The United States Social Security Agency (SAA) is no stranger to big problems, especially lately as the agency tries to keep up with less money going into the government's social security program than is going out. Now the SSA has a new issue to deal with, this time related to its National Computer Center, which officials say is on the verge of disaster.
The SSA data center has a host of problems that include tangled cables underneath the data center floor, an outdated HVAC system, clogged pipes and an antiquated uninterruptible power system. In fact, at a recent joint oversight committee hearing entitled 'Managing Costs and Mitigating Delays in the Building of the Social Security's New National Computer Center,' Kelly Croft, SSA deputy commissioner for systems, says that the data center is near collapse.
According to Croft, the 1970s infrastructure is at the root of most of the data center's problems and she says that even a day-long service outage would cause a major disruption to customers and cost approximately $25 million in lost agency productivity.
Although a new data center is scheduled to be up and running by August 2016 and will be able to handle and store about 500,000 electronic records that determine citizen benefits, officials fear that the existing data center, located in Baltimore, may not survive an additional five years.
In 2008, a study found that the aging facility has significant electrical and mechanical challenges, including several points of failure, which would result in a shutdown of the entire center.
To ensure that one of the government's most important data centers can remain operational until the current project is completed, improvements are currently being made.