
a plan for how it intended to increase and accelerate openness in its
programs and operations.
This plan lays out Social Security's open government goals, objectives,
and supporting activities. To obtain employee and public input in developing the plan, we solicited ideas
and comments through our new Open Government web page. We received hundreds of contacts during
the public comment process, and we will continue to use this page as well as other interactive tools to
engage the public. We also consulted with stakeholders and open government advocates to get additional
perspectives and input for the plan. These suggestions and the public comments played a key role in
developing our plan.
We are excited about the opportunities to improve service to the American people by sharing data and
information and allowing the public-either individually, or as part of academic, non-profit, or other
government entities, help shape our policies and priorities. In addition, we look forward to using
innovative data-sharing, collaboration, and participation technologies to support our mission.
While our plan spans about two years, we expect to refresh it as we gain experience and receive feedback
from the public and our employees. To follow our progress in implementing this plan, and to participate
in periodic discussions, please visit our web page at
You also may email comments to email@example.com.
In the spirit of Open Government, I encourage you to visit our web page often and share your ideas and
comments with us as we seek to improve our transparency and accountability to the public we serve.
In this plan, we map out our path to a new level of openness - one that reflects our commitment to
increase transparency, expand participation and collaboration, implement three flagship initiatives, and
make open government sustainable at Social Security.
Transparency: We are committed to sharing and being accountable for information the public wants from
us. We are conducting an inventory of our information and evaluating our processes to release information
to the public. We will release information in a format the public can use. We submitted datasets to the
Federal government document repository, (www.data.gov), and are incorporating feedback on those
datasets, as we move forward with publishing additional information. While our goal is to become even
more open and transparent, we will continue to vigilantly protect the personal information the public
entrusts to us. We will ensure that transparency does not put that information at risk.
Participation and Collaboration: We will expand on our long history of inviting the public to participate
and collaborate with us. Our Open Government Communications Plan Summary includes potential
tools and tactics for both external and internal audiences. We will continue to offer opportunities for
participation on our Open Government Website (www.socialsecurity.gov/open) and will report there on
ideas we receive and progress we make. We will also use our agency Internet site (www.socialsecurity.gov) to
share information and provide opportunities for participation and collaboration. To encourage employee
collaboration and innovation across the country, we are creating the necessary infrastructure to support
existing and emerging Web technologies. We will use social media tools in discussions about our programs
Flagship Initiatives: Our three flagship initiatives - the Spanish Language Retirement Estimator, Online
Service Enhancement, and Online Life-Expectancy Calculator - support our agency mission, goals, and
objectives, as well as showcase the value of open government principles.
Sustainability: Our Chief Information Officer directs our open government
plans and activities. Our Office of Open Government is
responsible for managing those activities. Our
Open Government executive steering
committee provides guidance
on overall strategic direction. We
will incorporate open government
principles into our new Agency
Strategic Plan in 2011. Our Open
Government Communications Plan
Summary includes activities to foster
culture change and promote open
government principles in our workforce.
Deliver Social Security services that meet the changing needs of the public
Support the agency's core mission through the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration
We run some of the nation's largest entitlement programs: the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance
(OASDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Social Security is one of the pillars
of America, providing $650 billion in Social Security benefits and SSI payments to approximately 60 million
people each year. In addition, we assist people in applying for food stamps and Medicare, including
subsidies for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program.
"Starting today, every agency and department should know that this
administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold
information, but those who seek to make it known."
--President Barack Obama, January 2009
We will continue to provide information to the public to enable them to understand our mission, our
programs, and the actions we take. While we currently share significant amounts of non-personal
information through a number of outlets and methods, there is ever-growing public demand for more
information and clarity in our processes. We share the President's commitment to making non-personal
information known, and we have taken steps to make more information available electronically.
On February 6, 2010, we launched our new Open Government Webpage, through which the public can
find datasets and information about our overall management and organizational structure. The public may
also use this web page to contact the agency and submit comments and ideas.
Through our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) program we ensure transparency through a "presumption
of openness."  You will find information on how to submit a FOIA request at www.socialsecurity.gov/foia.
We have Disclosure Review Boards governed by senior leadership, which ensure the quality, objectivity,
utility, and integrity of data we release under the Information Quality Act. We posted 17 high-value
datasets to Data.gov and plan to proactively identify and release additional information. We expect to
incorporate the disclosure review process into our agency planning.
