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G lossary ADP--automatic data processing. Application Program--a computer program that is organized and written in terms of a specific end use or direct application of the computer system--as distinguished from a system program that augments or extends the general capabilities of the computer system and as distinguished from a utility program that provides a specific capability that is likely to be useful in many different applications. Architecture (of an information system)--in analogy with the architec- ture of a building, the organization or configuration of the system in terms of its main subsystems and components. "Architecture" usually implies relationships that are structured, but sometimes the term is used to refer to relationships that are primarily functional. Batch Processing--the periodic processing of data that has accumulated over a period of time as distinguished from real-time processing where individual transactions are presented for processing as they occur. Branch Office--a local SSA office subordinate to a district office, often open only part-time. Central Processing Unit (CPU)--the section of a computer system that performs logical, arithmetic, and control operations. A CPU also performs some storage functions, but as the term is used today, it does not include the main memory/storage parts of the computer system. Claims System--the application subsystem that determines claims entitlement for clients of the Social Security Administration system. Communications Network--a collection of communications channels, switch- ing centers, control devices, and other equipment that collectively comprises a communications capability interconnecting a number of locations. Confidentiality--the status accorded to sensitive information that characterizes a need to limit access to it without proper authorization. 44
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45 Current Process--the total process, hardware-software-human activity and procedures, through which the Social Security Administration currently delivers its services. Data Base--an organized collection of information available to one or more processing systems or to users for referencing purposes. See Record. Data Processing (by computer)--the application of computer systems and storage media to the management and manipulation of data, as distin- guished from computer applications devoted to scientific computations, interactive communications, or process control. Disk Storage--a direct access storage device that can store from a few million up to several hundred million (eight-bit) bytes of data. Information is stored magnetically on one or more rotating disks. Distributed Processing--a method of processing that uses a number of interconnected computers, separated geographically. District Office--a full-time local SSA office where the public can obtain information about Social Security benefits and file claims. Earnings System--the application subsystem that manages the recordkeep- ing related to earnings. Enumeration System--the application subsystem that assigns Social Security Numbers and keeps track of them. File--a series of units of information that are structurally similar to one another. File implies succession. See Record. Future Process--the total process--hardware, software, human activity and procedures--through which the SSA could deliver services from the mid-80's through the end of the century. Hardware--the physical equipment used in computer and/or communications systems. The computer, terminal devices, modems, and data communications circuits are considered hardware, as differentiated from software, which consists of programs and data that apply hardware to a function or task. Hierarchy--a structured array of information, categories, people, systems or other items, with graded relationships among the items. A hierarchy can usually be represented by a branching tree (or root) diagram. Horizontal Slice--a transition plan in which the several SSA services would be converted one at a time to the new process and then implement- ed individually throughout the SSA.
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46 Human Factors--the behavioral components of a work system, in this case, the SSA process. "Human factors" is used (in a plural sense) to refer to the factors relating to human performance, and (in a singular sense) to the field of study that stresses such considerations. Integrated Data Base (for SSA)--a single, unified data base containing the data necessary for all SSA processes (as distinguished from the present multiple files, each organized for a separate application). Interactive--a category of computer applications characterized by communication between a user and a computer program, with which the user interacts. The cycle time for the interaction is usually a few seconds or less. Magnetic Tape--an information storage medium that utilizes thin strips of plastic coated with a magnetic material. A tape is typically 2400 feet long and half an inch or an inch wide. Information is stored on it, typically, in rows of bits, usually eight bits (one byte) per row, with a few hundred to a few thousand bytes stored per inch along the length of the tape. Mass Storage--the storage of a very large amount of data in a single storage device, readily accessible to a central processing unit. Typical mass stores can hold from 50 billion to 5 trillion bits. Management Information System (MIS)--a system intended to provide information to the management of an organization to support planning, decision making, evaluation and monitoring, of operations. A modern MIS in a geographically distributed organization includes computer and telecommunication functions that are carefully interfaced with operation- al computer and telecommunications systems. Modeling (computer-based)--representing, in the form of computer programs and data, an abstraction of a system, organization, or process. The behavior of the representation as it runs in a computer can be studied to gain an understanding of, or to test hypotheses about, the system, organization, or process it represents. "Modeling" and "simulation" are often used as synonyms; when a distinction is made, "modeling" is usually made the broader, more general term and is used to include, for example, closed-form mathematical representation, whereas simulation is restricted to the subset of models in which, to a fairly low level of detail, parts of the model correspond directly to parts of the thing modeled. OAS--the Office of Advanced Systems. The organization within the Social Security Administration responsible for planning a future SSA process. On-Line--perta~ning to peripheral equipment under direct control of, or in communication with the central processing unit of a computer system; or pertaining to a user's ability to interact with a computer. See Real- Time.
