History of SSA During the Johnson Administration 1963-1968



Naturally, with the enactment of Medicare and the other vast new or expanded social security programs, a tremendous recruitment program was undertaken. The Social Security Administration expanded from a
workforce of 35,642 in 1964 to the present workforce of more than 53,000.

Although this expansion of some 18,000 represented an enormous recruitment accomplishment, the figures only reveal a part of the effort recruitment at all levels from grade 2 to grade 17; recruitment of a variety of specialists such as medical cost accountants, systems analysts, operations research analysts, health insurance analysts, management analysts, contract compliance specialists, economists, and others; recruitment of college-level talent at both the bachelors and graduate degree level; and recruitment for a large variety of clerical occupations.

This period of rapid growth in the Administration's responsibilities and organization size was accompanied by a substantial development and strengthening of the Social Security Administration's staff of senior executives. During the early part of this period many of the Social Security Administration's senior executives were in the position of having been assigned increased burdens and responsibilities without having received commensurate increases in compensation. The inequity of this situation was exacerbated, of course, by the expansion of old programs and the addition of new ones in 1965. The new programs of health insurance for the aged not only placed added burdens on the existing staff, but made highly desirable the recruitment of executives from outside the agency who possessed the knowledge and ability to implement these new programs and who were known and respected in the health community. Two of the more important were Dr. Thomas G. Bell and Mr. Thomas M. Tierney.{1}

Dr. Bell, was appointed Assistant Bureau of Health Insurance Director for Insurance Operations on April 28, 1966. Dr. Bell had for almost two years been the Executive Director of the Colorado State Department of Public Welfare. Earlier he had been Director of the Kern County Welfare Department in Bakersfield, California, and from 1954 to 1957 served in the same capacity for the Plumas County Welfare Department in Quincy, California. Up to that time his entire professional career had been in the administration of public welfare programs--in Colorado and California.

In March 1967 Mr. Tierney of Denver, Colorado, was selected as the new Director of Health Insurance. Tierney, President of Colorado Hospital Service (Blue Cross) was a Denver attorney and nationally-known expert in health care administration. In 1962-1963 Tierney was a member of the National Committee on Health Care for the Aged. He had served as Chairman or member of several councils and advisory committees of the American Hospital Association including advisory committees to the Social Security Administration and to the Defense Department. He had been Chairman of the Colorado Hill-Burton Hospital Advisory Council, past Chairman of the Denver Mayor's Commission on Community Relations and was Regional Co-Chairman of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

In addition, the Social Security Administration brought in William E. Hanna, Jr., as Director of the Bureau of Data Processing and Accounts in December 1967. The Bureau of Data Processing and Accounts is generally considered to be the world's largest recordkeeping operation. Mr. Hanna, with long experience in automatic data processing, came to the Social Security Administration from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where he had been Director of the Programs and Resources Division of
the Office of Advanced Research and technology.{2}

To further strengthen the organization, the position of Deputy Commissioner of Social Security was created. Arthur E. Hess, theDirector of the Bureau of Health Insurance was promoted to the post in March 1967. {3}

In December of 1966 the executive situation was somewhat ameliorated through the allotment to the Social Security Administration of an additional 30 positions in the "supergrade" range (i.e., GS-16 through GS-18). Since the Social Security Administration's allotment had been but 20 of these positions, this represented an increase of 150%. Five were allotted at the GS-18 level, twelve at the GS-17 level, and thirty-three at the GS-16 level, for a new total of 50 supergrades. This served to provide the Social Security Administration's top staff with compensation more in line with the responsibilities assigned to them, and to assist the Social Security Administration in attracting and retaining experienced and knowledgeable executives for the competent administration of its new professional and technical areas of work.

Career Development Programs

The Social Security Administration has long involved itself in training and developmental programs, but in the main, these were localized efforts within an office or bureau, or, in the field, within a region. Each plan was devised to serve the unique training and developmental needs of a given organizational component. The structures of the various programs and the grade levels for which they were designed varied widely from one plan to another. This piecemeal situation worked reasonably-well for some time--when the Administration was younger, somewhat smaller, and far less diverse.

