General Accounting Office, Solving Social Security Computer Problems: Solving Social Security's Computer Problems: Comprehensive Corrective Action Plan and Better Management Needed (HRD-82-19) (Dec. 10, 1981) (full-text).
Serious problems continue to plague the Social Security Administration's (SSA) automatic data processing (ADP) operations. SSA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agreed in May of 1981 that inefficient computer software, inadequate hardware capacity, and systems personnel deficiencies have created an ADP systems crisis at the agency. Major problems have combined to create an ADP environment in which the SSA ADP systems managers react to crises rather than use planned approaches for solving ADP problems.
The GAO found that the current multifaceted ADP crisis at SSA has resulted from long-standing weaknesses in agency ADP planning and management. Since 1974, the GAO has issued 32 reports discussing ADP-related planning; improper development and modification of systems and software; deficiencies in equipment acquisition and operation, including the acquisition of telecommunication resources; and the failure to provide adequate privacy protection and security components. A comprehensive, agencywide, long-term plan is an essential prerequisite to effective long-range ADP planning. SSA has not developed such a plan. Without such a plan, the ongoing efforts by SSA to develop a long-range solution to its current ADP problems are unlikely to respond adequately to its emerging long-term program and systems needs.
If properly developed and implemented, this plan should go a long way toward putting the SSA systems on the road to recovery. Developing effective plans and making them work are tasks which will require much better overall ADP planning and management than SSA has demonstrated.
The GAO also recommends that the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) should review all prior GAO recommendations for improving Social Security Administration systems and implement those still applicable. HHS should similarly review the numerous other systems studies performed at SSA and implement the recommendations as appropriate, especially those directed to solving recurring problems.