We have named a senior official responsible for the publicly-available Federal spending information. For more
information about our transparency initiatives (Data.gov, eRulemaking, Information Technology (IT) Dashboard,
Recovery.gov, and USAspending.gov) see Appendix A. We do not have original classification authority and
cannot classify any document or system of record. Therefore, we do not have a declassification program.
We reviewed the high-value information and datasets currently available to the public. Based on our
review and the feedback we receive through our Open Government Webpage and Data.gov, we will
identify additional information to release.
Our Open Government Executive Steering Committee oversees this ongoing review.
Our Data.gov point of contact manages the review on a day-to-day basis along with
a working group made up of experts in enterprise architecture, data quality, privacy,
and security along with agency data stewards. The working group members analyze
the agency's architecture, data sources, and operational data stores for high value
information and use data extraction tools to deliver the datasets.
The agency's Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics is modernizing the production of the agency's
statistical publications. In addition to using a new, efficient, and automated business process to produce
statistical tables, the modernization initiative will also allow us to move low level aggregate data used
to produce the statistical tables available for public use. These new types of datasets will allow users to
generate their own custom statistical information, supporting the transparency objectives of the Open
Government Directive. Providing opportunities for data "mash-ups," applications, visualizations, and public
analysis promote openness and clearly articulate Social Security's commitment to the open government
vision of enhancing accessibility and creativity in public use of high value data.
We will release at least five new high value datasets or information holdings by December 2010. We also
have additional releases planned for 2011. See Appendix A for lists of recent data releases and additional
We are also:
Appendix B, Table 1 contains a set of milestones and expected completion dates for major activities
supporting this objective.
We continue to identify and release high value data that was not previously available to the public. The
data releases will conform to the standards of Data.gov and the Information Quality Act. In addition, we will:
Social Security - Committed to Excellence in Accessibility
We are committed to making our entire Internet and Intranet content
accessible to all persons with disabilities. As a leader in the Federal
Government in the area of accessibility, we have made great progress with
our public-facing websites and our IT procurement, ensuring that the public
has access to our services and that out employees with disabilities have the tools and
information they need to do their jobs.
But we can't stop there. With the development of new web-based technologies, we face
additional challenges and opportunities in ensuring accessibility. We remain committed
to ensuring that our online documents, multimedia, social media, and videos comply
with Section 508.
For additional details about our accessibility policy and resources for people with
disabilities, please view www.socialsecurity.gov/webcontent/accessibility.htm.
We support and comply with the requirements of Data.gov, eRulemaking, IT Dashboard, Recovery.gov,
and USAspending.gov. See Appendix A for information about each of these activities. We work with other
agencies to jointly release data when appropriate. For instance, we participate in Data.gov working groups
covering such topics as health and jobs.
We created an Open Government Communications Plan that incorporates significant actions supporting
transparency and our Open Government web page. You will find a summary of our communications plan
in Appendix C.
We reach out to many different stakeholder groups to get their ideas, understand their needs, and offer
opportunities to participate and collaborate with us as we make plans for the future of Social Security's
We plan to participate in meetings internally and externally to explain the open government initiative with
respect to data and Social Security's participation in Data.gov to foster the use of the data. We will meet
and consult with research firms and peers (e.g., military, private, not-for-profit) who specialize in business
intelligence and information management to benchmark and learn of best practices for data inventories
and quality assurance. We will also reach out to members of academia to understand research needs.
We have begun a series of face-to-face meetings with advocacy organizations, during which we solicit
feedback about the data and information they want us to make available. During these meetings, we
ask about their specific data needs. We will continue to participate in national meetings such as library
associations and national disability advocate conferences. We will continue the feedback cycle in
subsequent meetings by publishing additional information, and evaluating satisfaction levels and use. We
will also monitor outcomes related to new applications, new uses, and richer understanding of the data.
In our efforts to be more transparent, we will go beyond releasing statistics and provide
the public with additional information of interest. Documents we post will be valid, current, and accurate.
We are committed to achieving an unprecedented level of openness in government. We believe our FOIA
program strongly reflects this commitment.
Our Office of Privacy and Disclosure (OPD), a major component of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC),
has responsibility for all FOIA matters within the agency. Our centralized approach fosters uniformity in
training, which enhances our ability to consistently apply a presumption of openness to our FOIA decisions
and administrative appeal process.
Additionally, we continue to use technology to enhance
our FOIA capabilities. In 2007, we implemented a new
browser-based platform (eFOIA) designed specifically
to automate much of the workflow for handling Privacy
Act and FOIA requests. The system automatically
provides people with a letter acknowledging our
receipt of their request, while also providing a case
tracking number and a telephone number they may call
for status inquiries.