Additional responsibilities given the Administration by Congress in successive legislative actions, particularly the enactment of the 1965 Health insurance program, resulted in a rapid, almost explosive expansion in the number of persons employed. In its installations throughout the country, the Administration found it necessary to add large numbers of personnel within a relatively short time to be able to administer the new programs both effectively and efficiently. At the same time the need became more acute to identify and develop executive talent, both incoming and already present within the organization.

In 1964, the Social Security Administration's Bureau of District Office Operations' San Francisco Regional Office put into effect a regional staff development program involving planned rotational assignments of personnel in Grades GS-10 through 13 within the San Francisco Region. Several other regions soon followed suit. The acceptance which the several regional executive development programs met led to a coordination of the plans by the Bureau of District Office Operations' central office. This involved the formulation of a single Bureau of District Office Operations' "Executive Development Program" for all of its personnel in Grades GS-10 to 13, both in the central office and in the more than 700 district offices throughout the country.

The rapid increase in the size of individual bureaus and offices intensified the need for a coordinated Administration-wide approach to all phases of the optimum use of human resources. This led the Office of Administration's Division of Personnel to draft a prototype "SSA Career Development Program" in 1965. This program, designed to cover professional, technical, and management employees in Grades 11 through 13, was the first attempt to create a coordinated career development plan for a segment of personnel spanning virtually all of the Social Security Administration's organizational components.

The Career Development Program was described as ". . . a planned sequence of developmental experiences of two years' duration for carefully selected Social Security Administration employees who have demonstrated superior potential for career growth."

Another factor, apart from the Administration's expansion in size, complexity, and responsibilities, has been an increasing spur to Administration planning for centrally coordinated training and career development programs. The time span of the Social Security Administration's existence is just over 30 years; thus, for the first time, the Social Security Administration is entering a period of inescapably heavy turn over in positions of leadership because of retirements that will occur in the ranks of top management. The Social Security Administration was set up as an organization in 1936 and 1937. A full generation has passed and individuals who rose to positions of leadership in the organization during that generation have now reached, or soon will reach, retirement age. This condition generally prevails, with only minorvariations, from the branch chief/district manager level thiough the bureau director/assistant commissioner level. Of 1,000 employees at GS-13 and above in managerial and supervisory positions alone, it is anticipated that approximately 369 will retire or leave for other reasons by 1971-1973, and a cumulative total of 607 will retire orleave by 1976-1977. Losses in this category in 1968 are projected toa total of 183.

At the same time, in 1966-1967, another Division of Employee Development work group began to design an Executive Development Program as a complementary plan to the Staff Development Program. Originally intended to cover executives in Grades GS-14 and 15, it was later broadened to include GS-16, as well. Like the Staff Development Program, this program was to consist of rotational job assignments in different components, plus continued formal and on-the-job training.

The Executive Development Program became operational in May 1968, with an initial group of 16 executives who were appointed to the new position of an Social Security Administration Fellow. Participants were chosen from installations throughout the Administration, both in the central office and in the field. The major elements of the Executive Development Program are planned work assignments, formal training opportunities, special projects and assignments, and a planned reading program. The work assignments are to be meaningful developmental positions, chosen so as to complement and/or supplement the experience the participant already has, and may be in any component of the Social Security Administration or in another agency of the Department.

Formal-training opportunities of widely varying content and length are available with the Government, from colleges and universities, and from professional organizations. Within the Social Security Administration, for example, these may include seminars held on a one or two-week live-in basis, emphasizing the present and future role of the Social Security Program in the national setting, and exploring management philosophy and administrative policy.

A major source of formal training opportunities is the Civil Service Commission's Executive Seminar Series. These cover such pertinent areas as Administration of Public Policy, Federal Program Management, Management of Organizations, the National Economy and the Federal Executive, and intergovernmental Programs and Problems. There are special four-week programs offered at Kings Point, New York, and Berkeley, California, similarly dealing with the administration of public policy, the environment of Federal operations, and Federal program management.

