Information Technology:

Social Security Administration's Systems Modernization Plan

T-IMTEC-89-11: Published: Sep 28, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 1989.

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GAO discussed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) efforts to modernize its information systems. GAO found that: (1) SSA spent about $643 million between 1982 and 1988 to maintain and modernize its systems, and planned to spend an additional $381 million over the next 2 years; (2) the SSA Systems Modernization Plan emphasized software improvements, rather than its past approaches of buying more hardware and adding more people, to achieve its goals; (3) although SSA made progress by redesigning portions of its software, acquiring more equipment, expanding its telecommunications network, and improving database access, it did not achieve all of its goals; (4) in 1987, SSA began to refocus and narrow the scope of its modernization to concentrate on software redesign and database integration activities; (5) SSA also began to develop a strategic plan to provide overall guidance for all organizational activities that included a planning framework and outlined customer service delivery goals for the year 2000 and beyond; (6) most SSA accomplishments resulted in new computer capacity that allowed faster information collection and processing, rather than software improvements SSA planned; (7) improvements in data collection activities and installation of new terminals significantly reduced paper work, processing steps, transaction times, and follow-up contacts; (8) although SSA made progress in modernizing its existing systems to support its traditional customer delivery methods, it needed to continue its efforts to develop methods for service delivery that would accommodate social changes and technological advances.

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