The eFOIA system has greatly improved our ability to
respond to FOIA requests in a timely manner. In 2009,
Social Security responded to over 31,000 FOIA requests,
and ended the fiscal year with a backlog of less than three-tenths of one percent of our total cases
You may find more detailed information about our FOIA program, including staffing, organizational
structure, and process as well as planned improvements to strengthen our response process at
www.socialsecurity.gov/foia/New_Open_Gov_page.htm, as well as at Appendix D of this plan.
Social Security's Center for Records Management (CRM), located in the Office of
Publications and Logistics Management (OPLM), maintains and oversees agency
policies, responsibilities, and procedures for the orderly disposition of records within the
agency. These policies include governance of Vital Records and E-mail Retention. For
comprehensive information about the agency records management program, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/open/our-records-management-program.html. This site contains information about
the agency records management program, including scheduling all electronic records for retention and
destruction and ensuring timely transfer to the National Archives.
Social Security receives congressional inquiries
by phone, letter, fax, and via the Internet. The
inquiries generally involve constituent-related
Social Security cases, program policies, or requests
for program or agency information. These
inquiries most often come into the Office of the
Commissioner, local Social Security field offices,
the Office of Public Inquiries (OPI), and the Office
of Legislation and Congressional Affairs (OLCA).
We respond as quickly as possible to congressional
offices, but sometimes it takes time to get the
information we need. If we cannot provide a
final reply promptly, we will provide an interim
In most cases, the office that receives the initial
inquiry can fully address the questions raised and provide a response to the congressional office. Others
may need to be referred to a different office. When an inquiry is received at headquarters, OPI or OLCA
coordinate with all relevant and affected components. No matter which office handles it, we thoroughly
research and answer all congressional inquiries.
Our website's home page includes a section titled "Information for Congress." Following the link,
www.socialsecurity.gov/legislation, will take visitors to the site for our Office of Legislation and Congressional
Affairs. This site includes information on agency testimony before Congress, pending Social Securityrelated
legislation, legislative proposals and reports we have sent to Congress, and legislative history of
significant recent legislation affecting Social Security Act programs.
"We seek a free flow of information...we are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and
--John F. Kennedy, February 1962
We have a long history of inviting the public to participate and collaborate with us and have greatly benefited
from their ideas and opinions. For example, when we consider additions to the diseases included in our
compassionate allowance initiative , we hold public hearings to gather information from medical experts,
advocates, and individuals interested in the disability process. We use the valuable information and opinions
we receive in the forums and other outreach venues to inform our policy decisions. Similarly, when we
update our medical listings used in adjudicating disability claims, we publish an Advance Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking to get ideas from the public before we begin to draft the proposed regulatory changes. Based
on an employee suggestion, we participate in a project with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to
determine whether some of their medical research can streamline disability case decisions.
We want to expand on the successes we have achieved so far through participation and collaboration
and further infuse these principles into the way we develop policy, solve problems, and determine public
preferences. Using social media is a new venture for our agency. We are developing policies and instituting
practices to use this as well as other technology to support participation and collaboration. As we gain
experience and get feedback from stakeholders, we will continue to refine these policies, expand practices,
and integrate the tools into our mainstream processes.
During our open government dialogue, we received many ideas about information we should add to
socialsecurity.gov. Much of the requested information was already there but difficult to find, so we have
highlighted the links to this information on our open government page (go to www.socialsecurity.gov/open/requested-info.html). Also based on open government dialogue, we posted a top ideas list
www.socialsecurity.gov/open/top-ideas.html, reflecting public votes and comments on ideas submitted.
The list displays the status of our progress on investigating each idea. We plan to update future progress on
these ideas as well as others we receive.
We will offer the public additional access by:
We currently provide the public with an opportunity to comment on our public use forms and information
collection requests, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act through email at OPLM.RCO@ssa.gov. (A full
list of our data collection projects is available at www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain.)
A set of milestones and expected completion dates for major activities supporting this objective is located
in Appendix B, Table 2.
Compassionate Allowances - Collaboration in Developing Disability Policy
Since 2007, the agency has collaborated with the public to determine which medical
conditions to include in the Compassionate Allowance process. Compassionate
Allowances are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that
are so serious that they obviously meet our disability standards.