There are a number of university-sponsored executive development programs which encourage participation by public officials. Outstanding among these are the Harvard University Graduate School's Management Development Program, about three months in length, designed for high-level executives being considered for policy-making positions; and the University ofWisconsin Institutes, a series of two-week summer institutes for public officials on such topics as Innovation and Planned Change in Administrative Systems, and Public Policy and Social Issues.

Several programs are available on a continuing basis, wherein executives meet periodically with authors and lecturers to discuss current ideas and issues. These ongoing programs include the Ideas and Authors Programs sponsored by the Civil Service Commission; the Executive Seminar Series sponsored by the Executive Institute; and Critical Issues and Decisions, sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture's Graduate School.

Special projects and assignments are made as opportunities occur to assign participants to such projects as advisory committees and task forces. This represents still another means to enhance the development of the executive. Projects are undertaken within or between bureaus and offices in the Administration or, in selected instances, they could be in another agency in a different branch or level of Government. In addition, individuals or groups of participants are encouraged to undertake challenging research projects.

Administration of the Executive Development Program is furnished by an Executive Review Board. The Assistant Commissioner for Administration is the permanent chairman, and the other members are bureau and office heads serving on a rotating basis. The Board makes recommendations to bureau and office heads regarding a variety of developmental experiences, based on Administration needs as well as individual executive interests.

As participants complete individual developmental experiences, the Board makes assessments and recommendations: whether further specific training is desirable; whether lateral assignments should be made; how successful a participant's experiences have been; whether special project assignments might be useful; and whether the individual is ready for greater responsibility. Staff support to the Executive Review Board is furnished by the Division of Training and Career Development in cooperation with the Division of Personnel.

Within the Social Security Administration there are other developmental programs that cover the same grades and have essentially the same purpose as the Staff Development Program. Upon establishment of the Staff Development Plan, these programs will become a part of the Staff Development Program. The important role of the bureaus in selecting participants for the Social Security Administration/Staff Development Program, working out their individual developmental plans, and evaluating the program's progress in attaining its objectives will assure that the program will meet the needs of each bureau and office. In addition, bureau and regional career development programs, especially at the GS-9 to GS-10 level, will provide potential candidates with valuable background for the Staff Development Program.

The kinds of developmental experiences to be provided in the Staff Development Program are basically similar to those found in the Executive Development Program. Specific assignments will, of course, reflect the somewhat lower grade structure of the Staff Development Program participants. Work assignments will be both intra-bureau or office and inter-bureau or office in scope. In addition, there will be both formal and informal training experiences and reading assignments.

The sources for formal training experiences will include a large number of Social Security Administration in-service training programs. Management and skills development courses are regularly scheduled at the Social Security Administration's central office and in payment centers and other field installations. There are also many interagency training programs; the Interagency Training Program Bulletin, published annually by the Civil Service Commission, provides detailed descriptive information on available management and skills development programs conducted by the Commission and other Government agencies. The Commission also distributes, on a monthly basis, the Interagency Training Program Calendar, which provides current information on course scheduling.

Colleges and universities provide a wide range of courses in the fields of management, administration, and technical and professional subjects. The Social Security Administration's Division of Training and Career Development maintains a large selection of college catalogs and bulletins. Many colleges and universities offer special programs designed to fulfill particular management-type needs. There are also numerous private and professional organizations offering a variety of programs in the areas of management, administration, and professional and technical competence.

Informal training experiences in the Staff Development Program will Include discussion groups, either general or specific in nature; professional conferences and seminars, used to initiate and develop the participants and to keep them abreast of trends and developments in specialized fields; Social Security Administration meetings, which can provide valuable insight into the problems the Social Security Administration deals with and the kinds of deliberation involved in attempting to solve them; and personal conferences, wherein the Staff Development Program participants will periodically consult with their supervisors or experienced workers in specialized fields, either to keep up to date or to obtain specific guidance.

