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The efforts by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to redesign its retirement, survivors, disability, and health insurance automated system were reviewed. This redesign represented a major multifaceted automatic data processing system modification project undertaken to improve service to program beneficiaries.
Although substantial effort and resources were invested in this project, it was largely unsuccessful. Only one of the five major new features expected during the redesign was fully implemented successfully, and SSA suspended further efforts to complete the project as it was originally planned.
The GAO believes that inadequate planning and management of the redesign and deficiencies in the SSA systems modification process were primary reasons that the agency was unable to fully complete the redesign. Further, SSA systems modification efforts in general will not meet their objectives until these weaknesses are corrected. Specifically, SSA did not: (1) adequately involve key field office users in planning redesign changes to ensure that their needs would be met by the modified system; (2) adequately analyze costs and benefits of the redesign; and (3) provide for consistent management of the redesign.