Dinosaur computers in IRS and federal government

cobol programmer

The IRS has the oldest computers in use by the federal government. Before you go “haw, haw, why don’t they just upgrade”, well, it’s complicated.

1) Congress thinks itself oh so clever by slashing the IRS budget then complaining their systems are antiquated.

2) This is not news. The Commissioner of the IRS recently said they have systems written when JFK was president.

3) Upgrading dinosaur systems is seriously complicated. California has tried to upgrade their similarly antiquated state payroll systems twice and it was a massive failure both times.

4) Imagine if you will, fifty year old computer systems that have been added onto, modified, and dozens maybe hundreds of subsidiary systems created that feed data in and out of it and no one really knows how it works, the original programmers are dead or retired and documentation, don’t make me laugh. They probably don’t even have source code for some of the systems.

5) Now imagine that such systems handle vital financial information and that tens of millions would be pissed it the upgrade went wrong and they didn’t get their refund checks.

PS Lots of other federal agencies also have wheezingly old computer systems too.


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