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Outdated Computer Systems Threaten State Services

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“Obviously from a fiscal standpoint, since 2008 it has clearly gotten worse,” Robinson said. “We did this survey at just the very beginning of what would’ve been the Great Recession and downturn and states have actually faced more critical issues in the last three years.”

Despite the economy, most states have taken steps to at least upgrade their financial reporting systems.

Minnesota, Mississippi and Tennessee implemented new systems this year, and Virginia, California and Texas are doing so.

Tennessee’s new system cost nearly $89 million. Its massive software upgrade replaced decades-old systems and eliminated many manual processes. The state’s previous system was programmed in the COBOL language first developed in the late 1950s. It’s an antiquated programming language that many schools no longer even teach.

Colorado’s computer systems were, on average, 10 years old, and there are 77 systems that are at least 15 years old, according to a 2009 report from the state’s Office of Information Technology. Yet Colorado is one of the few states that has yet to update its system, according to the audit.

It’s clear to many government officials that it needs replacing.

Soon.

“Using COFRS is like driving a Model-A Ford. It can be driven, but sacrifices speed and efficiency, and could become unreliable,” the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, writing on behalf of the Colorado Controllers Forum, said a May letter to the Legislative Audit Committee.

Like the car, the department said, when – not if – the system breaks down, it could be difficult to find a mechanic who knows how to fix it.

Colorado’s financial reporting system was implemented in 1991 for about $19 million. Most of the people who know its COBOL programming language are gone.

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Posted by FanningCommunications on Oct 1st, 2011 and filed under Literature & Electronic. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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