IG questions SSA's data center siting process

New data center must be located within 40 miles of current center

The Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General has found several weaknesses in the process SSA used to choose a location for its new data center near Baltimore, Md., a new report says.

In general, SSA has developed a “highly sophisticated set of selection criteria” to use to evaluate prospective sites, but there are some unresolved concerns about the process, states a summary of the April 12 report from SSA's inspector general. The report was distributed on a limited basis due to federal procurement sensitivity, and only a summary was published for the public.

SSA has not fully explained its criteria for narrowing the list of choices and it may have excluded some communities that should have been included, the IG wrote.


Related story: 

GAO offers advice as SSA prepares to replace its aging data center


“Questions remain concerning SSA's process employed in narrowing the site properties down to a short list,” the report said. “In addition, the initial mandatory selection criteria applied to the geographic regions under consideration may have excluded too many locales.”

Specifically, there was little information given about the effects of electric power costs and telecommunications, the report said.

Consequently, the IG made 25 recommendations for improvement, and the SSA accepted 22 of the 25 recommendations.

The economic stimulus law provided $500 million to help replace the SSA’s National Computer Center, currently in Woodlawn, Md., outside Baltimore. The center's' total cost is approximately $800 million.

The IG's office contracted with Strategic e-Business Solutions Inc. and a subcontractor, Fortress International Group, to help with the review.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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