Second computer crash could cost $100 million

Taxpayers Association of Oregon

Thanks to the Oregon Employment Department’s outdated computers, Oregon’s 270,000 unemployed could be out as much as $162,000,000 in benefits according to KGW-TV.  The actual damage cost may not be known for some time.  This is the SECOND TIME in the past ten years the Employment Department computers have wasted tens of millions of taxpayer dollars.

Because Oregon’s ancient computers – some dating back to the Reagan administration – they are not only unable to handle the claims volume, but difficult to update. Oregon’s claims system is built on an antique programming language called COBOL, developed in the 1950 – they cannot cope with the change. Oregon’s unemployed will lose a week’s benefits.  Governor Brown has tried to waive the state’s one-week waiting period to speed up processing of people’s claims but the system is still having a problem adjusting.  Others say the waiver will make things worse.

Oregon received $86 million in federal money to update the system in 2009, but did not start modernization until 2016. The process will not be complete until 2025. Management failures under former Gov. John Kitzhaber delayed the updates.   An audit at the time showed that they wasted as much as $30 million dollars.  The audit was done when Kate Brown was Secretary of State which heads up the audit functions of the State.

Here is how The Oregonian described the widespread disaster and scandal allegations at the Oregon Employment Department back in 2013.

“Oregon Employment Department chief, deputy lose jobs after probe finds waste, mismanagement”

” the agency had a 61 percent recovery rate. Yet it turns out officials cherry-picked the numbers “

” a multi-million-dollar software program was veering off track.”

“the agency’s No. 2, stepped down June 3, announced by email hours before she left. . She’s the subject of an ethics complaint concerning oversight of her brother-in-law, who also worked at the Employment Department”

“.. Marlin Pohlman […a] subcontractor, faulted leadership that created “toxic role combinations” and “organization inefficiencies.”Pohlman’s credibility, however, came into question in March when he was arrested on accusations of drugging and sexually assaulting several women in Portland.”

It appears that the first computer system meltdown was completely ignored (despite warnings) and now has put tens of millions of taxpayers dollars and people’s relief checks at risk.


— 50-plus straight days of virus/shutdown reporting by the Taxpayer Association of Oregon on this website.

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