Social Security Administration FY 2019 IT Budget Snapshot

Posted by John Slye on April 23, 2018

The Social Security Administration has requested nearly $1.7B for information technology investments for fiscal year 2019.

In February the White House released its fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request with detailed spending plans for each Executive Branch department and agency, including the Social Security Administration (SSA). A detailed IT budget for the SSA was also made available on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) IT Dashboard.

A new budget and the year-to-year changes reflect adjusting priorities and efforts in the proposed budget. Normally, I would look at the changes from FY 2018 to FY 2019, but due to the uncertainty of the FY 2018 budget data that OMB provided (i.e. the impacts of being under multiple continuing resolutions), I chose to base the growth comparisons primarily on FY 2017.

Social Security Administration Total IT and New Development Budgets

The SSA is requesting nearly $1.7B for IT spending for FY 2019, more than $147M (-8%) below the final FY 2017 level but $53M (3%) above the estimate given for FY 2018.

Within the total $1.7B request the new SSA IT budget provides new development spending, known as Development, Modernization and Enhancement (DME), of $588M, which accounts for 35% of the total IT budget. The FY 2019 DME level is 12% below FY 2017 but would be 22% above the FY 2018 estimate, if accurate. (See table below.)

Balancing out the DME funding is nearly $1.1B in Operations and Maintenance (O&M) funding, which is a decline of $67M (5.8%) from the FY 2017 final level and $54M (5%) below the FY 2018 estimated level. O&M accounts for nearly 65% of the SSA IT budget in FY 2019, which is about the same proportion as it was in FY 2017.

Noteworthy IT Programs

The SSA continues to pursue IT modernization efforts to meet its mission objectives and support larger agency priorities. Below are the top five largest IT budget lines within SSA’s FY 2019 request.

IT funding highlights include:

  • Data Center and Cloud Standard Investment – The Data Center and Cloud standard investment provides the IT Infrastructure for SSA's data center facilities. This investment received a large $448M increase for FY 2018, up from $23.5M in FY 2017. The FY 2019 budget requests $412M, trimming the budget about $60M but still placing it $388M above FY 2017. This initiative contains almost 20% in DME funding.
  • Network Standard Investment – The Network standard investment provides data, voice, services, equipment, access arrangements, cable and wiring to manage network and telecommunications activities. At $407M for FY 2019, Network shows $391M in total growth over the FY 2017 level, most of which ($347M) came in FY 2018, if that estimate is correct. DME accounts for 22% of the FY 2019 funding request.
  • End User Standard Investment – The End User standard investment provides IT resources such as workstations, mobile devices, end user software, and helpdesk support which SSA requires to meet its workload demands. The $170M requested for FY 2019 is nearly $158M above FY 2017 but would be about $8M below the FY 2018 estimated level. DME accounts for 34% of the FY 2019 funding request.
  • IT Modernization – IT Modernization is a plan to replace SSA’s core systems with new components and platforms, engineered for maximum usability, innate interoperability, and future adaptability. It receives $132M for FY 2019, an increase of $86M (+185%) from FY 2017. This initiative is 100% DME funding.
  • IT Management – This budget line covers IT Management, Strategic Planning, Enterprise Architecture, Capital Planning, Project Management Offices, IT Budget/Finance, IT Vendor Management, 508 Compliance, General IT policy/reporting, and IT Governance. At $130M for FY 2019 IT Management sees a slight decrease of $2.8M (-2%) from FY 2017, but the FY 2019 amount would be $5.8M above the estimated FY 2018 level. This investment line is 94% O&M funding with only 6% slated for DME.

The SSA’s emphasis on O&M spending and the frequency with which “standard investment” appears in the top five IT budget lines translates into an overall softening of IT budget growth, reflecting both fiscal consciousness as well as a degree of maturity in meeting their IT goals over the last several years. Much of the modernization and transformation efforts that the agency has taken are producing efficiencies and reducing costs. After these top five investment lines, the funding for individual initiatives generally runs in the $20M and below range and these initiatives focus on maintaining SSA mission applications like claims processing and financial management.

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