Administration of the Staff Development Program will be furnished by a Social Security Administration/Staff Development Program Coordinating Council. The Director of the Division of Training and Career Developmemt will be the permanent chairman, and members will be the Director of the Division of Personnel, a representative of the Office of Assistant Commissioner, Field, and representatives from each of the operating bureaus.

The Executive Development Program has moved from concept to reality with the placement of the first group of Social Security Administration Fellows in their initial assignments. The Staff Development Program is about to become operational. As new as these plans are, they will shortly become elements in a newer and larger program, a comprehensive SSA-wide Career Service Plan being designed to bring a broad range of career development and training opportunities to literally all Social Security Administration employees.

The Social Security Administration-wide Career Service Plan has a two-fold objective: to provide placement, training, and counseling opportunities to clerical, technical, supervisory, and administrative employees, commensurate with their needs at both their present and potential levels of attainment; and to ensure that the Social Security Administration's current and projected future manpower skill requirements are met by a competent and dedicated workforce.

A Social Security Career Service Board will administer the Career Service Plan. The Board will recommend career development policies, evaluate the Plan's operation periodically, and will institute any changes that may be needed.{4}

Employee Management Relations and Equa1 Employment Opportunity Special Staff

In 1963, there were two particularly significant events which were instrumental to the creation of the Employee Management Relations and Equal Employment Opportunity Special Staff. In August, Lodge #1923 of the American Federation of Government Employees gained Exclusive Recognition under Executive Order 10988 to represent the nonsuper-visory employees at the Social Security Administration headquarters. {5} Also in August, Commissioner Ball met with the President of the Maryland NAACP to discuss charges against the Social Security Administration made by that organization. The NAACP alleged that "racially discrimatory policies of hiring and promotion" were being followed in the Baltimore offices of the Social Security Administration. As a result of this meeting, the Commissioner agreed to appoint an advisory committee to make a review of the Social Security Administration personnel policies and practices in Baltimore. The Advisory Committee was formed on August 30, consisting of representatives from the Baltimore Community (Dr. Furman L. Templeton, Executive Director of the Baltimore Urban League, and the Honorable Clarence M. Mitchell, III, then a member of the Maryland House of Delegates), the headquarters employees (Thomas D. Smith, Jr., President of the AFGE Lodge #1923, and the Administration (Fred Nichols, then Special Assistant to the Commissioner, and Louis Zawatzky, then Deputy Director of the Division of Management who acted as Committee Chairman).

This Advisory Committee conducted an extensive review of personnel policies and practices and reported its recommendations to the Commissioner in May 1964. Among the recommendations, was the suggestion that the Committee be reconvened in early 1965 to review the accomplishments of the Administration. The Committee was reconvened in August 1965 for this purpose and submitted its final report to theCommissioner in May 1966.

In order to deal more effectively with the large and militant union and to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the Advisory Committee, two Special Assistants (Herbert C. Creech and Fred Nichols), were assigned to the Deputy Director of the Division of Management in July 1965. Because of increasing activities in the equal employment and union areas, the Special Staff for Employee Management Relations and Equal Employment Opportunity was formed in April 1966. The Staff was to work in four major areas:

1. Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and Procedures for the Social Security Administration's in-house Equal Employment Opportunity program,

2. Contracts Compliance review of Medicare intermediaries and carriers,

3. Community Relations, and,

4. Employee-Management Relations.

In the Employee Management Relations (EMR) and internal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) areas, the staff has had much to do in making the SocialSecurity Administration a model employer in personnel policies and practices. Many of the Employee Management Relations achievements have been noted in the history of AFGE Lodge #1923. {6} In addition to the headquarters exclusive bargaining unit, there have been 78 exclusive recognitions granted to units outside the central office. These include district offices, all of the payment centers except Kansas City, the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals, and the Bureau of Federal Credit Unions. Approximately 25,000 Social Security Administration employees are in exclusive bargaining units and approximately 90% of these employees are working under the 32 agreements negotiated between the Social Security Administration and lodges of the three national unions holding exclusive recognitions (American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), National Federation of Federal Employees (NFEE ), and National Association of Government Employees (NAGE). The Special Staff has provided the Social Security Administration guidance in the negotiation and administration of these agreements and the other multi-faceted experiences in dealing with unions. The impact on personnel administration made by the powerful and sophisticated unions representing the Social Security Administration employees has been very substantial, and the relationships between SSA management and union leadership has been fruitful and productive in terms of making the Social Security Administration a better employer.{7}

In the internal Equal Employment Opportunity area, the Social Security Administration's advances can be summarized by a quote from a recent report to Congressman William F. Ryan. "The Social Security Administration now employs 11,520 Negroes, 22.5% of its total workforce; in 1962 the Social Security Administration employed 4,122 Negroes which represented 13.6 percent of the workforce."

Employment opportunities for the Negroes in the Social Security Administration have been increasing at an accelerated rate. During the period from July 1965 through September 1966, the percentage of Negroes among the total number of employees hired was 22.9 percent; from September 1,966 through November 1967, this figure was 34.5 percent of the total number of employees hired.

Significant progress is also being made at all grade levels as promotional opportunities open up. It is most significant that Negroes have, in recent years, received a higher proportion of promotions than they represent in the Social Security Administration employee population. For example, from July 1965 through September 1966, Negroes received 18.8 percent of the promotions made in the Social Security Administration when, at the beginning of the period, they represented 16.4 percent of total employment. From September 1966 through November 1967, Negroes received 25.6 percent of the promotions when, at the beginning of the period, they represented 18.4 percent of total Social Security Administration employment.

Hiring the Handicapped

The White House policy statement of September 6, 1961, to heads of executive departments and agencies restated and reemphasized the Federal commitment to employ and fully utilize the handicapped. Since the inception of the handicapped program, the Social Security Administration has given great emphasis to the placement of the mentally retarded, the blind, and others. More than 1,000 handicapped have been hired under this program.

The Social Security Administration established a full-time position as Coordinator for the Handicapped to work closely with interested public and private groups, with handicapped applicants, and with Social Security Administration management in reengineering existing positions, establishing new positions, and developing, in general, new ways and means for the utilization of capable handicapped employees.

With the President's encouragement and the Civil Service Commission's adoption of new examining and appointment techniques, the Social Security Administration made great strides in the employment of the handicapped during the period from 1963 to 1968. Employees with a wide variety of impairments comprise the Social Security Administration's present handicapped program. For example, employees with single and multiple amputations, paraplegia, blindness, deafness, inactive tuberculosis, controlled diabetes, varying degrees of psychological involvement, and mental retardation have all found productive careers within the Social Security Administration.

The program for the mentally retarded has grown rapidly and the goal of placing at least one mental retardate in every Class I district office, several in each of the six payment centers, and a larger number in Central Office is now within reach. From a total of 29 retardates on duty in, June 1967, this program now has expanded to some 115 mental retardates. {8}

Footnotes (Footnote numbers not same as in the printed version)

{1} SSA Press Releases, April 28, 1966, March 8, 1967.

{2} SSA Press Release, December 11, 1967.

{3} SSA Press Release, March 8, 1967.

{4} Task Force on Executive Staffing, Statement of Assignment, October 28, 1967; SSA, Staff Development Program, January 1968; SSA, Executive Development Program, No. 1, April 15, 1968; booklet, SSA, Bureau of District Office Operations, Executive Development Program, December 1966; booklet, SSA, Staff Development Program; booklet, SSA, Executive Development Program, January 1968; booklet, SSA, Bureau of Federal Credit Unions, Training Program for Financial Counselors.

{5} Exclusive Recognition of Lodge #1923.

{6} Exclusive Recognition of Lodge 1923.

{7} Exclusive Recognition of Lodge 1923.

{8} The Baltimore News American, June 2, 1967; "New Vistas Opening for Mentally Retarded," Oasis, February 1968, pp 25-26; The Times 10/26/67; Baltimore Evening Sun, 9/26/67; SSA,"Program for Handicapped Persons."