The Washington Post

Federal Faces: Dave Broomell

Dave Broomell

Project manager, Chicago region, Social Security Administration

Best known for: Every year, more than 40 million people visit Social Security offices to apply for benefits or resolve a problem, and millions more reach out through the telephone, mail and the Internet.

Broomell, a longtime Social Security programmer and project manager, has helped make office visits more customer-friendly through innovative information technology solutions. He has also developed computer tools for employees, allowing them to offer more timely and efficient assistance to beneficiaries.

Colleagues describe Broomell as “Social Security’s version of Steve Jobs” because, like the late Apple founder, he regularly comes up with helpful innovations. More than a decade ago, Broomell helped create an automated intake process. He continually upgraded the system to include touch-screen monitors, TV wait-time displays and real-time management of information. He is collaborating with IT colleagues on a nationwide rollout of a new centralized Web-based customer-intake process that will replace the system he originally designed.

Broomell has created other programming, including a Web-based application that allowed the agency to clean up its records about administrative appeals for benefits and report the decisions in a fraction of the time. He also devised a computer program that allows supervisors to learn whether newly trained employees are processing claims and handling customer issues correctly.

Government work: Broomell worked from 1985 to 1997 as a Social Security claims representative before becoming an area systems coordinator and later taking on responsibilities as a computer programmer and project manager for the agency’s Center for Systems and Automation.

Motivation for service: While in college, Broomell spent a summer working for the Social Security Administration and realized how much he enjoyed serving the public. He later found his true calling by combining a keen interest in writing computer programs with helping improve customer service for Social Security recipients.

Biggest challenge: A major challenge has been balancing management responsibilities with the desire to write computer programs to improve Social Security operations. Focusing on creating IT efficiencies has become more difficult because of a sizable reduction in the programming staff.

Quote: “My main passion is to write computer programs that improve our service to the public and make the jobs of our employees more efficient and productive. A lot of IT systems people don’t understand how their efforts might impact the front-line employees, but I understand how the office works because of my time as a claims representative, and that gives me a unique perspective.”

— From the Partnership
for Public Service

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