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Review of a New Data Management System for the Social Security Administration A Report to the Social Security Administration Department of Health, Eclucation and Welfare by the Panel on Social Security Administration Data Management System Committee on Telecommunications-Computer Applications Assembly of Engineering National Research Council l NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES Washington, D.C. 1978
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NOTICE The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the Councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. This report represents work under Contract 600-77-0034 between the National Academy of Sciences and the Social Security Administration. Copies of this publication are available, under accession number NRC/TELECOM/78/2, from: National Technical Information Service Department of Commerce 5825 Port Royal Road Springfield, Virginia 22161 Printed in the United States of America
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Preface This report is based on a review of the planning by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to improve the data management and computer-communi- cations aspects of its social service delivery system through the rest of this century. The planning effort was described in June 1975 by the SSA's Office of Advanced systems in its "Master Plan for the Development of the Future SSA Process." The .'process" is defined as the sum total of technological, operational, and managerial factors necessary to conduct a multiplicity of social security programs. In recent years, the agency has been the subject of concern and criticism for shortcomings in the handling of claims and payments. Thus, the purpose of the projected new process is to improve the accuracy, promptness, reliability, and responsiveness of the SSA's service delivery system. The SSA's master plan calls for a six-year project involving four phases--conceptualization, requirements definition, design, and implementation. While it was engaged in designing the concept, as Phase I, the SSA asked the National Research Council to conduct a year-long assessment of the long-range plan, with a detailed review of Phase II, relating to the requirements and architecture of the new system. For its part, the National Research Council turned to its Committee on Telecommunications-Computer Applications, which organized the Panel on Social Security Administration Data Management System to carry out the assignment. Accordingly, the panel, consisting of individuals with a depth of knowledge and breadth of understanding of information, communications, and management systems, such as those involved in the SSA's new plan, began its work in December 1976. An effort was made to balance the panel members within the electronic information-communications industry, as well as among industrial, university and non-profit organizations. The panel was asked to place additional emphasis on project management and information security and confidentiality. The methodology of the panel's review for gathering knowledge and understanding of the SSA's specific problems, concepts, and priorities was appropriate to the task. Throughout the period of its review, the panel had the benefit of a close interaction with the SSA. In a series of six meetings at the SSA headquarters in Baltimore, Md., regional centers, and local (district) offices, the panel met with many officials . · ~
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of the agency. Panel members also visited SSA field offices individually or in teams to obtain first-hand impressions of the ent ire proces s . In addition, the members studied numerous SSA documents pertinent to their inquiry. Among the documents was "Recommended Design Concept for the Future SSA Process,'. prepared in April 1977 by the SSA's Office of Advanced Systems. It provides a comprehensive account of the objectives, constraints, and concepts that are critical to the design of the SSA's proposed data management system. It was clear to the panel that if the analysis and advice were to be useful, it had to be based on a thorough understanding of the purposes and procedures of the SSA, as well as on certain knowledge of the capa- bilities and resources available to the agency. In its review, the panel was careful not to overstep its bounds to evaluate the technical and operational aspects of the SSA's concept of a high performance, cost effective information processing and management system. Thus, the panel has refrained from engaging in the actual planning or designing of the proposed new system or from advising on suchtmatters as the funding or the service levels of the SSA system. While the panel has examined the SSA's operations at Baltimore and at some'regional and branch offices, it has not attempted to evaluate how efficiently or effectively the agency uses its present computer-commu- nications system. Nor has the panel reviewed the subject of equipment acquisition. At times, individual members have had strong views or special insights on such matters, but the panel's conclusions and recommendations in this report are concerned only with the management, information, and communications aspects of the SSA's data base planning effort. This report opens with a summary of the principal findings and recommendations. Chapter I consists of a brief survey of the dimensions of the problems confronting the nation's social security systems the complexity of the agency's operations, and the SSA's own evaluation of the "fixed requirements" for any new computer-communications process. In Chapter II the panel examines the various options for establishing and integrating a coherent, coordinated process. Chapter III is an evaluation of the current state of the hardware and software technologies relevant to the entire system, as well as its component parts. Chapter IV covers the significance of human factors in relation to the SSA process. Chapter V deals with the important privacy and security considerations of the new process. Chapter VI is concerned with the major issues of in-house management, contracting, and procurement of large computer-information systems, with some instruc- tive examples of Department of Defense experience. Then, in Chapter VII the panel describes several aspects of large program management, including project overview, the transition period, and maintenance and control. The panel has benefited greatly from the open, frank, and infor- mative discussions with officials and staff of the SSA. Appreciation is expressed, in particular, to James B. Cardwell, the Commissioner of the SSA at the time of this review, and Robert B. Byoum, the Associate Commissioner for the Office of Program Operations, as well iv
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as to Ray Lannon, the Director, and Renny DiPentima, the Project Officer in the SSA's Office of Advanced Systems. The panel is indebted to them and others for their guidance through the com- plexities of the nation's social security operations. Several members of the panel called upon their colleagues for contributions to this review. The panel is grateful, accordingly, to the following individuals: Richard A. Cloughley of Sperry-Univac, Kimfield Parks of the Burroughs Corporation, Richard Phelps of the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, R. L. Snowden of American Telephone and Telegraph Company, John W. White of Texas Instruments Incorporated, and Hugh B. Williams of IBM Corporation. In addition, the panel appreciates the support, throughout its study, of R. V. Mrozinski, Executive Director, Frank M. Snyder, Deputy Executive Director, and Margaret A. Smith, Administrative Secretary, of the Assembly of Engineering's Committee on Telecommunications- Computer Applications. While the panel acknowledges the valuable help of these people in the preparation of this report, the conclusions and recommendations presented here, as well as any errors, are entirely its own.
