COVID-19 Stimulus and Unemployment Payments May be Delayed Due to Old Computer Programming Languages

COVID-19 Stimulus and Unemployment Payments May be Delayed Due to Old Computer Programming Languages

Published April 14, 2020

Some banks and the IRS still use programming languages from the 1950’s era and this may be what’s delaying many COVID-19 stimulus and unemployment payments.

The programming language COBOL is used in the mainframe computers that many banks still use to process batches of transactions and in ATMs. Since COBOL isn’t popular anymore, many of the programmers have aged out of the workforce and the systems aren’t up-to-date, and bugs can’t be fixed as quickly as they should be.

Some banks have started moving their workload to cloud services like Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, etc., but around 43% are still using COBOL on mainframes. Since banks are interconnected, this is causing some banking systems to slow down and many payments to be delayed.

In addition to banks, many state unemployment offices still use COBOL.

Some banks and states have resorted to asking retired COBOL programmers to come out of retirement to help fix the systems.

To add to this, the IRS, which is responsible for distributing stimulus payments, is still using Assembly Language in some of their systems. Similar to COBOL, Assembly Language is a very old programming language that is not used much anymore which makes it hard to find programmers to update it and fix bugs.

Related:

IRS Announces Delivery of COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments and Tool to Check Payment Status

Extra Federal Unemployment Funds to Start Being Paid Out April 13

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