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Outgoing IG Warns of Problems with Social Security Systems Project

2016 May 20
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by Steve Perrigo

Social Security Inspector General Patrick O’Carroll updated Congress with his ongoing concerns about the Social Security Administration’s Disability Case Processing System (DCPS) project during this week’s hearing before the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee. The topic was “Protecting Social Security from Waste, Fraud, and Abuse.”

O’Carroll, who is retiring this month, said the SSA already has spent $356 million without a viable tool that would replace all the state Disability Determination Services (DDS) systems with one unified system. Key concerns, he said, include the large scope of the project, the lack of specific deliverable dates, and when it comes to what the project will cost, “we don’t know.”

Congressional oversight is necessary to ensure the SSA stays on task with this and other technology projects, he said. One risk is that a new presidential administration could deflect attention and pressure away from IT modernization at the agency.

General information technology security is another top concern. “The keys to the castle of all information for American citizens is at SSA,” O’Carroll said. “A breach of SSA would be catastrophic in terms of the reputation of this organization.”

Lawmakers’ questioned O’Carroll about these and other concerns during the hearing. Topics included the SSA’s growing workloads and budgetary needs, Social Security trust fund alternatives, identity theft and the protection of Social Security numbers, electronic reporting of death records, and the size of fraud within the Social Security programs.

In its wake, a new hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, May 26, at 9 a.m. Eastern time on the topic, “Social Security Administration: Information Systems Review,” by the Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

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