We developed the initial list of Compassionate Allowance conditions as a result of
information we received at public outreach hearings, public comments on an Advance
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, comments received from the Social Security and
Disability Determination Service communities, and the advice of medical and scientific
In March 2010, we announced an expanded list consisting of 38 more conditions.
These additions resulted from holding additional public outreach hearings, working
closely with the National Institutes of Health, the Alzheimer's Association, the National
Organization for Rare Disorders, and other groups. We also reviewed information
gathered from previous hearings and consulted with our internal expert medical staff.
In addition to expanding our collaboration efforts with the public, we are also committed
to increasing employee participation and will build a modern infrastructure necessary
to support such efforts. We will begin using these tools internally, and as we gain
experience, we will expand for public use as appropriate.
See Appendix B, Table 2 for a set of milestones and expected completion dates for major activities
supporting this objective.
We are using social media tools for idea sharing and blogs to engage audiences in
discussions about our strategic planning, programs, and services. We are updating our
Agency Strategic Plan in FY 2011 and will use these tools to capture public input and
feedback during development.
We are investigating the use of innovative tools and practices to create new and easier methods for the
public to provide input into the agency decision-making processes. We are exploring the following:
One of the ideas we received during our Open Government Plan public comment period
was to provide greater access to retirement information. This idea is consistent with our
Agency Strategic Plan commitment to provide online tools to plan for retirement. One of the hallmarks
of our online retirement planning tools is our online Retirement Estimator, which provides users with
instant, personalized estimates of their future Social Security retirement benefits. This popular application,
which was used almost three million times in FY 2009, consistently ranks as one of the top four online
Government applications in public satisfaction surveys.
As part of our commitment to provide services that meet the needs of our nation's diverse population,
we plan to offer this online service in Spanish. Developing our online Spanish Retirement Estimator (SRE)
is not only one of our flagship initiatives, but it is a major component of our agency's Limited English
Proficiency Plan. 
This new tool will provide retirement information in Spanish and will be our first online
service in a non-English language. This intitiative acknowledges the substantial growth of the Hispanic
population, which the U.S. Census Bureau projects will increase from 46.7 million in 2008 to 132.8 million
We have engaged both the public and our employees in developing the S-RE. Specifically, we have
held public focus groups at various locations around the country and have met with national Hispanic
community groups to solicit feedback and suggestions. Internally, employees across the agency have
assisted in technical development, policy decisions, and translation efforts.
We will measure the impact and benefits of the S-RE using data about the application's usage, satisfaction
levels, and other feedback we receive from members of the public who use it.
Our tentative plan for the project is (Government Fiscal Year 'FY' runs from October 1st - September 30):
We will determine the specific launch date for the application after testing and integration.
We offer our services through a variety of channels. Many of our services are available online at
or through our automated telephone systems. People can access other services
through our toll-free phone number (800-772-1213). Some services still require a visit to a Social Security
office. People who need to visit an office and those who prefer an in-person interview have the option of
scheduling an appointment at a time which is convenient for them or, they can walk into a Social Security
Office without first scheduling an appointment.
To help the public understand our available service options, we will build a new online
tool that directs the public to the most appropriate service delivery method for their
needs. Through guided search tools, visitors to our website will more readily arrive at
the correct service channel, encouraging even more people to use our online services.
Additionally, individuals who are unable to complete a Social Security benefit claim
application online will be able to electronically schedule an appointment at a Social
Security field office.
As we build this service enhancement, we will collaborate with industry experts and will conduct usability
testing with the public. Members of the public, as well as agency employees, will provide important insight
participating in our online dialogue and submitting other comments and suggestions.
We will use surveys and web analytics to evaluate the impact of this initiative and ensure that users can
easily find the services they seek. We will also monitor the number of appointments that are scheduled
online and determine the savings associated with this new method of self-scheduling. Since this initiative
is part of our growing suite of online services, we will continually improve and expand it to meet the
changing needs and preferences of the public.
Our tentative plan for the project is:
We will determine the specific launch date for the application after we have fully tested it.
We are developing a simple, online, life-expectancy calculator to assist the public with retirement planning.
A key factor in considering one's retirement options is how long one can reasonably expect to live, yet many
people substantially underestimate their life expectancy. Adding a life-expectancy calculator to our suite of
retirement planning tools offers additional information to consider. Specifically, the tool will draw on actuarial
assumptions from the annual Social Security Trustees' report and will provide the end user with average life
expectancies at different ages. It will also be designed for use with our online Retirement Estimator, which
provides users with instant, personalized estimates of their future retirement benefits. We expect to launch
the life-expectancy calculator during 2010.
