NOTIFICATION BENEFICIARIES TEAM
Justine Traynor is being recognized for her efforts to transform the Social Security Administration’s constituent engagement through notices, one of the agency’s largest communications channels with the public. She has done so by developing a data-driven plan to ensure transformation success, going the extra mile to learn from the private sector and peer agencies about the best way to effect change, and leveraging technologies that are innovative to SSA. Her work has resulted in a modernized notices system that is shifting the agency from paper-based delivery of millions of forms to an online delivery system that was developed with consumer preferences and usage as key inputs. In addition to an improved customer experience, Justine’s work is reducing the notices burden by streamlining the number of field offices involved in common constituent communications, and providing an overall improvement in notice consistency, traceability and accessibility—improving constituents’ experiences in engaging with the agency, as a result. Finally, Justine’s leadership of the agency’s notice digitization has increased the security of constituent data by moving it into a more secure channel over which the agency has more direct control.
Justine’s leadership of SSA’s Communications Domain has targeted improving SSA’s ability to connect with, educate, and respond to the public’s needs through multiple channels (i.e., by mail, as well as via digital channels). The scale of the domain is tremendous and Justine has tackled the large scope and complexity of the domain successfully. For context, SSA mails more than 250 million paper notices a year——a process that involves more than 1400 offices, thousands of notice types, and the use of hundreds of legacy applications. Maintaining these diverse systems is labor intensive and inefficient. Justine has harnessed the necessary data and expertise to assess and map out this domain’s transformation to ensure SSA can more fully meet the needs of users who prefer more modern and digital communication methods.
SERVICE TO THE CITIZEN AWARD WINNER
Transformation via innovation and collaboration: Transforming the Communication Domain’s notices process is an immense task. The systems and infrastructure are not able to easily adapt to policy changes, internal and external user needs, or service channels. In addition, making changes to notices is a difficult and lengthy process, largely because of the tight integration with legacy programmatic systems. Justine went above and beyond in leading the Communication transformation by convening a cross-functional team and collaborating with 12 different stakeholder groups. This extra collaboration allowed Justine to effectively document notice business process workflows where documentation had not existed before, identify potential areas of improvement and modernization, and prepare recommendations for the future state Enterprise Communication Architecture that would enable SSA to provide the highest standard of considerate and thoughtful services to the public for generations to come.
Further, Justine’s team used an agile approach to coordinate testing for each release- a process that was relatively new for the organization. In FY19, the team quadrupled the Agile project standard, releasing 8 times instead of the standard twice per year. The end result is a proven methodology and system that puts the agency on a path to success in future expansion of online notices in the digital delivery channel to improve customer experience and align with their communication needs.
Improvements to Citizens’ Daily Lives: Justine has improved service to the public in the Communication domain’s modernization in part by leveraging creative sources of data and analysis to ensure her modernization plan was shaped by data-driven decisions. In particular, she has taken on the charge of modernizing with SSA’s most vulnerable in mind: in her planning process, she took extra time and resources to investigate how and which notices impact customers with disabilities, and identified communication requirements and optimal delivery methods for specific populations such as blind and deaf recipients. She has also leveraged thought leadership from peer agencies to help determine the prioritization of which notices to digitize first, how to best achieve cost savings, and which consumer impacts should be considered priority (e.g. ease of use, online access, etc.).
Under Justine Traynor’s leadership, SSA’s Communications Domain has made significant headway in rethinking and reshaping how the agency delivers notices and engages with constituents—evolving from that of strictly mailed paper notices to a more modern view of communicating important content using recipients’ preferred mode of communication—either via self-service digital channels or via paper mail for those who still prefer that mode.
Justine led her team to successfully streamline the mammoth notices process and implemented online notices to ensure customers receive and access timely, clear, and helpful correspondence through their preferred service delivery channel. This year, of the tens of millions of Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) notices generated, about a quarter were processed online. Survey data indicates a favorable customer experience from this change, with the vast majority of customers finding it very easy or easy to access their COLA notice online and stating that they would recommend the online COLA notice to family and friends.
By modernizing the notice generation and delivery systems and transforming the underlying business processes, Justine has improved the experience of constituents in engaging with the agency. She has transformed an outdated process through her collaborative approach and innovative solutions to ensure SSA’s service to the public includes corresponding with customers as a unified, easily accessible entity.