Software Maintenance:

SSA's Use of Its Software Measurement Package

IMTEC-89-38: Published: Jun 15, 1989. Publicly Released: Jun 15, 1989.

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GAO reviewed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) maintenance activities for its batch computer programs supporting its Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Benefit System, focusing on how SSA used an automated software measurement package to assess and improve program quality.

GAO found that: (1) as of September 1988, measurement package results indicated that 1,992 of the 2,441 retirement system programs evaluated did not meet SSA quality standards for batch programs; (2) software evaluation identified such programming problems as poor organization and complex logic, making programs potentially difficult to understand and increasing maintenance time and cost; (3) SSA lacked specific guidance for using software evaluation results to help improve program quality, and preferred to incorporate software improvement goals into the merit pay contracts of officials responsible for the programs; (4) SSA could not determine whether all of its batch programs were being evaluated by the measurement package, since it lacked a complete inventory of its batch programs; (5) SSA programmers changed the names of batch programs during maintenance, making it difficult for the measurement program to track the same program over time; and (6) SSA plans to create a complete inventory of batch programs and establish an agencywide program naming standard will help in its continuing efforts to improve batch program maintainability and quality of its batch programs and use its measurement package efficiently.

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