Social Security Administration:

Information Technology Challenges Facing the Commissioner

T-AIMD-98-109: Published: Mar 12, 1998. Publicly Released: Mar 12, 1998.

Additional Materials:


Joel C. Willemssen
(202) 512-6253


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the information technology challenges facing the Social Security Administration and its recently appointed commissioner.

GAO noted that: (1) SSA made significant early progress in assessing and renovating mission-critical mainframe systems--those necessary to prevent the disruption of benefits--and has been a leader among federal agencies; (2) yet as GAO's report of last October indicated, three key risks remained, mainly stemming from the large degree to which SSA interfaces with other entities in the sharing of information; (3) one major risk concerned year 2000 compliance of the 54 state Disability Determination Services (DDS) that provide vital support to the agency in administering SSA's disability programs; (4) the second major risk concerned data exchanges, ensuring that information obtained from outside sources--such as other federal agencies, state agencies, and private businesses--was not corrupted by data being passed from systems that were not year 2000 compliant; (5) SSA exchanges data with thousands of such sources; (6) third, such risks were compounded by the lack of contingency plans to ensure business continuity in the event of systems failure; (7) the resources that SSA plans to invest in acquiring Intelligent Workstation/Local Area Network (IWS/LAN) are enormous; (8) over 7 years the agency plans to spend about $1 billion during phase I to replace its present computer terminals with intelligent workstations and local area networks; (9) as of March 1, SSA had completed installation of about 30,000 IWSs and 800 LANs, generally meeting or exceeding its phase I schedule; (10) GAO has not identified any significant problems in SSA's installation of IWS/LAN equipment at its field offices to date, and the agency has taken steps to minimize adverse impact on service to the public while installation takes place; (11) at the conclusion of GAO's review, however, SSA had not established targeted goals or a process or using performance measures to asses IWS/LAN's impact in agency productivity improvements; (12) SSA has recognized weaknesses in its own capability to develop software, and is improving its processes and methods; and (13) SSA plans many initiatives using the Internet to provide electronic service delivery to its clients.

Sep 14, 2020

Sep 9, 2020

Sep 8, 2020

Aug 31, 2020

Aug 3, 2020

Jun 1, 2020

Mar 5, 2020

Feb 20, 2020

  • it icon, source: PhotoDisc

    Science & Tech Spotlight:

    GAO-20-379SP: Published: Feb 20, 2020. Publicly Released: Feb 20, 2020.

Dec 12, 2019

Looking for more? Browse all our products here