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Government The Almighty Buck IT

Social Security Administration Joins Other Agencies With $300M "IT Boondoggle" 144

alphadogg (971356) writes with news that the SSA has joined the long list of federal agencies with giant failed IT projects. From the article: "Six years ago the Social Security Administration embarked on an aggressive plan to replace outdated computer systems overwhelmed by a growing flood of disability claims. Nearly $300 million later, the new system is nowhere near ready and agency officials are struggling to salvage a project racked by delays and mismanagement, according to an internal report commissioned by the agency. In 2008, Social Security said the project was about two to three years from completion. Five years later, it was still two to three years from being done, according to the report by McKinsey and Co., a management consulting firm. Today, with the project still in the testing phase, the agency can't say when it will be completed or how much it will cost.
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Social Security Administration Joins Other Agencies With $300M "IT Boondoggle"

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  • by NaCh0 ( 6124 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @02:27PM (#47524093)

    Until the vendors who are building this system get their company name in the headlines, the status quo will continue.

  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @02:35PM (#47524135) Journal

    How man of us have either seen commercials or heard about lawyers colluding with doctors to get people to claim "disability" with the SSA even when they have nothing wrong with them?

    This is definitely one of those programs which needs heavy monitoring to weed out waste and fraud, along with military procurement.

    True story along the same lines. My dad had to appear in court regarding a disability (non SSA) claim one of the company employees claimed they had and why they couldn't come back to work.

    During testimony, a video was shown of this person, who claimed they injured their back, lifting bags of cement over his shoulder and climbing up a ladder to do work. Obviously his claims were rejected and he was fired, but I'm sure we can find thousands of people on SSA "disability" who are doing the same thing.

  • by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @02:37PM (#47524165)
    The contractor is Lockheed Martin, which is why it is not in the headlines.
    Any time you ask them a question you get: "Well sorry, the reason it is late is classified." It is their typical scapegoat, so nobody even bothers asking them questions anymore.
    "We have an excuse, we only work with the government, we didn't realize it actually had to work... we just thought we had to grease the right palms...Also we need more H1Bs please."
  • by jcochran ( 309950 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @03:18PM (#47524459)

    Oh good god...

    I was a LM employee a few years back. Brought in on a project that was failing. And the main issue with the failure was their process.
    For instance, LM was using Common Criteria and they were trying to get the system to EAL4. And frankly, getting there is quite doable. Unfortunately, management and the customers for the project didn't bother to actually understand anything about requirements.

    For instance, in Common Criteria, your need to tailor the documents. An example would be this template being tailored to the system requirement:
    FPT_FLS.1.1 The TSF shall preserve a secure state when the following types of
    failures occur: [assignment: list of types of failures in the TSF].

    The above template is obviously intended to be tailored to include a list of possible or predictable failures upon which the system will still remain secure. But this is how LM tailored that little beauty:
    FPT_FLS.1.1 The TSF shall preserve a secure state upon a partial system failure.

    Notice how the tailoring totally removed anything concrete about the requirement? What kind of partial failure? How do you test it? When is it violated? etc, etc, etc, ad nasium.

    And that kind of bullshit "tailoring" was done EVERYWHERE. There would be multi-hour meetings just change, tailor, and interpret specifications tailored that way. And any suggestion by anyone working in the trenches stating that the requirements were badly done and needed to be redone properly in order to actually get a functional system was met by "We can't do that, it would be too costly."

    If the above paradigm was used on the Social Security project, I can definitely see why progress has been snail slow and over budget. They're most likely still attempting to get their specifications correct.

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