Every year more than 45 million people visit a Social Security office. And as anyone who has visited the office knows, it can be plagued by long lines and tedious paperwork.
David Broomell, a longtime Social Security programmer and project manager, decided to make a change.
He created a program called VIP (Visitor Intake Process). It has been instrumental in creating new ways to make visits to Social Security offices more customer-friendly through innovative information technology solutions. For his work he has been made a finalist for the Partnership for Public Service’ Service to America Medals. The Oscars for feds.
Broomell told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that the idea for VIP came from his time as a frontline SSA worker.
Broomell helped transform an inefficient manual system used to check in and process visitors at Social Security offices nationwide by creating an automated intake process. He continually upgraded the system to include touch screen monitors, TV wait-time displays and real-time management of information.
Change From Experience
“I remember working in the office as a frontline employee as a claims representative for 15 years. I remember some of the days we would open the doors up to the public and we would have over 100 people already waiting in line. I knew a lot of those people would have to wait for hours. That’s what drove this VIP program.”
Boom to Expansion
“VIP started off slowly in our office in Minneapolis, then it expanded to area offices and then to regional offices and within a couple of years it expanded to all 13,000 offices. It is a huge times saver and employees and customers alike really appreciate it.”
How Did You Get Buy-In?
“In this case it was a no brainer. You knew something had to be done. With any programming project there were different returns on investment, sometimes it can be monetary, minimize errors, time savings. In this case the ROI was a bit more subjective it was customer and employee satisfaction. This product mades life easier for both employees and customers.”
How VIP Works
“There is the piece that the public sees. For example when you go to the SSA office, you went up to a self check-in, checked yourself in and let us know why you were there.”
This system contains the following information about each visitor that the staff can use:
- Visitor information, such as Social Security number, full name and date of birth, when such information is provided by the visitor;
- Visitor information, such as the time the visitor entered and left the office, an assigned group number, number of interviews associated with the visit and remarks associated with the visit;
- Appointment information, such as date and time of appointment, source of appointment and appointment unit number
- Interview information, such as each occurrence, subject of interview, estimated waiting time, preferred language, type of translator, the number of the interview in the queue, interview disposition.
“Dave is a unique individual who can see a problem from the side of the beneficiary and the employees,” said Andrew Philipson, the director of systems and automation at the Social Security Administration in Chicago. “He is Social Security’s version of Steve Jobs. Year after year, he comes up with something new to help the agency and the public.”
One Piece of Advice
“I do have a lot of passion for what I do. The only way you are going to be able to accomplish really essential things is if you really enjoy your work.”
You can find all our Sammies interviews here.
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