After 6 Years and $300M, Social Security IT Project Still Doesn’t Work

acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin

acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin Charles Dharapak/AP File Photo

Republican lawmakers want to know why the project has gone over-budget and behind schedule.

Just how troubled is the Social Security Administration information-technology project now under congressional scrutiny? The agency spent $300 million and six years developing the new case-processing system and users are still unable to submit information by hitting the "Enter" key. 

Republican lawmakers say they are investigating SSA’s management of the Disability Case Processing System. The new program was supposed to replace 54 outdated computer systems in state offices, creating a single system to process and track claims, benefits, rejections and appeals, according to The Associated Press, which first reported the story.

But a recent report by McKinsey & Company, a consulting firm SSA hired to assess the project, said the project has been between two and three years away from completion for the past five years. The system is currently being tested and the agency can’t say when it will be complete, AP reported.

In a letter to Carolyn Colvin, the agency's acting commissioner who has been nominated to a full six-year term by President Barack Obama, Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, requested documents and information about the program. Republican Reps. Darrell Issa of California, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Jim Jordan of Ohio said the project suffered an ambiguous scope, was poorly executed and lacked management.

“While the committee supports modernizing antiquated technology, the DCPS project is costly and years behind schedule,” the lawmakers said in the letter.