SSA e-gov gets high marks

The Bush administration has requested $688 million for information technology at the Social Security Administration in fiscal 2003 — an amount that represents 8 percent of the funding proposed for SSA's administrative expenses.

The proposed IT funds will help SSA "maintain its existing technology infrastructure as well as expand its Internet services, improve security capabilities, support electronic wage reporting by employers, and make a variety of other improvements," according to budget documents supplied by the Office of Management and Budget.

IT projects are included in SSA's Limitation on Administrative Expenses account, which accounts for less than 2 percent of the $512 billion requested overall for the agency in fiscal 2003.

SSA received one of the best evaluations on the score cards for the President's Management Agenda included with each agency's funding request. The score card gave high marks to the agency for its efforts to expand online customer services.

"However, SSA remains a paper-driven agency. Only 3.5 percent of retirement claims are handled over the Internet at this time, and other online services also experience low utilization rates," the OMB documents noted.

Under the fiscal 2003 budget, SSA "intends to expand electronic service delivery by adding new services to [its] Web site, such as applying for additional types of Social Security benefits and allowing [Supplemental Security Income] recipients to verify their benefit amount," according to the OMB document. SSA also is "placing a priority on a project which allows employees to share an electronic folder in a secure environment to review disability beneficiaries' files."

An SSA spokeswoman declined to comment on the agency's proposed budget.

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