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International Social Security Association: Defining good governance in social security


Founded in 1927, the International Social Security Association (ISSA) has a vision of dynamic social security systems that are accessible, sustainable, adequate, socially inclusive and economically productive, and that are based on performing, well-governed, proactive and innovative social security institutions.

To help social security organizations worldwide to move closer to this vision, the ISSA Good Governance Guidelines for Social Security Institutions were launched in December 2010. Accenture worked with the ISSA on a subsequent version to expand the scope of the Guidelines to other areas of social security administration.


The debt crisis, new mandates and rising caseloads have compelled social security agencies to rethink and revisit current models. The ISSA enables knowledge sharing and provides expert advice, practical guidelines and other tools to help its members worldwide to prepare for and face such challenges.

Sound governance and management are integral to ensuring longevity and high performance in social security. To help its member organizations along this journey, the ISSA is implementing in the 2011-2013 triennium a project called “Promoting good governance in social security,” which aims to expand the scope of the Guidelines to four more areas in social security administration. Accenture is working with the ISSA as a trusted strategic advisor in this project.


Accenture collaborated with the ISSA to develop guidelines and suggest governance structures and mechanisms to achieve high performance in the following four areas:

1.  Strategic planning
2.  Operational risk management
3.  Internal audit of operations
4.  Human resource policies: Development, retention and succession

For each area, the guidelines are supported with suggested governance structures and mechanisms to facilitate their application and steer the organization toward good governance. For example, in the area of human resource policies, the guidelines suggest actions such as exploring talent management, succession planning as well as leadership development.

These are approaches often employed in the private sector, but have not been fully adopted in the public sector. Good practice case studies from ISSA member organizations illustrate selected guidelines.

Accenture also worked with the ISSA to develop a self-assessment tool that organizations can use to assess their current practices in the four areas. The guidelines, good practices and self-assessment tool are wide ranging and intended to apply to all social security organizations.


The ISSA Good Governance Guidelines for Social Security Institutions will support the capacity building efforts of social security organizations to achieve the vision of dynamic social security. The guidelines can be used to define and enhance processes in a holistic and integrated way to achieve high performance.

In an era of fiscal instability in social security systems all over the world, the Guidelines will help social security organizations to prepare for the challenges and risks of tomorrow, and work more efficiently to manage the uncertainty of today.

The ISSA Good Governance Guidelines for Social Security Institutions will be accessible to all member organizations through the ISSA website, and will link to the ISSA Good Practice database.