In 2008, the Social Security Administration decided to embark on a rather ambitious project in recognition of the fact that it was fighting a losing battle against the deluge of disability claims.
Here, the project was not to hire more workers or streamline the review process, but rather to create and implement a new computer system specifically designed to expedite the processing and management of disability claims.
While the idea was sound in theory, it has proven to be unsound in its execution. Besieged by delays and mismanagements, its price tag has now run close to $300 million and its operating capabilities have only reached the testing phase.
Not surprisingly, this reality, as outlined in a report commissioned by the SSA this past summer, drew strong criticism from federal lawmakers, including members of the Senate Finance Committee.
In fact, the outrage over this state of affairs has recently grown so strong that earlier this week, all 11 GOP senators on the committee sent a letter to acting commissioner Carolyn Colvin indicating that they will work to block her nomination to lead the SSA until such time as the investigation into the computer project has been completed.
"[I]t is essential to address your role with respect to this inquiry before each of us can make an informed decision on how to vote for your nomination once it reaches the full Senate for consideration," read the letter.
Colvin previously served as deputy commissioner for three-and-a-half years and has been serving as acting commissioner since Feb. 2013. Back in June, she was nominated to a six-year term by President Obama.
In response, an SSA official pledged continued cooperation by Colvin and reaffirmed that she was not at the center of any criminal investigation.
As for the computer system, it remains unclear when, if ever, it will go online. In the meantime, those people who have filed disability claims will likely continue to face long delays, a subject we've previously discussed on our blog.
Stay tuned for updates on this important story ...
Source: The Washington Post, "Republican senators say they'll block Obama's choice to lead Social Security," Stephen Ohlemacher, Dec. 3, 2014