The Social Security Administration is now the largest federal agency to make the move to voice-over IP.
By 2012, the SSA will consolidate 1,600 phone systems into a single Internet-based network.
Phil Becker, associate commissioner for SSA’s office of telecommunications and systems operations, tells the Federal Times the reason comes down to cost savings and improved call operations.
For example, inbound 800-number calls can be automatically routed to the closest Social Security field office and to the first available specialist. If staff is backed up, the network will then route the call to another local office.
The consolidation also allows for easy collection of data on call volume, wait times, peak times and nature of the calls.
There are a few hangups however. Data networks have to be improved to handle call volume and reduce downtime to less than one hour a year.