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NBC15 Investigates: DWD confirms coding software COBOL to blame for issues

The Department of Workforce Development details why the agency is still using COBOL.
The Department of Workforce Development details why the agency is still using COBOL.(NBC15)
Published: May. 8, 2020 at 3:52 PM CDT
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On Thursday, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) confirmed with NBC15 Investigates that its 50-year-old version of

is the reason for issues with unemployment claim processing and payments.

The agency’s Secretary Caleb Frostman said a COBOL software error issued

to claimants with US Bank accounts last week, Thursday. Frostman also mentioned that COBOL has made things difficult while rolling out federal unemployment programs quickly.

NBC15 Investigates asked Frostman why the system has not been updated.

"We wanted to make that upgrade as soon as possible and we didn't get that modernization done before COVID hit. We really had it at a high priority because of the lessons learned coming out of the great recession," Frostman replied.

According to Frostman, the department had begun getting bids from vendors to replace the COBOL software late last year, but was unable to secure a replacement before COVID-19 hit.

Frostman also said the DWD asked legislators for improvements to the COBOL system in March, but lawmakers did not take up the request.