Doing Business With the Social Security Administration

Information about Social Security Administration<@VM>The CIO File: Tom Hughes


Enterprise Technology Services Contract

Value: $110 million over seven years

RFP: January 2005

Purpose: Agencywide software support services, including software design, development, testing, documentation and independent verification and validation. Lockheed Martin holds the current

Top Contracts

Enterprise Technology Services Contract

Value: $115 million

Awarded: November 1998 to Lockheed Martin

Purpose: Agencywide software support services, including software design, development, testing, documentation and independent verification and validation

Network-based Services Solution for Automated Call Distributor Replacement

Value: $100 million

Awarded: August 2000 to WorldCom

Purpose: Provide a call answering solution to handle the 75 million calls that Social Security Administration receives each year.

Program Manager Services for Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program

Value: $56 million

Awarded: September 2000 to Maximus Inc.

Purpose: Support the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program which helps Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities receive more choices for employment services and increases provider incentives to serve these individuals.

Thing to note

Social Security has one of the most thorough, easy-to-follow Web sites I've seen. Any possible question seems answerable with Web access, and information is in logical places. I found most of the info I needed for this profile quite easily. A good general consumer Web site.

Just for fun: Check out the "Most Popular Names" link (, a collection of baby names by year, decade and even by state.


Social Security Administration
6401 Security Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21235-0001
(800) 772-1213

Founded: 1935

Commissioner: Jo Anne Barnhart

Employees: More than 65,000

What it does: The Social Security Administration administers the country's major income support payments for older Americans, the disabled and their dependents. It oversees the Supplemental Security Income program for low-income aged and disabled persons. It also supports Medicare on behalf of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The agency pays about $42 billion monthly in benefits to more than 50 million people.

Major subagencies: The agency is comprised of 13 offices. Throughout the country there are 10 regional offices, six processing centers and about 1,366 field offices.

The budget

2004 budget: (estimated): $535 billion

2003 budget: (estimated): $512 billion

2002 budget: $490 billion

2001 budget: $461 billion

The Web site

For doing business with the agency, I found "Selling to SSA" on the homepage, and it took me right to the site for the Office of Acquisition and Grants ( While requests for quotes and solicitations are posted to, the site will give you all the info you need on getting the ball rolling. It even provides an agency acquisitions forecast for fiscal 2003, and a list of Freedom of Information Act reports on its contracts. Once you become an agency vendor, the online Vendor Payment Center ( can help manage your fees.

Tom Hughes

Courtesy of SSA

Official title: Chief information officer

Took the job: November 2002

Hometown: Dallas

Home now: Columbia, Md.

Hobbies: Enjoys running, and golfing as often as possible.

Currently reading: "Bush at War" by Bob Woodward

Alma mater: Bachelor of business administration in business systems analysis and design from University of Texas at Arlington, master's of business administration in finance from the University of Dallas, and master's in public administration from Harvard University.

WT: What are the IT challenges the agency faces?

Hughes: You're always trying to prioritize challenges. ... There is always the agency's vigilance toward the No. 1 issue, security. We have a culture of really trying to maintain a strong vigilance in IT security, and that will remain a top priority. No. 2 is the e-Enabled initiatives that the agency is involved with, to bring greater Web applications to the public.

WT: How has Section 508 affected the technology of the agency?

Hughes: I'm not an expert on that area, but I do know the agency has taken that very seriously. We have a lead person in that role in our systems group. We keep track of the cost, and as far as I understand, it's going along pretty well.

WT: What do you look for in companies with which you are thinking of doing business?

Hughes: When we talk about doing business, it depends on the project. When you are talking about the agency undergoing significant projects that involve a great deal of hardware or consulting services, we're looking for a strong track record and expertise in that specific area. An example might be IBM, which has a very strong business background; they are a very strong company financially, which is very important to us as an agency. We're sensitive about getting involved in detailed software engineering with small firms that might have a limited life span. And again, the track record: people that can come here with a strong point of view and with experience.

WT: A year from now, where would you like to see the agency's technology capabilities?

Hughes: The agency as a whole is focused on bringing applications to the public. So a year from now, we'll have more Web-enabled applications for the public to use, and for businesses to use. We'll make it easier and more robust.

WT: Since you have been with the agency for only three months, how does it feel?

Hughes: I think the agency is trying to blend their drive and the way they do business, and really how we can use experience out of the private sector. It's actually been very good. I would say the agency is forward thinking, and we're doing a lot of things right. I am quite pleased to see that a lot of work that we do is well-completed.

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