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The Social Security Administration (SSA) had a significant challenge on its hands: For many years, this large and robust agency was responsible for the complex endeavor of managing the Verbatim Hearing Recorder (VHR) program for the Offices of Disability and Review (ODAR) in the New England region and the numerous individual subcontractors that staffed it. The VHR program involves the management and scheduling of various specialists to support disability appeal hearings. SSA staff were tasked with organizing the schedules of judges, claimants, attorneys, medical experts, and translators, all while managing more than 65 court recorders, or VHRs. The VHRs each had negotiated their own individual fees and work schedules through a direct subcontract agreement with the SSA, adding to the difficulty.
Among the major complexities of the program were the large volume of hearing cancellations and the sizeable amount of paperwork that was submitted to SSA by the VHRs and judges. In addition, the SSA was responsible for contracting with individual subcontracted VHRs on a rolling, as-needed basis, communicating with each when scheduling changes arose.
The SSA sought a way to simplify the management of the VHR program: locate a dedicated contractor who could support the hiring, scheduling, communication, and coordination of the program, ultimately removing the job from SSA staff members.
The team at StratComm offered the solution SSA was looking for. With years of experience managing complex programs around the globe and all over the United States, StratComm welcomed the opportunity to provide assistance right in our own backyard. After a competitive procurement process, StratComm was awarded the contract to manage the VHRs in the New England region, largely due to our proven skill in analyzing, managing, and introducing efficiencies into complex programs.
Assuming the daily operations of the VHR program in New England, the StratComm team streamlined communications with the VHRs and introduced a new scheduling process. Our project managers worked tirelessly to ensure the transition process was seamless for VHRs by providing extensive training and support, and the ODAR offices by providing open communication and exceptional customer service.
Relying on our program management expertise, the StratComm team analyzed the VHR program, introduced efficiencies, and facilitated communications between SSA and the VHRs, coordinating the program under one management umbrella. Providing precisely the solution it sought, StratComm has earned praise from SSA for our efforts.
StratComm is pleased to announce that we are continuing to expand our relationship with the SSA, as we begin to manage the VHR program for ODAR in multiple states throughout the United States. After receiving accolades from SSA for our strong performance in New England, StratComm was pleased to receive further contract awards to manage VHR services in both New York and New Jersey, and most recently spanning the entire United States. During the past five years, StratComm has quadrupled its workforce, opened a second office in Washington, D.C., and invested heavily in new technologies that enable us to work even more efficiently supporting ever-more complex programs for our public- and private-sector clients both nationally and worldwide. As StratComm expands our reach with the SSA VHR program throughout the United States, we are confident that our experience, expertise, and technology will continue to serve us—and our clients and partners—extremely well.
StratComm has recently received its Contractor Performance Assessment Report (CPAR) from the U.S. government for Year 2 of our five-year contract with SSA. This CPAR indicates that we have maintained the high level of quality and service to the SSA that we have delivered from the beginning of the contract. For the second consecutive year, StratComm earned “Very Good” ratings in the key areas of Quality, Schedule, and Management.
On quality: StratComm has provided ... very good quality of service in support of SSA ODAR Disability Hearings. Very few complaints were received by the Hearing Offices regarding quality of services received. The contractor ensured all personnel were trained. The Contractor reached out to management in all hearing offices to ensure that the office specific procedures were documented correctly.
On schedule: StratComm was prompt in communicating issues to the hearing offices so that inside coverage could be arranged and hearings would not be lost. The Hearing Offices have also noted that StratComm has been very conscientious in accommodating the different needs/schedules of hearing office and remote site.
On management: StratComm has exhibited very good performance during this reporting period. Management has been extremely responsive to all requests and issues that have been brought to their attention. They are clearly committed to providing quality service to ODAR. Hearing Office personnel find that StratComm is always responsive and has made every effort to rectify problems or concerns brought to their attention.
Recommendation: Given what I know today about the StratComm's ability to perform in accordance with this contract or order's most significant requirements, I would recommend them for similar requirements in the future.
38 Years of Top-Level Customer Service
“The challenges of [this project] would be considerable for a large business; that StratComm was able to exceed USAID’s demanding requirements on such a short timeframe was a powerful testament to StratComm’s leadership, can-do attitude, and professionalism. In my four years at USAID, no contractor ever performed better on behalf of the U.S. taxpayer.”
—Douglas Dye, former USAID Contracting & Agreement Officer