There were news reports today stating that the glitch plaguing the US state of Pennsylvania's Department of Labor and Industry computer system for over two weeks has finally been fixed. Since the 13th of November, some 13,000 Pennsylvanians eligible for extended unemployment checks have not been receiving them, according to this WGAL TV news video report. The WGAL report said state officials claimed that there was no way that the missing checks could be manually written, and according to a WGAL article on its web site Tuesday, state officials also indicated that "people will have to live without benefits" until the state could figure out what was causing the glitch and fix it.
Fortunately, WGAL reported today that state officials said the computer issue was now resolved, and that back payments "... should be processed by Friday and at the latest show up in accounts early next week." Exactly what the computer glitch was has not been explained.
In 2009, some 100,000 Pennsylvanians on unemployment were affected by another Department of Labor and Industry computer system glitch. The state is currently in the midst of working on a new computer system to replace the current one which no longer looks fit for purpose, according to this WTAE TV report.
In similar "glitch-related" news, some 50 Swedish organizations, ranging from Stockholm's city government to the country's largest pharmacy chain Apoteket and even the state-owned bank SBAB, have been affected by an unspecified computer hardware problem at the Finnish IT services provider Tieto, according to Stockholm News and Reuters news stories. Apparently, Tieto provides Internet and intranet services to the affected organizations.
Tieto, which says that it's "... the leading IT service company in Northern Europe" has not been able to provide an estimate of when the problem will be fixed. The Reuters article states the IT company may be facing millions in damages because of the operational impacts on the affected organizations.
The Stockholm News story states that the Swedish Authority for Civil Contingencies (MSB) is in discussions with the organizations about the on-going problem. It quotes Richard Oehm, Head of Information Security at the MSB, as saying:
"There is a big risk when using more and more of the same services, but the responsibility to make a proper risk and vulnerability assessment lies on the individual authority or company."
If anyone has more insight about the Tieto situation, please comment about it. News stories in English on the situation are sparse in both numbers and details, which is a bit surprising, given the number and size of organizations affected and the problem's duration.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.