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How the SSA can make the best use of its stimulus dollars

Part of the economic stimulus package will go towards modernization efforts at the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Officials expect that the money will be used in efforts to reduce the massive claims backlog at the administration and cut down on the red tape and delays experienced by people desperately trying to secure benefits payments.


A large chunk of money – $500 million – will be spent on replacing the SSA’s 30 year old National Computer Center in Baltimore, MD.  To make the data center a success, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) has some advice for the SSA.


According to GAO, the success of the modernization effort will depend on how well SSA manages the massive project, from inception to delivery.  Advice from the GAO includes:

  • Describe the SSA’s goals for the modernization effort up front.
  • Spell out the strategies that will be used to achieve the SSA’s desired results.
  • Establish performance measures to ensure expectations are being met.
  • Develop and use an agency-wide IT architecture or overall blueprint to guide work at the new data center.
  • Implement strong information-security management policies to protect sensitive information


Building a new data center to store the massive amount of data at SSA is an enormous undertaking, and to succeed SSA needs to focus on coordination, architecture, integration, and security.