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47 Packet Switching--a communications technique by which information is transmitted from source to destination as addressable packets of both data and control elements, through a network of high speed switches. Partitioning--the subdivision or segmentation of a system. process, or collection of information, usually to simplify development, management, operation, or maintenance. Post-Entitlement System--the application subsystem that processes information affecting the continuing entitlement of clients already authorized to receive benefits, and the amount of benefit payments to them. Privacy--(in this context) the principles that underlie the Privacy Act of 1974, including such principles as: that there are limits to the types of information that an organization may collect about an individual, and limits on the internal uses and external disclosure of that information; that individuals have a right to see and copy info~ua- tion maintained about themselves, and to correct and amend it; and that agencies of the federal government must not be secretive about their personal-data record-keeping policies, practices, and systems. Production Rule Systems--a software system in which the program is essentially a list of condition-action pairs or if-then pairs. In the simplest such system, the computer tests the condition part of the first pair and, if it is satisfied (true) carries out the corresponding action and then goes back to the starting point for another cycle. If the first condition is not satisfied (false), the computer goes to the second pair, tests its condition, and, if it is true, carries out the corresponding action and then goes back to the start. If the second condition is false, the computer goes to the third pair, and so on. In most production rule systems, most of the conditions and actions are complex. Program Service Center--a major SSA office that reviews the more complex claims, that certifies the correctness of continuous payments, and acts as the repository for claims folders. Real-Time--the actual time during which a physical process (external to a computer system) is active. Also, the natural rate of flow of time, so that "real time" can be distinguished from "fast time" (as in a speeded-up motion picture) and "slow time" (as in time-lapse photo- graphy). A real-time computer system is one that is capable of communicating with an external process without delaying that process. If the users of an interactive computer system are viewed as "external processes," and if the system supports them in their work without delaying them, the interactive system may be said to be a real-time system, but usually "real-time" is used in referring to computer systems that monitor and/or control physical or chemical, industrial or military processes. 1
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48 Record--a grouping or structuring of information, usually consisting of several elementary items or subordinate groups. Typically, all the information in a record is about a single individual, a single entity. If there are many entities, all of the same type, typically their records are stored in a sequence and referred to as a "file." Thus "record" refers to one or more intermediate levels in a hierarchy that includes "data base" at or near the top, "file" at a high level, then "record" (or sometimes "structure"), and "item", "field", or "element" at or near the bottom. Response Time--the time that elapses between giving a command to a computer system and receiving a response from it. Response time will vary depending on the transmission times, processing time, access time to obtain files, and time lost waiting for competing tasks to be accomplished. REP (Request for Proposal)--a solicitation for bids to perform work, in this case, the development and implementation of the future process. RSHDI Redesign--the Retirement, Survivors, Health, and Disability Insurance Redesign Project, a project to make improvements in the current SSA data processing system. Security--the protection of systems and information against damage or denial of use. Software--computer programs, routines, and programming languages and systems. SSA--the Social Security Administration. SSADARS--Social Security Administration Data Acquisition and Response System. This is a computer-communications system providing on-line access from some SSA district offices and program service centers to some of the records maintained in the Baltimore center. SSN--social security number. The number associated with each "enumerated" SSA client. Terminal--a device serving as an input and/or output interface with a computer, communication, or information system. Often restricted in meaning to input/output devices used by people, and sometimes restricted further to input/output devices used by people in on-line interaction. A terminal often services both input and output functions, and usually includes a keyboard and a display. The broader senses of "terminal" include optical character readers and printers as well as teletypewriters and television-like display units with associated keyboards. TEF--the Test and Evaluation Facility created by SSA to study human factors considerations pertinent to the future process.
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49 Teleservice Center--An SSA facility from which SSA personnel deal with SSA clients by telephone. Transparent (conduit)--a telecommunications path (system) that delivers . information in the same form in which it receives it. Transition--the change from one procedure, mode, or system to another. The transition referred to in this document relates specifically to the change from the current SSA process to the future one. Users--(in the future process) - SSA employees, particularly those in local offices, teleservice centers, and program service centers, who will work with the future system. Whole-Person Concept--a system design concept that would interrelate all information about each individual client. Thus, any change to information about an individual--for example, an address change--would need to be input only once in order to change all pertinent records. Vertical Slice--a term associated with two of the three transition plans considered in this report: in one all future process services would be activited in a few district offices prior to being implemented throughout the system; in the other, complete subsystems would be upgraded as a prerequisite to future process services being activated. See Figure 1 (page 19~. i 1 ~
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Representative terms from entire chapter: