Application helps SSA meet the letter of the law

Application helps SSA meet the letter of the law

Program ensures 2 million notices are sent to public with language approved by agency lawyers

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

To make sure the letters and notices it sends out meet legal specifications, the Social Security Administration relies on a select-and-paste document application.

'We produce a fantastic number of notices every year,' said Bruce Hanger, chief of SSA's Language Support Service Branch. 'These are hard-copy documents that we send to someone in the public. Of those, there are some portions of some notices that we must review.'

Each year, SSA pumps out nearly 250 million notices. Roughly 2 million of the notices need special attention'either because information is missing or because specific language is required to conform to the law or SSA regulations, Hanger said.

To handle this subset of letters and notices, SSA uses iD Text 3301 from Cincom Systems Inc. of Cincinnati. ID Text is a component of Cincom's Intelligent Development Environment, a document management package.

SSA still uses dumb-terminal technology to give SSA users access to data stored as flat files in a Hitachi GX8824 mainframe from Hitachi Data Systems Corp. running IBM OS/390. To tap the mainframe data, SSA case workers use Pentium PCs running Microsoft Windows NT to log on to Cognex MVS-8000 terminals from Cognex Corp. of Natick, Mass.

The terminals run VXT 3270 Terminal Emulator Software Version 1.0 from Compaq Computer Corp. so the iD Text program will emulate a client application compatible with the mainframe's Systems Network Architecture and give users access to the letter data.

The flat files contain more than 15,000 specific language clauses that SSA's lawyers have approved, Hanger said.

After constructing a letter, SSA users either print it out for mailing or store it in a holding file for review by another SSA officer, Hanger said.

ID Text lets SSA ensure that the letters it sends out contain only standard, approved language, he said.

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