To measure the effect of this new service, we will survey users and collect statistics on application usage.
We will also collect feedback from the various participation forums we host, as well as from the comments
provided through our online collaboration tools. We will post the feedback on our open government web
At Social Security, we are committed to becoming an even more open and transparent
organization. However, we must balance our need to protect the sensitive and
personal information we need to administer our critical programs with our desire to be
transparent and provide services that meet the needs of the public. The principles of
transparency, participation, and collaboration require us to approach our jobs in new ways and learn to
think about service in new terms.
Goal IV provides governance structures to oversee these new approaches and plans for changing the
culture of the agency so that open government values and principles are woven into the fabric of our
workforce. These principles support our longstanding values of providing good service and safeguarding
the personal information we maintain.
We will implement open government changes and infuse these new principles and values into our
business processes. Our efforts will be comprehensive and continuous. For example:
See Appendix B, Table 3 for a set of milestones and expected completion dates for major activities supporting this objective.
The Commissioner and top executives provide overall guidance through their senior
operations meetings. Open government will be a key topic in these meetings. To
understand the executive leadership functions of Social Security, see the agency
organization in Appendix E, Chart 1.
Highlights of actions related to organizational support for open government include:
Appendix E, Chart 3 contains a listing of components, executives, and functions relevant to open
government. A set of milestones and expected completion dates for major activities supporting this
objective is located in Appendix B, Table 3.
We are updating our Agency Strategic Plan (ASP) in 2011. In developing our new plan, we will incorporate
our open government plans and activities. Highlights of actions to foster alignment between the ASP and
the open government initiative include:
We will provide information about open government measures and results. For example:
You will find a set of milestones and expected completion dates for major activities supporting this
objective in Appendix B, Table 3.
We are a Federal leader in the use of Health Information Technology (HIT). Our work with the private
sector may yield transferable ideas and tools. We will share our results and products from HIT and other
innovative endeavors as appropriate. For example:
We will continue to actively participate in cross-government workgroups and share best practices. We also
A set of milestones and expected completion dates for major activities supporting this objective is located
in Appendix B, Table 3.
As we move ahead with our plan to become an even more open agency, we look forward to:
We encourage you to track our progress in implementing our plan by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/open/plan-progress.html.
We support the President's agenda for the democratization of data. We added two datasets to Data.gov in
2009 and in January 2010, another 14 high value datasets in accordance with Memorandum M-10-06. The
chart below shows the datasets and how they met the high value criteria of Data.gov.
High-value information is information that can be used to increase agency accountability and
responsiveness; improve public knowledge of the agency and its operations; further the core mission of
the agency; create economic opportunity; or respond to need and demand as identified through public
consultation. (OMB Memorandum M-10-06, December 8, 2009)
(To be posted in 2010 and 2011)
New Disability State Agency Processing
-Disability Reconsideration Data for:
-Continuing Disability Review Data for:
-Prototype Case Workload by Participating State Agency (cases in which reconsideration was not held)
-Disability Workload Processed by Federal Entity
State Agency Budget Information
State Agency Processing Times
Number and Percentage of Quick Disability Allowances
Number and Percentage of Compassionate Allowances
FOIA Report for 2009 in machine readable format
FOIA Report for 2010
Retirement Claims Filed and Cleared
Number and Percentage of Retirement Claims Filed via Internet
Number and Percentage of Disability Claims Filed via the Internet
Internet Usage for Selected Online Transactions
Quality Workload Statistics
Earnings Public Use File
Benefits and Earnings Public Use File
National Survey of Children and Families
Datasets from Statistical Modernization Initiative
Field Office Waiting Times
Social Security 800 Number Call Volume and Busy Rate
Social Security 800 Number Calls Speed to Answer
We have been active members of the Data.gov community and work with many other agencies to advance
joint releases of datasets and relevant information. This includes, but is not limited to the Security and
Privacy Working Group, the Jobs Working Group, and the Health Working Group. We believe that these
joint efforts may be fruitful to expose new insights in the need for data and provide opportunities for data
challenges on the use of data. We are mindful of all such opportunities. We are also aware of the need to
provide the data and information in a context that is understandable and displayed through visualization
tools that make sense to the public.
