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IT Panel Makes Recommendations for Social Security’s Tech Modernization

An 11-member IT Systems Expert Panel issued numerous recommendations to the Social Security Administration last month in a final report reviewing the agency’s IT modernization plan.

Commissioned by the Social Security Administration to advise the agency on a tech modernization worth hundreds of millions of dollars, the panel focused on the agency’s operating model, governance infrastructure, modernization strategy and customer experience efforts. The report also includes guidance for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic that began amid the panel’s study, which included 20 stakeholder interviews of representatives from state and federal agencies, advocacy groups, end-users and other experts.

“There are few agencies in government that are as important and have as large an impact on the American population as the Social Security Administration,” Alan Balutis, who led the panel, told Nextgov. Balutis is a distinguished fellow and senior director of North American Public Sector Cisco Systems’ Business Solutions Group.

“If you’re going to go through an IT modernization, you don’t have much margin for error,” Balutis said.

The recommendations have been delivered to SSA leadership, Balutis said, as well as the transition teams for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The recommendations will be discussed further during an open public meeting on Jan. 29.

The report directs SSA to “identify and include critical business lines within the operating model,” and suggests the agency examine customer journeys across its business lines. The panel calls for journey mapping all the ways in which SSA engages with Americans and examining those relationships as they pertain to modernization efforts. 

The panel further recommends a slew of government infrastructure improvements. The agency should “align agency acquisition and development” with the agency’s operating model, and clearly define “how its program management processes accommodate agile development.” The modernization plan should include “metrics against which to measure performance.” Meanwhile, the agency ought to “set a vision for the customers’ experience,” and develop a chief customer officer role. 

source: NextGov