Comment on page

Update systems for new programs

Challenge: Existing systems are fragile to begin with, and making changes for the new programs is difficult

What our partners are saying

  • We have "daily ‘Severity Level 1’ incidents in IT, because our infrastructure has a hard time keeping up." --State C
  • “The challenge is, the law passes, the president doesn’t sign it, then he signs it, but what people hear is that there’ll be $300 more in your account tomorrow. And that’s not how it works, we have to reprogram everything." --State D
  • “Normally in a business you’d have two versions of this program so you could make updates to the program on the one while being live on the other - we can’t switch over like that. We can only take pieces offline, we’ve been trying to do a security update, and we try to put it in, and something else goes wrong, we have to back it out, take our whole system offline for half of a saturday every week.” --State D
  • “Right now is the best the mainframe is ever going to be"" 5 minutes from now it may be worse. [...] My claims agents work from a green screen, like Oregon Trail. It’s Oregon trail every single day." --State E
  • “We tried to move quickly and the changes aren’t embedded or tested as they should be in normal times cause you need to get them out.” --State F


  1. 1.
    US DOL should provide guidance on what it means to modernize the system based on solving agency and constituent problems, not just on the need to get off mainframes and migrating data. Funding for modernization should be incentivized to get states to use modular contracting and agile software development.
  2. 2.
    US DOL should work with the US Legislature to find more consistent funding sources than large, one-off grants from stimulus packages.
  3. 3.
    US DOL should establish a USDS team reporting to senior leadership that exists independently of the areas responsible for audit and enforcement to work with states to build a “no-blame” environment of trust and address urgent pandemic issues - including conducting discovery, enabling sharing of concerns, and creating a forum to get feedback on potential actions by the federal government.
    1. 1.
      Use deployed cross-functional USDS teams that establish good working relationship with states to iteratively transition from ‘rapid response’ to ‘modernization’ at the right time/pace so that shared services can be built and deployed together with states
    2. 2.
      Offer to conduct rapid-review sprint to provide recommendations to the state and inform the development of a best practice guide
    3. 3.
      Open offer to deploy cross-functional USDS teams to states to implement items from the recommendation sprint
    4. 4.
      Offer to conduct user interviews with state claimants to provide insights to improve the delivery of UI benefits in the state
    5. 5.
      Offer to provide states with procurement/contract support, including the review of existing contracts and issuance of new contracts