The agency receives ideas and comments from employees and the public about
additional datasets and information that they wish to see posted via web portals,
idea tools, email, face-to-face meetings, etc. We will use this input, along with
executive guidance, in the agency's strategic planning process to ensure that the
principle of transparency becomes part of our ongoing operating procedures. It will also
inform our ongoing release of datasets and information we have not previously released.
Social Security is a partner agency in the eRulemaking initiative known as the Federal Docket
Management System (FDMS), (publicly accessible at www.regulations.gov). We began working with the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the partner agencies in the development of FDMS in June
2004. We participated in the design of FDMS for three months. The partner agencies worked with EPA
and the contractor to design a user friendly system where the public can submit comments on pending
regulations. Social Security started using FDMS on September 25, 2006.
Staff members from our Office of Regulations actively serve on several committees in the continued
development and modifications to FDMS and the public-facing website, Regulations.gov.
Social Security is fully compliant with requirements for reporting on the IT Dashboard. Initially our
reporting cycle was not aligned with the timing required for Dashboard reporting, but beginning in FY
2010, we have been reporting on a monthly cycle at the beginning of the month, as required. We are
looking forward to planned enhancements to the Dashboard that will provide for more flexible reporting
and richer data. For more information, visit www.whitehouse.gov/open/innovations/it-dashboard.
Our responsibilities under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) included:
We developed an overall agency level plan and three program specific plans. We
submitted our ARRA Plans to the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board. The
Board includes the information in these submissions and reports on the Recovery.gov
website. In addition, we submit a Major Communications Report to the Board and OMB
on an ad hoc basis, as major communications are released to the public.
We submit a weekly Financial and Activity Report to the Board and OMB. This report shows the total
ARRA obligations and total gross outlays from ARRA passage through the end of the report week, as well
as major completed activities and major planned activities for the week of the report. These reports are
posted on the Recovery.gov website.
To further transparency, we also post the above items to our agency ARRA website and provide links to
Recovery.gov, USAspending.gov, and other sites that may be of interest to the public. On our agency
website, we also include an overview of the ARRA, our overall agency level plan, the three program specific
plans, fact sheets, and ARRA contact information. We also have information about proper communications
with lobbyists, information quality, civil rights, and how the Economic Recovery Payment may affect an
individual's Federal tax return. For more information, visit www.Recovery.gov.
We are working towards full compliance with the operational guidelines contained in Office of
Management and Budget Memorandum M-09-19, Guidance on Data Submission under the Federal
Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA). These guidelines define the requirements for
Federal agency use in reporting data to the USAspending.gov website.
FFATA requires information on Federal awards (Federal financial assistance and expenditures) be made
available to the public via a single, searchable website. Federal awards include grants, sub grants, loans,
awards, cooperative agreements, and other forms of financial assistance as well as contracts, subcontracts,
purchase orders, task orders, and delivery orders.
Pursuant to the guidance, Social Security reports contract data and Federal financial assistance payments
data. For more information, visit www.usaspending.gov.
OMB M-09-19 requires contract data be provided by the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS). It also
requires a separate data file containing program source data (i.e., Treasury Account).
We submit contract data directly through the FPDS. We extract program source data from our in-house
contract writing system and upload the data file using the USAspending Data Submission and Validation
Tool (DSVT). FPDS is being modified to accept program source data, which will eliminate the need for the
separate data file.
Federal financial assistance includes grants and assistance payments made under Federal domestic
assistance programs listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. Grant and assistance payments
data are submitted using the Federal Assistance Award Data System (FAADS) PLUS format.
We extract grants data from our Grants Reporting System, an in-house data base created
specifically for meeting the FFATA requirements. We normally submit the data on the 5th
and 20th of each month, or the last business day prior to the due date, should it fall on a
weekend or holiday. Currently, we submit our grants data via e-mail to USAspending.gov.
We will be migrating to a new grants management system, which includes FFATA reporting capabilities.
This new system will allow us to report via the DSVT, which is the required delivery process effective
October 1, 2010.
We run one of the Nation's largest entitlement programs-the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance
program. We also administer the Supplemental Security Income program, which provides financial support
to aged, blind, or disabled adults and children with limited income and resources. Under FFATA, the
payments made under these programs are considered financial assistance. Therefore, we report data about
these payments to USAspending.gov.
Social Security is working to meet the M-09-19 FFATA data submission requirements. The agency payment
information for these programs in the new FAADS Plus data formats. Our current reporting system
was designed to report quarterly, while USAspending requires monthly reporting. We are developing
the requirements and migration strategy for a new process that meets all of the requirements of USA
Projected Completion Date
Conduct an inventory of high value information and datasets
Ongoing effort began in 2009. Target date for completion is 9/2010.
