Site Selection Snafus Slow Social Security

One of the biggest projects funded through the Obama administration’s economic stimulus plan has been slowed by a dispute over data center site selection. More than $500 million in stimulus funding has been earmarked for a new data center for the Social Security Administration. But the project is already six months behind schedule due to debates about the process the agency has used to select a site for the 300,000 square facility, NextGov reports.

The SSA is seeking a large parcel of land within 40 miles of Baltimore for the new data center, which will replace the agency’s National Computer Center, which is 30 years old and “severely limited” in its capacity. The facility maintains earnings and benefits information for nearly every American worker, processing 75 million transactions per day.

The site selection process initially came under scrutiny in April, when government auditors expressed concern that the process had not given enough consideration to the cost of electric power. By August it appeared that the selection process had been narrowed to two sites in Maryland, one in Urbana and another in Woodlawn, not far from the existing site for the agency’s primary data center on a campus in Woodlawn.

A decision on a location was scheduled to be made this month. But NextGov reports that Sen. Charles Grassley, a ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, has raised questions about the SSA’s decision to buy new land for the facility rather than finding space for it on the agency’s existing Woodlawn campus.

Social Security says the agency “remains troubled about the growing risk of structural problems in its old building,” and continues to work closely with GSA, Congress and the administration to move the project forward. Barring a reveral, the agency hopes to buy land for the new facility by December.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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