SSA continues to face daunting IT challenges

Tuesday - 12/28/2010, 6:00am EST

The Social Security Administration continues to face several IT management challenges -- none bigger than its move to a new data center.

An audit from SSA's Inspector General Patrick O'Carroll Jr. says the timing of the transition from the existing data center to a new center has become a problem.

"SSA estimates that by 2012, [its National Computer Center] as a stand-alone data center will no longer be able to support this expanding environment," the report states.

"Additionally, significant structural problems and electrical capacity issues have developed that now make construction of a new primary computer center imperative; however, the agency has projected that this new facility cannot be operational before 2015."

Another IT management challenge is fixing the administration's VoIP system. Federal Computer Week reports SSA's call volume has grown from 58 million in 2008, to 68 million in 2010.

The agency has adopted VOIP telephone systems to integrate its networks and provide faster call routing, but the field offices have had problems with VoIP services.

"We encountered long wait times, disconnected or dropped calls, poor sound quality, and difficulty when navigating the telephone menu tree," the audit states. "If our experiences are representative of VOIP functionality, this raises concerns about the level of customer service provided to individuals calling SSA's field offices."

The IG identified six other major management and performance priorities for fiscal 2011.