U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, today announced a hearing on the State of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Information Technology. The hearing will take place on Wednesday, May 9, 2012, in B-318 Rayburn House Office Building, beginning at 2:00 p.m.
In view of the limited time available to hear witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Subcommittee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.
Information technology (IT) is critical to the SSA’s ability to serve the public. According to the SSA, in fiscal year 2011, the agency’s IT system supported the payment of more than $770 billion in benefits to 60 million people and the maintenance of hundreds of millions of Social Security numbers and related earnings records for nearly every American. The SSA’s computers also house the electronic medical records of millions who have filed disability claims and exchange over a billion data files annually among the SSA, Federal, State, and local government agencies and businesses in order to administer Social Security benefits and other programs.
As of January 2011, the SSA had 22 internet-based electronic services available to the public. In Fiscal Year 2011, Social Security processed 15 million personalized online transactions, including 41 percent of retirement claims and 33 percent of disability claims. Based on the American Customer Satisfaction Index scores, the SSA has the three highest-rated online services in all of the Federal Government. According to the SSA, IT investments have helped increase the agency’s productivity by four percent in each of the last five years.
To deliver services, Social Security relies on a complex and large IT system, including sensitive data bases, hundreds of software applications, large computer platforms and thousands of networked computers, printers, phones and other devices. The information technology is used by nearly 80,000 employees at the SSA and the state Disability Determination Services.
Until January 2009, the SSA ran its nationwide computer operations from its 30-year old National Computer Center (NCC). Since then, a second state-of-the-art support center now runs approximately 35 percent of all its workloads. In February 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $500 million for the SSA to cover the cost of building a replacement facility for the NCC and part of the cost of equipping it. After a land acquisition and contractor bidding process that took longer than was initially projected in 2009, the current projected date for complete commissioning of the new facility is February 2015, slightly over one year behind the original schedule. However, the project is currently projected to come in significantly under budget, due to a lower-than-expected construction contract.
Since 2007, reports by various oversight and advisory groups, including the National Research Council, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the SSA Office of the Inspector General and the bipartisan Social Security Advisory Board have called for the SSA to establish a strategic vision for its information technology investments and develop a long-term plan to improve customer service. The Future Systems Technology Advisory Panel, a panel of public and private sector industry experts established by Commissioner Astrue in 2008 to provide independent systems technology advice, also recommended developing a “comprehensive, agency-wide strategic systems development roadmap.” In April 2011, Chairman Johnson requested a report from the GAO to examine the current state of SSA’s modernization efforts and its plans for the future, which will be released at the hearing.
In announcing the hearing, Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) said, “Americans of all ages are increasingly using technology for their everyday needs – from paying their bills to buying their groceries. Rapid technological innovation defines the times we live in. Social Security’s ability to serve an increasingly tech-savvy public depends on its ability to develop a modernized long-term service delivery plan with the right investments of today.”
FOCUS OF THE HEARING
The hearing will focus on the state of SSA’s IT system and the challenges it faces, IT modernization efforts to date and the return on these investments, IT management structure, and the effectiveness of the SSA’s IT strategic planning for IT investment and measures to track progress.
DETAILS FOR SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS:
Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms. From the Committee homepage, http://waysandmeans.house.gov, select “Hearings.” Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, “Click here to provide a submission for the record.” Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information. ATTACH your submission as a Word or WordPerfect document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by the close of business on Wednesday, May 23, 2012. Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings. For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-1721 or (202) 225-3625.
The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record. As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee. The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines. Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below. Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
1. All submissions and supplementary materials must be provided in Word or WordPerfect format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages, including attachments. Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.
2. Copies of whole documents submitted as exhibit material will not be accepted for printing. Instead, exhibit material should be referenced and quoted or paraphrased. All exhibit material not meeting these specifications will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
3. All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears. A supplemental sheet must accompany each submission listing the name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness.
The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested). Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.
Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available on the World Wide Web at http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov/