This week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee met to discuss information security within the Social Security Administration. In addition, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) saw one key bill gain new cosponsors.
Oversight Committee Discusses Security at SSA
On Thursday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee met to discuss information security within the Social Security Administration (SSA). Lawmakers on the committee heard from four expert witnesses: Carolyn Colvin (SSA’s Acting Administrator), Robert Klopp (SSA’s Deputy Commissioner), Marti Eckert (SSA’s Associate Commissioner), and Gale Stallworth Stone (SSA’s Deputy Inspector General).
In his opening statement, Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (UT-3) said, “The volume of data is truly mind-boggling at this organization. In short, the Social Security Administration stores the sensitive and personal identifiable information of virtually every American living and deceased. The Social Security Administration processes an average daily volume of nearly 150 million transactions.” He continued, saying, “This makes … the Social Security Administration a frontline target in the information age.”
At Thursday’s hearing, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seemed very concerned about the administration’s cyber security challenges. On the Committee’s Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scorecard this year, SSA received a mediocre grade of a “C”. Chairman Chaffetz (UT-3) said his major concern is not whether adversaries will hack into the administration’s network, but whether they will be found before they do serious damage.
Rep. John Duncan, Jr. (TN-2) seemed to agree with the Chairman’s concerns. He asked the witnesses whether there even is such a thing as cyber security in today’s technological environment. Acting Administrator Carolyn Colvin made clear that hackers will continue making attempts to infiltrate SSA’s system on a daily basis, but that the administration is vigilant about addressing the attacks immediately and with the greatest expertise. Deputy Commissioner Robert Klopp added that the benefits of technology far outweigh the risks of vulnerability, and that the administration will continue to make progress with adequate funding.
TSCL shares the security concerns of those present at Thursday’s hearing. Protecting the personal information of the American public is critical, and we believe SSA should continue to prioritize the security of its networks. In the months ahead, we will advocate on Capitol Hill for legislation that would give the administration the tools and resources it needs to protect current, past, and future beneficiaries from identity theft and other serious security risks. For updates, visit our progress on Facebook or Twitter.
Key Bill Gains Support
This week, four new cosponsors – Reps. Bob Dold (IL-10), Derek Kilmer (WA-6), Randy Forbes (VA-4), and Rick Nolan (MN-8) – signed on to the bipartisan Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act (H.R. 711). The cosponsor total is now up to ninety-six.
If signed into law, H.R. 711 would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), a provision that reduces the earned Social Security benefits of millions of teachers, police officers, and other public servants by as much as 40 percent each year. It would establish a new formula for their non-covered earnings, and it would create an additional formula for retirees who are currently affected. TSCL was pleased to see four new cosponsors sign on to H.R. 711 this week since we believe its passage would be a sensible step forward. We hope to see it signed into law before the end of this year.