How did SSA get an A+??? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Representative Horn recently passed out his latest report card (a quarterly event in which he 'grades' the Y2k compliance efforts of the major government agencies). He gave the overall efforts of the government an F, but he gave the Social Security Agency an A+.

The two bits of information I had seen concerning the SSA were the following:

1. That they started in 1989, had 34 million lines of code to check, and that by 1997 they had completed only 6 million of them.

2. That in late 1997, they 'discovered' an additional 33 million lines of code run by the State DDS (Disability Determination Services) Centers, bringing their total to 67 million lines of code.

Now I hear that they are reporting themselves to be 70% complete. If you work the math, 70% of 67 million is about 48 million lines of code. Based on item #1, this number implies that the SSA has examined, fixed and tested 42 million lines in the past year - after taking 8 years to do the first 6 million.

Something about this does not seem right to me - is someone cooking the books? Did they manage to 're-lose' the DDS code? What's up?

For that matter, how real is Rep. Horn's report card?

-- Ed Perrault (, July 07, 1998


I agree, a lot of math does not add up. There was a newspaper article stating that the size of the potential faulty embedded chips was like 25,000,000, when the math was added it should have read 250,000,000. If the SSA got an A then how bad were those folks who got an F?

-- Rick Reilly (, July 08, 1998.

Here is a simple answer to your questions: OUR GOVERNMENT IS COMPRISED OF LYING SCUMBAGS!

-- Annie (, July 08, 1998.

Come on, Annie, don't you know that Horn grades on a curve? There has to be one shining light, to be held up as an example, regardless of how poorly we regard it.

[What does that say about those agencies that got a D or F?]

BTW, SSA just passed the responsibility for the 33 million lines of DDS code on to the states. That 70% *is* 70% of the initial 30+ million, e.g. about 22 million. Let's see.......remember the old 90/10 rule of program development?

You get 90% of the work done in the first 10% of the time it will really take, then spend the remaining 90% getting the last 10% done.

At that rate, SSA should finish some time about 2010.

-- Rocky Knolls (, July 08, 1998.

OK, Rocky...sorry I lost my temper! They are lying dirtballs! :)

-- Annie (, July 08, 1998.

There is, of course, the possibility that they discovered that a large chunk of the code they had to examine was not date sensitive, and therefore needed no remidiation. There are a growing number of tools on the market that can help make such determinations. The net result would be, if you used the "lines of code" metric as your guide, that they now really were 70% complete in that 70% of the total lines of code had either been fixed or determined to not require fixing. Of course, this says nothing about the number or complexity of the remaining problems, which is why lines of code is a poor metric to use for much of anything outside of a typing test.

Of course, somebody could just be playing with the numbers. Beaurucrats are traditionally pretty good at that.

-- Paul Neuhardt (, July 08, 1998.

Social Security can get all the A+ grades available; it doesn't matter! My understanding is that The Office of Financial Management (or whatever its title) is the place where SS checks are cut, then mailed out, or transfered to bank accounts electronically...and they are NOT anywhere near to being ready. As a great granny, who survives, mainly, on the SS check, I could be really depressed about that! But, first, I am a woman of strong faith; I am using savings to stock up; I'm trying to inform others (so far, most don't want to accept it and contribute my concern to senility). Since the Fed. Gov's fiscal year begins on the first of October, I am not expecting to receive my usual SS bank deposit, starting that month, nor will the others in this 165-apartment HUD complex I call "home." Will the owners then evict us? Will the same happen in the other senior residences all over the US? What a picture! Millions of seniors becoming bagmen and bagladies! Empty senior residences being vandalized, becoming rat-infested. But remember, I said I'm a woman of faith! It's gonna be tough; but I'm gonna make it!

-- Holly Allen (, July 08, 1998.

Holly, you are right about where the SS checks are printed! I heard Senator Bennett talking about that a few weeks ago. Hope to heaven you don't lose that check. I'm not a great granny yet and people still think I'm senile regarding Y2K. Good luck!

-- Annie (, July 08, 1998.

Holly, the SSA is expected to attain the ability to write its own checks within the coming months as their house is in order. The same cannot be said for the Treasury Department, much to the chagrin of people who rely on other types of government checks. Tell Granny to relax.(Now, if she can just find a compliant bank, she'll be ok) Also, the SSA, you might have noticed, is about to require all recipients of checks to have a bank account for direct depositing of checks. No account, no money. This raises an eyebrow with me, to tell you the truth. I am not a conspiratorialist by nature, but this move smells bad.

-- Professor K (, July 08, 1998.

EP>That they started in 1989, had 34 million lines of code to check, and that by 1997 they had completed only 6 million of them.<

Something to keep in mind when evaluating Y2K progress on _any_ organization's code, whether SSA or anyone else, is that generally the first part will be slower than the last part. After all, when they're working on the first part, they're still learning. It's reasonable to expect that progress measured by lines of code per year will naturally accelerate through the project as the people involved gain experience and become more efficient.

I'm not saying SSA deserved the A+. I'm just saying keep this acceleration factor in mind.

-- Richard Woods (, July 13, 1998.

You are right about the acceleration factor.

Experience, the development of more effective remediation tools, and the addition of staff would all tend to speed things up significantly. It also is likely that the first 5 or 6 years were spent reviewing and planning and that the actual remediation work was limited to code which had reached (or was about to reach), its "date horizon" - i.e. the moment when a particular program first encounters a date which would cause a problem. I still don't believe they deserve an A+.

I was a bit disingenuous when I posted this question. I was interested in seeing if anyone would come back with real numbers or inside information - but I was more interested in seeing how people feel about the veracity of the self-reported statistics that Rep. Horn is using to determine his grades.

I think Annie's initial response says it all. I don't believe that they necessarily are intentional "Lying Scumbags", but I think the habits of concealing information and slanting statistics are so deeply ingrained that they do it without thinking about it.

Rocky's comment about grading on a curve is interesting and (I think) accurate - even if that's not what Rep. Horn intends. I think his report card should be viewed as a snapshot of the relative progress of the government agencies in relation to each other, not as an absolute indicator of who will finish in time and who will not.

-- Ed Perrault (, July 13, 1998.

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