Evaluate agency processes to ensure appropriate release of data
Ongoing effort began in 2009 and continues
Post at least five new high value datasets/information holdings to Data.gov in 2010
Post five additional new high value datasets to Data.gov
Review publicly available information to assure appropriate format
Will be done with Social Security's annual certification and review-12/2010
Reach out to key stakeholders to inform them of available information
Enhance our FOIA web page
4/2010: Completed 4/2010
Develop Data Quality Framework Plan
Contract data is provided by the Federal Procurement
Data System (FPDS). Agencies reporting contract data
to FPDS must also provide Program Source (i.e., Treasury
Account) data in a separate file until such time that FPDS
has been modified to provide this data field.
We use a Commercial Off The Shelf acquisition
application. The interface between this application and
FPDS will need to be aligned.
Migrate to a new grants management system, which
includes FFATA reporting capabilities and, thereby, report
via the DSVT, which is the required delivery process.
Deliver mandatory and entitlement payment data for
2007-2009 in the new FAADS Plus data format.
This is an interim process. We are evaluating the
requirements to migrate from the quarterly FAADS
reporting to Census to monthly reporting in the FAADS
Plus format per the requirements of M-09-19.
We are currently working with OMB to provide past program
Dependent on success of the file loading process.
Requirements analysis and migration strategy expected to be
completed by September 2010.
Review changes to information dissemination and
compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act per April
2010 OMB guidance.
Information dissemination evaluation is ongoing and will reflect
4/2010 OMB guidance and due dates.
Inform public and employees about their ideas adopted from portals
Post information about FACA groups online
5/2010: Completed 5/2010
Make decision on posting list of national public meetings held by agency
Use electronic bulletin boards and webinars to inform the public and to obtain public feedback
Ongoing beginning in 9/2010
Create internal hosting capacity based on Drupal platform and share experience with Federal community
Make decision on hosting open government education webcasts for colleges/universities
Continue portal and idea sharing opportunities for employees
Issue Draft Open Government Plan (containing Communication Plan Summary) and share it with public and employees
Establish executive level open government steering committee
Announce new employee honor award for open government
Revised Agency Strategic Plan
Annual Performance Plan reflects open government activities
Post open government materials on agency Intranet
Post open government scores on website
As soon as available
We will continuously engage external and internal audiences about our efforts and results on transparency,
participation, and collaboration. Specifically, we will:
We will foster the public's use of the information we release, in order to increase public knowledge and
promote public scrutiny of agency services . Our activities will include face-to-face meetings, conference
appearances, social media, and other electronic participation and collaboration tools.
We will use our Internet site (www.socialsecurity.gov) as one platform for sharing information and
providing opportunities for participation and collaboration with the public. We will also launch new
platforms using a cloud environment. Internally, we will use our agency Intranet as a platform for keeping
our employees informed and engaging them in open government ideas and initiatives.
The Office of Privacy and Disclosure (OPD) is one of the major components within the Office of the General
Counsel (OGC). Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/org/ogc.htm
to see a copy of OGC's Organization Chart. OPD
develops and interprets Social Security Administration 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.
Additionally, OPD develops policy for data exchange agreements governed by the Privacy Act and the
Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act (CMPPA).
OPD also directs all FOIA activities within the agency, including developing FOIA policies and procedures,
establishing national guidelines for handling FOIA requests, publishing the Annual Report on FOIA activities,
and reviewing FOIA and Privacy Act requests and appeals to determine the proper disclosure of records.
OPD Organizational Structure
We employ a "centralized" approach for handling all FOIA requests and appeals submitted to the agency.
To accomplish our FOIA mission, OPD's structure includes two Disclosure Policy Development Divisions,
each aligned to specific Social Security Regional Offices (visit www.socialsecurity.gov/foia/OPD_OrgChart.htm to see a copy of OPD's Organization Chart and regional alignment). This alignment helps
us efficiently and consistently process FOIA requests, and handle disclosure and privacy matters. Regional
staff may directly consult with the same core set of analysts on disclosure policy and procedure matters,
instead of going through a clearinghouse process that randomly assigns inquiries to a "pool" of analysts.
This arrangement also allows the OPD analyst to become familiar with privacy and disclosure issues that
may be unique to a particular geographic region due to State or local laws, or other influencing factors.
