Looking Forward By Looking back

Looking back from thirty years later, there are a lot of lessons to learn from the failed federal National Data Center proposal and the nationwide system of databanks, access terminals, and computer networks that private industry built in the resulting vacuum.

Perhaps the most important lesson is that decisions made early on have far-reaching effects. Designed in 1932, the Social Security number has had its role in society constantly expanded over the last two-thirds of this century. No matter how you look at it, the SSN is a bad number. But our country has been unable to stop using it. Witness the huge number of uses that the number has today.[20]


Authorized Uses of Social Security Numbers


Federal agencies use SSN exclusively for employees.


Civil Service Commission uses SSN as an employee identifier.


Internal Revenue Service uses SSN as taxpayer identification.


Department of Defense uses SSN as an Armed Forces identifier.


U.S. begins issuing SSNs to legally admitted aliens at U.S. entry and to anyone receiving or applying for federal benefits.


AFDC (Aid for Families with Dependent Children) uses SSN for


States use SSN for tax and general public assistance identification and for driver's licenses.


Food stamp program uses SSN for household member eligibility.


School lunch program uses SSN for adult household member eligibility.


Selective Service System uses SSN for draft registrants. ...

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