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.
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.