SSA ORGANIZATIONAL MANUAL

Chapter TE

THE OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, COMMUNICATIONS


  1. Mission

    The Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Communications (ODCComm) is the SSA component responsible for the conduct of the Agency’s national public information/public affairs (PI/PA) programs. Performs SSA Press Office function to ensure a unified and consistent message to SSA’s many audiences. 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.
  2. Organization
    1. The Deputy Commissioner, Communications (TE)
    2. The Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications (TE)
    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 National and Intergovernmental Affairs (TEGA)
      2. The Office of Measurement, Evaluation, and Community Outreach (TEGC)
  3. Functions
    1. The Deputy Commissioner, Communications (TE) is directly responsible to the Commissioner for carrying out ODCCOMM's mission and providing managerial direction to the major components of ODCCOMM.
    2. The Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications (TE) 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 information/public affairs (PI/PA) materials ranging from publications, videos, webinars, and other materials. Provides direct and indirect programmatic support through the use of 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/Intranet websites. Responsible for the development, content, and coordination of SSA’s marketing activities.
      1. The Office of Public and Employee Communications (TEBA)
        1. Develops, directs, and evaluates SSA communications strategies and PI/PA activities.
        2. Ensures the Office of Communications (OCOMM) PI/PA materials adhere to agency policies and standards.
        3. Directs the development of PI/PA content for agency communications including publications, videos, webinars, and other material.
        4. Provides ongoing advice and support to SSA components regarding program specific regional and local PI/PA activities.
        5. Provides captioning support for agency events and videos, and creates audio publications
      2. The Office of Electronic Communications (TEBC)
        1. 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.
        2. Directs and coordinates SSA Internet and Intranet content management activities.
        3. Provides guidance on organization, clarity, and audience focus of content submitted for placement on SSA’s internal and external websites.
        4. Coordinates and develops web materials for SSA’s Internet and Intranet.
        5. Identifies information of the greatest use to the public and makes the information available in readily accessible formats on the Internet.
        6. Develops strategies to address PI/PA issues, and produces materials that serve the special communications needs of the non-English speaking population.
        7. 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 and procedure and guide language on recurring topics and issues for use throughout the Agency. 
      1. The Office of Policy, Procedures and Operations Support (TEH1).
        1. Develops policy and procedures concerning the style, control, workflow and signature of correspondence and disseminates the information to headquarters components.
        2. Performs a pre-release quality review of final replies prepared in the Office of Public Inquiries (OPI) to ensure that they are well-written, accurate and responsive.
        3. Designs and administers OPI's electronic correspondence management system and provides support to system users.
        4. 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).
        1. Collects, stores, and maintains information needed to respond to public inquiries.
        2. Prepares responses in conformance with SSA standards, policies and procedures.
        3. Performs correspondence receipt, screening, imaging, routing and letter-writing functions. Identifies sensitive inquiries and trends and reports them to appropriate officials.
        4. 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 the Office of Communications 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 National and Intergovernmental Affairs (TEGA). 
        1. Plans, directs and implements a program designed to develop and preserve working relationships with a wide variety of national organizations, special interests and advocacy groups in order to secure understanding, cooperation and acceptance of SSA programs, policies and procedures.
        2. Provides overall direction in the development of a liaison program with national special interest and advocacy groups through their leaders to elicit their concerns and reactions to SSA initiatives. Directs the design and development of SSA's regional external affairs program, including liaison with outside groups and organizations; Federal/State interface; and preparation and dissemination of information through the media.
        3. Oversees the monitoring of plans, administrative and policy proposals, and work products of other SSA components in headquarters and the regions to assess their impact on institutions, public and private organizations and special interest groups.
        4. Initiates short- and long-range projects or assignments of substantial importance to the Office of Communications. The projects are initiated to solve problems resulting from adverse impacts of SSA programs and program service delivery on special groups or the general public.
        5. Provides leadership in advising Agency component management on the interests of groups and organizations and their potential reaction to administrative and policy proposals and work products.
        6. Identifies techniques and strategies that assist in implementing SSA's Communication Plan initiatives; analyzes and identifies target markets; plans, promotes, and distributes ideas, products and services to create exchanges that satisfy customer and organizational goals.
        7. Directs the design and development of SSA’s intergovernmental programs including liaison with outside groups and organizations; Federal/State interface; and preparation and dissemination of information.
      2. The Office Measurement, Evaluation, and Community Outreach (TEGC).
        1. Develops, manages and/or performs qualitative measurement and evaluation activities of communications initiatives and products to assess their impact on the public, external organizations and Social Security employees.
        2. Develops and manages quantitative measurement and evaluation activities and processes designed to measure Agency-level communications-related objectives
        3. Ensures that SSA communication plans contain measurable objectives that optimize the value of SSA’s communication activities in support of the Agency’s mission.
        4. Conducts demographic and market research to assist in the development of effective communications products and services.
        5. Serves as a focal point for Agency activities regarding public insight to proposed/ongoing electronic government products/initiatives.
        6. Serves as SSA liaison to the greater Baltimore community through contacts with community leaders, private businesses and local government agencies and ensuring that their opinions and expectations are relayed to the Agency.
        7. Represents SSA on boards of Federal and local agencies and communicates with the appropriate offices of major businesses, the Mayor, County Executives and the Governor.
        8. Coordinates special Agency initiatives and special observances.