Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tell your Congressman, don't cut Social Security IT upgrade funding

Originally published 3/18/11 on lubbockonline.com/glasshouses


Anyone who has read my comments on "Lubbock Left" and "Mr. Conservative" knows I am not a huge supporter of Social Security. But just because I don't think it's Uncle Sam's job to take care of me and mine doesn't mean I'm oblivious to the reality of the situation. And that reality is that our Social Security system is residing in a data center that is decades old with a backup system that may or may not work, and will take five days to bring online even if it does.

I read about the problem in the print edition of Information Week for March 14, 2011. But the article by J. Nicholas Hoover is available online. The gist is that the data center is extremely old with inadequate heating and cooling, poor power with inadequate backup power and an unreliable backup of data and processing. The software is badly outdated and not up to the needs of a modern enterprise.

The plans and financing are in place - but the money may dry up:

Most of the funding for the new data center will come from $500 million made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. However, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives' revised budget for the rest of fiscal 2011 would cut $120 million of that stimulus funding. If that happens, one of the first things to go could be $100 million in software and system upgrades planned for the new data center.

Millions of people rely on the Social Security system for money to survive. The system is one lightning strike from disaster. Or one mouse shorting a circuit. If the primary system goes down the backup could take 5 days to bring online. In five days people could - probably will - die. I may not think much of Social Security, but the system is in place, and we have to make sure it doesn't fail. For too many people it's their only safety net. Write your congressman not to cut any of the funding for the Social Security data center upgrade.