How We Process Requests
We receive FOIA requests via the internet, by fax, by email, and through the mail. visit
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps9/eFOIA-FEWeb/internet/main.jsp?action=OPD to go to our internet submission page, or visit www.socialsecurity.gov/foia/html/foia_guide.htm to see our mailing address, email address, and fax number.
Regardless of the submission method, we capture all FOIA requests in our electronic Freedom of
Information Act (eFOIA) system. We scan and image all paper requests (mail, email, and fax) into eFOIA,
whereas requests submitted through our internet request form go directly into eFOIA. As soon as we enter
a request into the system, or a person submits an online request, eFOIA generates an acknowledgement
letter. While this letter confirms for the requester our receipt of their request, it also provides a reference
number specifically assigned to their case, along with a voice mailbox telephone number the requester can
call to inquire on the status of his or her request. OPD maintains a policy of responding to all calls placed to
this number within one working day.
Under FOIA, we may charge fees to process certain FOIA requests. The eFOIA system
allows requesters to pay online for some routine requests, which accelerates our
responsiveness to the public and reduces our administrative costs.
We strive to handle each request within 20 days from the date we receive it. We process
requests under a "first in" "first out" basis. However, sometimes it may take us longer
depending on the complexity of the request, the amount of records sought, where the documents are
located, and how much other work we have.
A complex request may require us to obtain more information from either the requester, or from office(s)
within Social Security. A request may require us to seek paper records that we collectively maintain in
multiple geographic locations or in archived storage.
Prior to releasing records in response to a FOIA request, OPD conducts a thorough internal review to
ensure that we apply our privacy and disclosure rules consistently and accurately. The complexity and
nature of each request determines the level of review we require, which can include input and review
by other offices within Social Security such as the Office of General Law, the Press Office, or the Office of
Legislation and Congressional Affairs.
We take pride in our ability to act on Privacy Act and FOIA requests in an accurate and timely manner. The
result of our efforts in this area can best be seen in our Annual Report (visit www.socialsecurity.gov/foia/html/annualreports.htm to gain access to our annual reports). In 2009, Social Security responded to
over 31,000 FOIA requests, and ended the fiscal year with a backlog of less than three-tenths of
one percent of our total cases pending. The agency's performance is a testament to the experience and
quality of the workforce in OPD. The average analyst has been with Social Security for 22 years and has, on
average, 12 years of Privacy Act and FOIA experience.
Social Security continues to strive to improve our capacity and capability to respond to
Privacy Act and FOIA requests.
OPD maintains a commitment to use technology to enhance our capabilities. In 2007, OPD implemented a
new browser-based platform (eFOIA) designed specifically to automate much of the workflow for handling
Privacy Act and FOIA requests. In FY 2010, OPD has released four updates/changes/enhancements to the
system, with two more scheduled for release later in the FY to further improve our system.
Executive Lead for Open Government
Associate Chief Information Officer for Open Government
Executive Accountable for Publicly Disseminated Federal Spending Information Integrity
Deputy Commissioner for Quality Performance
Open Government Steering Committee Components
Office of the Chief Actuary | Office of the Chief Information Officer
Office of the General Counsel | Office of Budget, Finance and Management
Office of Communications | Office of Disability Adjudication and Review
Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs | Office of Operations | Office of Systems
Office of Quality Performance | Office of Retirement and Disability Policy
Agency home page
Open government portal
Open government plan progress http://www.socialsecurity.gov/open/plan-progress.html
Links to frequently requested information already posted http://www.socialsecurity.gov/open/requested-info.html
Top open government ideas list http://www.socialsecurity.gov/open/top-ideas.html
FOIA program http://www.socialsecurity.gov/foia
Records management program http://www.socialsecurity.gov/open/our-records-management-program.html
Information for Congress http://www.socialsecurity.gov/legislation
Data collection projects www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain
White House Open Government www.whitehouse.gov/open
Federal public datasets and information holdings (Data.gov) www.data.gov
General records schedule and National Archives and Records Administration policy www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/
Federal IT Dashboard www.whitehouse.gov/open/innovations/it-dashboard
Recovery Act spending reports http://www.Recovery.gov
Federal awards (USA Spending) www.usaspending.gov
 See March 2009 memo from Attorney General Holder.
 Compassionate allowances are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that often qualify for disability.
 See August 11, 2000 Executive Order 13166 "Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency" (www.justice.gov/crt/cor/13166.php).
Our Open Government Plan contained several commitments and which we updated our progress regularly.
2010 Open Government Plan Implementation Progress