Larson Opening Statement at Social Security Subcommittee Hearing on the State of Social Security’s Information Technology
(As prepared for delivery)
Today’s hearing is focused on the Social Security Administration’s information technology (IT) systems and the major, multi-year initiative to modernize them.
Let me start by acknowledging this will likely be the last hearing led by my good friend who is retiring, Chairman Sam Johnson. I’ll touch more on this at the end of my remarks, but it has truly been an honor to serve alongside of you in Congress, on the Ways and Means Committee, and on this Subcommittee.
With that, today’s hearing is about the Social Security Administration modernizing their IT systems – and I’d like to highlight a few important points:
- IT is critical for the agency to successfully administer its programs, serve the public, and operate efficiently amid constrained budgets and greater needs.
- There is a recognition that the Social Security Administration can no longer build on and patch its decades-old systems, which are increasingly outdated, inefficient, and expensive to maintain.
- Managing the transformation of the agency’s IT also requires continuity of leadership at the Social Security Administration. And I am glad to see that Social Security is in good hands in that regard with Deputy Commissioner and Chief Information Officer Mathur.
- Congress must continue supporting Social Security’s IT modernization by providing sufficient resources.
It is my hope that we can learn more today about what IT modernization will bring to the Social Security Administration and how it will improve service for beneficiaries who have earned their benefits through a lifetime of work.
I also want to mention the new law to combat synthetic identity theft. The Social Security Administration is building a new system so that banks can verify Social Security numbers, with the consent of the consumer. We need a good verification system that functions efficiently for the Social Security Administration and the financial industry, but at the same time we need to make sure that sensitive personal data is protected. The Social Security Administration has a strong track record on protecting its IT systems and the millions of sensitive records it stores on all of us. We expect the agency to maintain that tradition of security and privacy as it builds this new system.
And with that, Mr. Chairman, I want to say how proud I am of our work together to pass bipartisan and much-needed legislation to strengthen and improve the representative payee program for our most vulnerable beneficiaries – including children, people with disabilities, and seniors suffering from dementia. Chairman Johnson has always been an honest broker who has placed the interests of the nation above all else. So, it is a fitting recognition that this room is named in honor of Chairman Johnson. I again recognize your distinguished service to the state of Texas, the United States Congress, and the country as a true American hero. Thank you.