Supplemental Security Income Computerized System Development Process

HRD-80-5: Published: Oct 16, 1979. Publicly Released: Oct 16, 1979.

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) needs to develop a structured and planned approach for managing and controlling the design, development, and modification of its Supplemental Security Income (SSI) computerized system. The system is used to help maintain beneficiary information and administer benefit payments to over 4 million needy aged, blind, and disabled individuals. Erroneous payments have occurred because of control weaknesses.

The computer program and system documentation have not been properly developed and maintained. System modifications are placed into normal operating environment without being adequately validated. Field office users' needs are not always met. Futhermore, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) Audit Agency review and participation are needed to help ensure that adequate automated controls and audit trails are designed into SSA computerized systems. These weaknesses can be overcome by implementing a structured, management-controlled approach to the system design, development, and modification process.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of HEW should direct the Commissioner of SSA to: establish a system development life cycle technique which divides the automatic data processing system into distinct phases so that management can review the process at appropriate decision points; use existing program and system documentation standards and procedures provided by the National Bureau of Standards; provide management support to ensure that the systems validation group has enough staff to thoroughly perform the system validation function; and establish control procedures for the validations group so that they can have an effective means for controlling program and system modifications. The Secretary should also direct the Inspector General to have the Audit Agency: expand its efforts to include the review of automated system controls; and actively participate in reviewing the system design, development, and modification process.

    Agency Affected:


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