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The 2016 W. Edwards Deming Training Award Winner

Home / The 2016 W. Edwards Deming Training Award Winner

The 2016 W. Edwards Deming Training Award Winner




Social Security Administration,
Continuous Quality (CQ) Area Director Review Process Team

Congratulations to the 2016 Deming Award Winner: the Social Security Administration, Continuous Quality (CQ) Area Director Review Process Team. This team exemplifies the qualities that W. Edwards Deming promoted in his teachings—the transformative powers of lifelong learning and the importance of cooperation and support among teams.
Project Description:
SSA Continuous Quality Area Director Review

Social Security Administration (SSA) employees administer benefits to approximately 60 million beneficiaries. We created the Continuous Quality (CQ) Area Director Review Process to improve the accuracy and quality of workloads processed in our field offices. CQ has succeeded in educating our technicians and improving our work processes by defining the scope of process deficiencies and pinpointing where errors are occurring.

At its core, CQ provides direct, timely feedback to employees making overpayment determinations, disability onset decisions, and processing continuing disability reviews prompted by work activity. Managers discuss reviewer findings directly with technicians to emphasize the accuracy and quality of our work products. Reviews generate interactive discussions while not being utilized for performance ratings.

Since January 2014, Area Director’s staff across the nation complete over 2,500 CQ reviews a month on targeted error-prone workloads. We have completed over 86,000 reviews with a 16 percent improvement in the rate of cases requiring corrective action since the program’s inception.

CQ provides management information detailing errors by category and compiles aggregate data to drive training decisions: locally, regionally, or nationally in scope. Office managers look for trends within their own office, and use the results to provide targeted training. Area and Regional staff initiate specific training needs on a wider scale, using the higher-level summary corrective action and error rate details available on the CQ Tool, which captures all case review data.

Nationally, we used the data derived from 2014 reviews to publish a “Data Analysis Report” containing over 200 recommendations, in January 2015. The findings prompted SSA components to adopt over 54 percent of recommended policy clarifications to date, and integrated more than 60 percent of the training recommendations into existing technician training. In addition, several targeted training tools were developed.

We continue to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback about the CQ process from employees, managers, and reviewers.

  • “Overall, the project has really helped identify training needs in my office.”
  • “The review process truly brings to light the areas that need to be focused on during claims processing.”
  • “It is so important that we not sacrifice quality for quantity. We all agree that it is most important that what we do, we do correctly. With the correct focus on training, policy, and systems improvements, this initiative will ensure that we get ‘the right check to the right person.’” (Statement from SSA Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin)

CQ has revitalized SSA’s emphasis on quality, training, and consistency of our decisions. The adaptability of the CQ Area Director Review Process will empower SSA to continue to improve training and employee development in the years to come.


Learn more about the Deming Award.