How An Antiquated IT System Failed Thousands Of Hawaii’s Unemployed


May 6, 2020 | Honolulu Civil Beat

By Marcel Honore

The nearly quarter of a million unemployment insurance applications that Hawaii has received during the COVID-19 pandemic are being processed on a government mainframe that was installed in the early 1980s, back when Pac-Man was a cutting-edge video game.

It’s fragile and slow, with technology so obsolete that it predates using a mouse, officials say.

There’s no Microsoft Windows or anything resembling it. The dozens of state workers now assigned to field unemployment calls must instead use a keyboard to move the cursor across a basic, Atari-era screen as they try to help thousands of out-of-work applicants who urgently need payment.

“It’s a very manual process,” Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Director Scott Murakami said last month. “It really is tough with this antiquated mainframe system.”

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