Chapter TE


  1. Mission

    The Office of Communications (OCOMM) is the SSA component responsible for the conduct of the Agency’s national public information/public affairs (PI/PA) programs. Provides guidance and direction from a PI/PA standpoint to the development of Agency policies and decisions and assesses their potential impact on the public and SSA employees. Creates, develops, facilitates, implements, oversees and evaluates all SSA communications and PI/PA activities, both internal and external. Cultivates and maintains effective working relationships with a wide range of national organizations, advocacy groups, other Federal agencies, State and local governments, the White House, and the media. Promotes full and open participation in the communications process between and among the public and SSA employees at all levels. Coordinates the non-English communications activities within SSA. Additionally, responds to high priority correspondence and public inquiries; maintains an evaluation program that measures efforts to meet the communications needs of the public and SSA employees; produces PI/PA material designed to provide SSA’s various audiences with timely information about Social Security programs, protections, rights and responsibilities and related issues; utilizes state-of-the-art media, methods and technology in product development and dissemination and fully supports headquarters and field employees who are directly or indirectly involved in SSA PI/PA activities nationwide. Leads SSA in fostering transparency through citizen participation and collaboration.
  2. Organization
    1. The Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Communications (TEA).
    2. The Office of the Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications (TEA).
    3. The Immediate Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Communications (TEA).
    4. The Office of Communications Planning and Technology (TEB).
      1. The Office of Public and Employee Communications (TEBA).
      2. The Office of Electronic Communications (TEBC).
    5. The Office of Public Inquiries (TEH).
      1. The Office of Policy, Procedures and Operations Support (TEH1).
      2. The Office of Inquiries Management, Analysis and Response (TEH2).
    6. The Office of External Affairs (TEG).
      1. The Office of External Outreach and Analysis (TEGA).
        1. The Data Analysis Team (TEGA1).
        2. The Outreach Team (TEGA2).
        3. The Social Media Team (TEGA3).
  3. Functions
    1. The Deputy Commissioner, Communications (TEA) is directly responsible to the Commissioner for carrying out OCOMM's mission and providing managerial direction to the major components of OCOMM.
    2. The Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications (TEA) assists the Deputy Commissioner in carrying out his/her responsibilities and performs other duties as the Deputy Commissioner may prescribe.
    3. The Immediate Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Communications (TEA) provides the Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Deputy Commissioner with staff assistance on the full range of their responsibilities.
    4. The Office of Communications Planning and Technology (TEB) directs the agency’s overall information and communications technology activities to ensure public knowledge and understanding of the programs and services administered by SSA. Formulates SSA’s measures, objectives, policies, standards and guidelines for public information programs and related communications technology applications designed to inform the public of the provisions of the programs administered by SSA. Prepares and disseminates a wide variety of internal and external public PI/PA materials ranging from publications, videos, webinars, and other materials. Provides direct and indirect programmatic support using state-of-the-art-media, methods, and technology. Evaluates the quality of information materials used within and external to SSA to ensure a uniformly high-quality product and assists in the design, development and delivery of PI/PA materials in SSA. Serves as a focal point for all issues involving the development, clearance, and placement of content on SSA’s Internet and Intranet websites. Responsible for the development, content, and coordination of SSA’s marketing activities.
      1. The Office of Public and Employee Communications (TEBA) develops, directs, and evaluates SSA communications strategies and PI/PA activities. Ensures OCOMM PI/PA materials adhere to agency policy and standards. Directs the development of PI/PA content for agency communications including publications, videos, webinars, and other material. Provides ongoing advice and support to SSA components regarding program specific regional and local PI/PA activities. Provides captioning support for agency events and videos, and creates audio publications.
      2. The Office of Electronic Communications (TEBC) provides ongoing technical advice and support to SSA components on the full range of PI/PA issues as they relate to the SSA Internet and Intranet. Directs and coordinates SSA Internet and Intranet content management activities. Provides guidance on organization, clarity, and audience focus of content submitted for placement on SSA’s internal and external websites. Coordinates and develops web materials for SSA’s Internet and Intranet. Identifies information of the greatest use to the public and makes the information available in readily accessible formats on the Internet. Develops strategies to address PI/PA issues, and procures materials that serve the special communications needs of the non-English speaking population. Directs the design, development, production, and distribution of PI/PA graphics, digital signage, photography, and print material within and external to SSA.
    5. The Office of Public Inquiries (TEH) provides a central receipt, control, acknowledgment, response and referral program for high priority and other inquiries addressed to SSA headquarters. Develops correspondence policy, procedure and guide language on recurring topics and issues for use throughout the agency. 
      1. 1. The Office of Policy, Procedures, and Operations Support (TEH1) develops policy and procedures concerning the style, control, workflow, and signature of correspondence and disseminates the information to headquarters components. Performs a pre-release quality review of final replies prepared in the Office of Public Inquiries to ensure that they are well written, accurate, and responsive. Designs and administers the electronic correspondence management system and provides support to system users. Directs the use of surveys and analyses to increase the effectiveness of the correspondence workflow process throughout SSA.
      2. The Office of Inquiries Management, Analysis and Response (TEH2) collects, stores, and maintains information needed to respond to public inquiries. Prepares responses in conformance with SSA standards, policies, and procedures. Performs correspondence receipt, screening, imaging, routing, and letter-writing functions. Identifies sensitive inquiries and trends and reports them to appropriate officials. Receives and responds to telephone inquiries.
    6. The Office of External Affairs (TEG) implements PI/PA programs and activities designed to develop, enhance and preserve good working relationships with the general public and a wide variety of national organizations, advocacy groups and other governmental organizations with an interest in SSA programs. Manages SSA-wide communications initiatives through a national framework of headquarters, regional and local PI/PA delivery strategies and processes. Deals directly with SSA employees and major stakeholder groups promoting a meaningful exchange of ideas, opinions and points of view. Facilitates the ongoing operational dealings between these external organizations and SSA headquarters and field components involved in local PI/PA activities. Conducts evaluation and assessment of the results and effects of PI/PA material produced by OCOMM and other SSA components. Provides operational oversight over the activities of the Regional Public Affairs Officers and all other national and local communications and public contact activities.
      1. The Office of External Outreach and Analysis (TEGA) conducts external stakeholder engagement with national groups and organizations through national partnerships, advocate meetings, and conferences. Coordinates and implements the agency’s national social media program and social media engagement with the public. Collects and analyzes data to determine the impact of our national outreach campaigns, messaging, and communications products and channels.
        1. The Data Analysis Team (TEGA1) ensures stakeholder engagement activities, including engagement and communication plans, contain measurement objectives. Performs qualitative and quantitative measurement and evaluation processes (surveys, focus groups, electronic bulletin boards, and other crowdsourcing of agency communication products, initiatives, policies, and services. Conducts demographic and market research. Continuously monitors stakeholder engagement activities, including communications plans, to assess if goals and objectives are being met. Provides measurement and data analysis of public engagement and communications activities. Provides support for commercial tools to measure and monitor outreach and social media tools. Leads agency activities regarding transparency of agency operations, citizen participation, and collaboration. Develops, implements, and tracks progress on plans to make Social Security a more open agency. Identifies information of the greatest use to the public and assists agency components in making the information available in readily accessible formats. Serves as the agency lead for the government-wide portal. Facilitates and encourages the use of emerging collaborative technology to foster broader citizen participation in government business.
        2. The Outreach Team (TEGA2) manages public PI/PA activities, including design and implementation of engagement plans for the agency’s major stakeholder groups. Through Public Engagement Workgroups, coordinates cross-component collaboration on external engagement activities. Conducts outreach and engagement with national stakeholder groups and organizations, governmental organizational faith-based groups, universities, labor groups, affinity groups, and community-based organizations and maintains contacts through the national database. Assists in the formulation and implementation of social media related to national stakeholder engagement. Manages events related to national stakeholder engagement, national, conference schedule, and exhibit program. Manages the implementation of external outreach activities, such as the National Disability Forum, advocate meetings, and national targeted conference call. Manages the Office of External Affairs’ electronic contacts database and communications with external stakeholders through the agency’s database. Manages national speaker bureau and coordinates with the regions. Manages agency level programs such as Combined Federal Campaign and special drives.
        3. The Social Media Team (TEGA3) manages the agency’s social media platforms and researches new social media tools. Publishes agency policies and procedures for official use social media and provides guidance on employee personal use of social media. Advises agency components on establishing and maintaining their own social media accounts. Oversees the development, implementation, and monitoring of the agency’s overall external electronic social media communications in the areas of PI/PA. Ensures the agency maintains a positive and engaged presence on social media by promoting brand awareness, supporting a high-quality customer experience, and sharing the conversation on Social Security programs and services.