The Social Security Administration must reinvent itself and embrace technology to meet increasing work demands while contending with a shrinking labor force and other issues, according to a recent report.

In a report released in June, the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) provided recommendations as to how the agency can confront and overcome tighter budgets, the loss of experienced workers, increased workloads, and the ever-changing expectations of consumers who keep shifting their preference toward the digital delivery of services rather than in-person office visits.

The NAPA, a nonprofit organization established in 1967 and chartered by Congress in 1984, believes the SSA needs to embrace digital technologies — on the web and through email and videoconferencing — because they are more efficient platforms to deliver services.

This may, however, mean the loss and consolidation of some positions, according to the white paper “Anticipating the Future: Developing a Vision and Strategic Plan for the Social Security Administration for 2025-2030.”

NAPA cautioned that the SSA still should remain committed to in-person services. But, over time, customers should begin to prefer SSA’s digital services rather than stopping by their offices for help.

Labor issues

The SSA employs more than 60,000 workers and has roughly 1,500 offices scattered across the U.S. Its workforce has an average age of 47 and one-third of its employees have at least 20 years of experience at the agency.

In recent years, however, the agency has been dealing with a deluge of retirements while also facing a hiring freeze that was imposed in FY 2010.

In order to counter this, NAPA suggested that the agency make its workforce more nimble by providing its workers with more training opportunities and multiple career paths so they stay interested in their jobs.

This could also allow more streaming and consolidation of duties and positions.

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