Processing Capacity of the Social Security Administration's Durham Support Center
To review the plan, design, status, and data processing capacity of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Durham Support Center (DSC) focusing on SSA’s strategic planning in the acquisition of the DSC.
The DSC is a critical element in SSA’s Information Technology Operations Assurance (ITOA) initiative. ITOA was initiated in response to Agency vulnerabilities identified in a 2002 assessment of SSA’s disaster recovery plan. In 2005, SSA worked with the General Services Administration to acquire a second data center, and in January 2009, it took possession of the DSC. The DSC is a co-processing center; where routine operations will be divided between it and the National Computer Center (NCC). Each data center will have the capability to handle the Agency’s information technology (IT) workloads associated with essential functions in the event of a disaster at one of the data centers.To view the full report, visit http://www.ssa.gov/oig/ADOBEPDF/A-14-09-19100.pdf
Despite the challenges to the project, SSA appears to have successfully designed a co‑processing center that incorporates a number of Tier III level features and meets industry security standards. The Agency not only considered future processing needs of the center, such as “white space,” it designed and constructed the DSC in a manner that minimizes the likelihood that the physical concerns at the NCC will be repeated. While SSA performed some IT planning, it could have benefited had more integrated strategic planning been performed. Given the significance of the Agency’s current efforts to build a new NCC, we believe SSA should learn from its experience with the DSC and take the necessary steps to ensure proper planning to mitigate project delays and cost increases.
For future IT investments, SSA should: