Social Security Spent $300M on Computer 'Boondoggle'

Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 03:07 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The Social Security Administration has spent nearly $300 million over six years on a new computer system that is riddled with glitches, according to Fox News, citing a report by the agency.

The system, which was meant to replace an outdated computer network, was given the go-ahead in 2008 to speed up the overwhelming number of disability claims it was processing.

The report by McKinsey and Co., a management consulting firm, says that as of 2013 the project was two to three years from being completed, even though in 2008 Social Security had expected the system to be finished by around 2011.

The House Oversight Committee is now investigating, with its chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, along with two GOP colleagues, Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and James Lankford of Oklahoma, sending a request to Social Security for all documents pertaining to the "IT boondoggle" since March.

"The DCPS project is adrift, the scope of the project is ambiguous, the project has been poorly executed, and the project's development lacks leadership," they said in their letter to the department.

The computer project is currently still undergoing testing, and the agency is unwilling to give a completion date or reveal how much it will cost overall, Fox News reported.

The problems have resulted in even more extensive delays in claim processing, which ironically were meant to be fixed by the new system.

"The program has invested $288 million over six years, delivered limited functionality, and faced schedule delays, as well as increasing stakeholder concerns," the report said.

The glitchy project, called the Disability Case Processing System, should have replaced 54 outmoded computer systems and allowed employees nationwide to process claims and keep track of benefits. But as of April, the system was still unable to process all new claims or track them as they passed through the system.

Social Security hired McKinsey to find out where the problems were, and the consulting firm discovered a massive technology initiative with not one person responsible for completing the project, Fox News said. The McKinsey report was issued in June, but was not publicly released.

Following a recommendation in the report, acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin appointed Terrie Gruber to oversee the project last month.

"We are absolutely committed to deliver this initiative and by implementing the recommendations we obtained independently, we think we have a very good prospect on doing just that," Gruber said.

More than 10 million disabled workers, their wives, and children receive Social Security disability benefits, a 45 percent increase from a decade ago. The average monthly benefit for a disabled worker is $1,146, Fox News said.

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