CalATERS Crawl

I work for an obscure part of the accounting department within the California Department of Corrections (CDCR). We have three computer systems used for various accounting functions. None of the computers can talk to each other. At best data from one system can be batch dumped into another system.

The mainframe system seems like it was state-of-the-art when Ronald Reagan was President. Much of accounting is done via a program from SAP. Travel expenses are done via a custom application designed for Windows XP. This program runs in a Java sandbox.”

Recently, the “sandbox” has gotten filled. Hundreds of man-hours are wasted just trying to log-on to the system. This program is the primary application that people in my unit are supposed to be running. Lately, many in my office have gone a day or two at a time without being able to log-on or process travel claims.

The ultimate organization that controls this program is the State Controller’s Office (SCO). Unfortunately, SCO is caught with their cyber pants around their ankles and a look of bewilderment. Instead of being prepared for a department wide implementation of the program by CDCR, they have been caught unaware.

Now this program has been in its current form since 2001. Requiring all institutions to use the program was a deliberate decision and I’m confident that SCO said no problem when they heard CDCR would begin requiring the use of the program. Only about 26,000 people in the department are even registered users. That’s less than 1/3 of CDCR employees.

SCO supposedly upgraded their servers and maxed-out RAM in the system last week-end. It has resulted in no noticeable improvement in the functioning of the travel program. The bottom line is that there are too many users trying to connect simultaneously and the system—no doubt built with millions in tax dollars by the lowest bidder—is unable to handle the real world conditions.

It will be interesting to see how the long this situation persists.