SSA vows to go slow with online apps

SSA vows to go slow with online apps

By Thomas R. Temin

GCN Staff

FEB. 14—Burned the first time, cautious the second. That might be the motto for the Social Security Administration's online service efforts.

William Gray, SSA's assistant deputy commissioner for systems, said Monday that the agency is going slowly in deploying services electronically, having been bitten by a privacy controversy several years ago over a Web application.

"We do more usability testing, more public vetting" of applications, he said. Plus, the agency now commits only to pilot rollouts in limited geographic areas before deciding whether an application can go national.

Still, Gray said, SSA has a goal of offering 60 percent of its services online by 2004.

Speaking at the monthly GCN Information Technology Forum in Washington, Gray said that without robust user authentication tools, people applying for benefits online must have direct deposit and at least a one-time, in-person identity verification.

But, Gray added, the agency would soon start testing biometric authentication, starting with employees using SSA's virtual private network.

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