The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Tennessee's current seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is somewhere around 10.5 percent. So you can imagine the extreme worry and concern when some 20,000 unemployed Tennesseans on the Extended Benefits or Emergency Unemployment Compensation program were told that their unemployment checks had erroneously run out.

According to news report like this one on ABCNews24 out of Nashville, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce said that a computer programming error did not allow the unemployed workers to certify their benefits Sunday or Monday, which is something that they must do once a week.

A fix has now been made, and those affected have until the end of this week to certify their status. Unemployment checks may be delayed a couple of days, however.

In the ABCNews24 story, a Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce spokesperson described the programming error this way:

"The code is very intense, and takes a long time to program. There are thousands of calculations that go into small changes in the system.  That programming error was deep in the system and we didn't know until we started getting call from our clients."

Hmm, "very intense code."

Sounds like somebody in the IT Department tried to explain to the spokesperson the reason for the bug and didn't quite communicate it very well.

Apparently, there have been recent eligibility changes in Extended Benefits and Emergency Unemployment Compensation program which have caused a number of Department of Labor and Workforce IT system changes. It looks like system testing didn't find all the bugs.

The Conversation (0)

Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

Keep Reading ↓Show less