Case Study

SCRGT’s responsive solutions make positive impacts on missions and lives.

Case Study: Digital Services
Customer: Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), Office of Benefits Administration (OBA)

Background

Chartered to encourage the growth of defined benefit pension plans, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) provides timely and uninterrupted payment of pension benefits and keeps pension insurance premiums to a minimum. PBGC protects the pensions of nearly 40 million workers and retirees in more than 24,000 private defined benefit pension plans.

Salient CRGT (SCRGT) supports the Office of Benefits Administration (OBA) under a 10-year contract that launched in 2019, with responsibility for all actuarial products within PBGC’s actuarial product line portfolio, including its two major components – the Integrated Present Value of Future Benefits (IPVFB) system and the Benefits Calculation and Valuation (BCV) system. OBA relies on its systems to achieve its mission and partners with PBGC’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) to maintain a secure, flexible, and scalable technology that supports effective and efficient business operations.

The Challenge

Under prior contracting paradigms, PBGC faced cost and performance issues across its IT contract portfolio, including duplicative efforts and costs, stovepipe behaviors and communication challenges, and lack of innovation. PBGC shifted to a product-oriented contracting structure, selecting SCRGT as the single contractor responsible for the enhancement, operations, maintenance, and modernization of its actuarial product line, which consists of more than 500 custom-built software applications. Using these products, PBGC manages actuarial data for participants in over 4,000 pension plans valued at approximately $105 billion, with a high degree of accuracy (as independently audited).

The Solution

Consistent with PBGC’s IT Solutions Lifecycle Management (ITSLCM) framework, SCRGT participates in business needs analyses, alternatives analyses, and feasibility studies as well as employs Agile and DevSecOps methodologies to modernize, enhance, and maintain actuarial products. We work closely with PBGC’s product owners to anticipate and respond to system changes that are driven by business requirements or technology changes, ensuring alignment with PBGC’s product roadmap.

As part of overarching actuarial product modernization efforts, SCRGT is introducing a modern architecture that employs loosely coupled layers to facilitate reuse and replacement at a component level, ensure horizontal scalability, and facilitate cloud migration.

Using Agile and DevSecOps methods, we are executing a digital transformation for BCV, moving from BCV’s legacy client server architecture (Visual Basic, Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, CodeFusion) to web-based applications using .Net, C#, and an Oracle Database. We established Azure Boards to manage development and maintenance efforts across a complex set of products and a DevSecOps tool chain for automation. This included products such as Jenkins, Ant, and Maven for deployment; Deque axe for 508 compliance; JMeter for load testing; OWASP ZAP for code scanning; SonarQube and OWASP DC for static code analysis; Ant, Maven, Gradle, and NPM for builds; Mockito, PowerMock, and JUnit for unit testing; Selenium and Cucumber for functional testing; and Artifactory as an artifact repository.

SCRGT ensures cyber security and privacy considerations are incorporated across all phases of actuarial system development, maintenance, and operations. We used DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) metrics to track the success of this initiative, improving the observed mean speed of software change deployment to within days for routine requirements and less than a day for urgent requirements.

The Impact

Upon contract award, we rapidly advanced PBGC’s DevSecOps maturity, migrating to the Microsoft Azure DevSecOps platform in less than two months. The new DevSecOps-based process streamlined support to interdependent applications, reduced cost, mitigated risk, and continually improved customer service. For the Integrated Present Value of Future Benefits (IPVFB) program, SCRGT improved the release frequency from one release per year to a planned release every other month, with the capability to deploy emergency fixes to production in 20-minutes. We are continuing to rollout DevSecOps improvements to reduce release lead times across the portfolio. Our continuous integration quality checks and automated testing improvements have also improved the reliability and quality of releases.

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