From the minutes of a recent meeting of the Social Security Advisory Board (SSAB):
... In the morning session, the Board met with Robert Klopp, the Chief Information Officer and Deputy Commissioner for Systems at SSA, and John Garrigues, Chief Programs Officer for the SSA Disability Case Processing System (DCPS) development team. Mr. Klopp updated the Board on SSA’s in-house efforts to develop a second-generation disability case processing system (the DCPS2 project). The project was launched in fall 2015 after DCPS’s earlier efforts failed to produce a usable system. This effort, DCPS1, included a contract with Lockheed Martin. Mr. Klopp said that his office has conducted some early testing of DCPS2 with several state Disability Determination Services offices (DDSs). He reported that users found the system useful and intuitive. He acknowledged that, as yet, the system can support only quick disability determinations and compassionate allowance cases. Mr. Klopp said he expects the system to be able to handle about 50% of all cases by May 2017. Mr. Klopp also discussed a disability case processing and management system in development by MicroPact, a private company. MicroPact recently merged with Iron Data Solutions, a sub-contractor under Lockheed Martin on DCPS1.
MicroPact has informed SSA that it is building a system for the DDSs and believes that its system will meet the needs of the individual DDSs better than the system being developed internally. Mr. Klopp said the MicroPact project was in its early stages of development. He also expressed the opinion that the MicroPact system does not yet have and may never have as broad a range of functionalities as he claims that DCPS2 will have. He expressed the view that MicroPact is selling its product to Congress before it is built through an intense lobbying effort. Mr. Klopp said that he is looking for a fair and independent evaluation of the two systems before one was chosen over the other. He also said that he believes that such an evaluation will be impossible until MicroPact has completed the first phase of development of its software, which Mr. Klopp said MicroPact projects to be complete in spring, 2017.
In its afternoon session, the Board met with Tom Sechler, the Chief Executive Officer of MicroPact. Mr. Sechler explained to the Board that the current corporate structure of MicroPact was established in 2015, when the company merged with Iron Data Solutions, of which Mr. Sechler was CEO. Although Iron Data worked with Lockheed Martin on DCPS1, Mr. Sechler stated that Iron Data should not be held responsible for the failure of DCPS1, as the language in that contract limited Iron Data’s role in the project and precluded it from raising with SSA concerns Sechler said that Iron Data had with Lockheed’s management of the project. Iron Data is also the developer of the legacy disability case processing systems currently in use by 47 DDSs. Mr. Sechler said this experience gives his company an advantage over competitors, as staff at Iron Data understand DDS processes. Mr. Sechler said that MicroPact is currently investing in developing that system with its own funding. If SSA chooses to use their system, Mr. Sechler said that MicroPact would charge SSA only for installation and upkeep, which Mr. Sechler said would be less than SSA currently pays. Mr. Sechler hopes to prove to Congress that he has a system worth investing in and that a version of the software would be ready for use by April 2017. Mr. Sechler was asked directly whether he would support Mr. Klopp’s call for an independent evaluation of the two systems in the Spring of 2017 but did not say whether he does so.