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Members, Pane! on Social Security Administration Data Management System Louis T. Rader (Chairman) Professor of Electrical Engineering and Business Administration University of Virginia J. C. R. Licklider (Deputy Chairman) Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ted E. Climis Vice President, Development, General Products Division IBM Corporation Lee L. Davenport* Vice President-Chief Scientist General Telephone & Electronics Corporation V. E. Herzfeld Vice President, Business Planning and Development Sperry-Univac Robert R. Johnson Vice President, Division of Engineering Burroughs Corporation Billy B. Oliver Vice President, Engineering Planning American Telephone & Telegraph Company Bert C. Roberts, Jr. Senior Vice President, Corporate Planning & Development MCI Telecommunications Corporation Sam K. Smith Group Vice President Texas Instruments Incorporated . *ex officio as Chairman, Committee on Teleco=;~unications-Computer Applications vii
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Robert I`. Sproull President University of Rochester Willis H. Ware Corporate Research Staf f Rand Corporation E. James Young Vice President, Management Service Department Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States Staff: R. V. Mrozinski, Staff Director Frank M. Snyder, Deputy Staff Director Margaret A. Smith, Administrative Secretary viii
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i Members, Committee on Telecommunications-Computer Applications . Lee L. Davenport (Chairman) Vice President-Chief Scientist General Telephone & Electronics Corporation Louis T. Rader (Deputy Chairman) Professor of Electrical Engineering and Business Administration University of Virginia Jack A. Baird Vice President, Customer Services American Telephone & Telegraph Company Henri G. Busignies Chief Scientist Emeritus International Telephone & Telegraph Corporation J. C. R. Licklider Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Massachusetts Institute of Technology Robert D. Maurer Manager, Special Projects, Optical Wave Technology Corning Glass Works Research and Development Laboratories Sidney Metzger Assistant Vice President and Chief Scientist Communications Satellite Corporation Lawrence G. Roberts Chairman of the Board Telenet Communications Corporation Glen O. Robinson Professor of Law University of Virginia Law School Joseph E. Rowe Provost, Case Institute of Technology Case Western Reserve University ix At. -
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Herbert Sherman Associate Director for Technology Center for the Analysis of Health Practices Harvard School of Public Health Harry M. Trebing Director, Institute of Public Utilities Michigan State University . H. Mitchell Watson, Jr. Assistant Group Executive, Marketing Group IBM Corporation Graham W. Watt President National Training and Development Service Staff: R. V. Mrozinski, Executive Director Frank M. Snyder, Deputy Executive Director Steven C. Johnson, Staff Economist Jean Cleveland, Administrative Assistant Gwynne S. Ellsworth, Administrative Secretary Margaret A. Smith, Administrative Secretary
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Contents SUMMARY CHAPTER I: THE PROPOSED SSA PROCESS 3 9 CHAPTER II: THE INTEGRATED SYSTEM 13 System Alternatives Major System Considerations System Design Methodology Transition Plan CHAPTER III: TECHNOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS Interfacing and Modeling Communications Terminals Applications Software 14 16 22 24 27 27 30 36 38 CHAPTER IV: HUMAN FACTORS 44 CHAPTER V: PRIVACY AND SECURITY ISSUES 47 CHAPTER VI: CONTRACTING ISSUES CHAPTER VII: MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS APPENDIX: COMPUTER-RELATED TECHNOLOGIES GLOSSARY 54 58 64 87