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Bug Government HP The Almighty Buck IT

HP Software Update Cancels Food Stamps 240

Spy Handler writes "A software update of the California welfare computer system (CalWIN) caused 37,000 Food Stamp recipients to lose their EBT (a credit card paid for by the government) benefits last weekend. According to the article, Hewlett Packard was responsible for the failed update of CalWIN, but at 8:00 a.m. today Xerox (who administers another state welfare system called CalFresh) issued a patch that reactivated the EBT cards."
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HP Software Update Cancels Food Stamps

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  • This article seems to be worded to make Xerox look good and HP look bad.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      The summary is incorrect as well. EBT isn't a credit card, it's a debit card. EBT stands for "electronic benefits transfer". Since this is LINK it isn't even a real debit card, since all you can spend it on is groceries (no soap, no beer, no cigarettes, no Big Macs).

      And speaking of Big Macs, that guy cooking that Big Mac is on LINK. In the US we make the poor work, quite unlike most of Europe. LINK doesn't really benefit its recipients, it benefits its recipient's employers like fast food joints (not just t

  • It's a feature.

  • That was a time-bomb put in by Carly Fiorina years ago, thinking that she'd (still) be Governor by now.
  • by eksith ( 2776419 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @08:28PM (#42526203) Homepage

    Knew when I saw the title, there would be posts praising HP for their blunder. Look, welfare needs reform, no one (sane) doubts that, but to end the whole system indiscriminately is both counterproductive and inhumane. There are many reasons why someone would need to go on welfare so learn a bit more sympathy and please stop the thinly veiled "kill 'em all" attitude.

    Besides, the they fixed the mess in a day, so at most this was a major inconvenience.

    • Knew when I saw the title, there would be posts praising HP for their blunder. Look, welfare needs reform, no one (sane) doubts that, but to end the whole system indiscriminately is both counterproductive and inhumane.

      There are plenty of people who are calling its end precisely because that's inhumane. Being willing to make "hard decisions" lets people feel like they are tough without actually being personally inconvenienced. It's an interesting, if disgusting, aspect of human psyche.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Look, welfare needs reform, no one (sane) doubts that

      Er, you're a little behind the times; reform happened already. PWORA was passed in 1996, limiting recipients to two years of cash benefits with a five year lifetime limit. ADFC (Aid to Families with Dependant Children) was abolished and replaced with TANF (Transitional Assistance to Needy Families). AFDC was an entitlement, TANF is not. To get your limited time welfare check you must prove you're looking for work or going to school.

      Someone who get

  • by powerspike ( 729889 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @08:35PM (#42526279)

    If HP Issued the patches, and xerox pushed a fix, then who's fault is it really?

    One of the biggest gripes about the patch release cycles is that they are slow. Companies like HP state this is for people to be able to do full testing etc to make sure nothing goes wrong. So the real question here is who didn't do their testing on the systems before the patches go live?

    It's obvious there has been mistakes made, but blaming the wrong company/person never helps the situation. There are people who currently rely on the welfare payments to make ends meet, and ensuring this type of stuff doesn't happen is critical. Regardless if you agree or not to the payments themselves, while they are valid they need to make sure they are delivered on time and correctly.

    • If HP Issued the patches, and xerox pushed a fix, then who's fault is it really?

      Please mod this up. The article says Xerox administers the CalWIN program. Xerox would likely be responsible for at least smoke testing this patch, even though it came from HP.

      Since the article isn't very detailed, it's hard to tell who is to blame most, but it seems at least as much blame goes to Xerox. I can think of many scenarios that would make it either companies' fault.

      What if Xerox used nonstandard data structures for their CalWIN? It might not be possible for the program creator to imagine ever

  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @08:47PM (#42526421) Journal

    Okay, since most of you probably never been on it, I will give you some info.

    Back before EBT was thought up, we had Food Stamps. They were basicly like paper money, but food stamps, only could be spend on food, but you got real change back. So this was abused. People would purposedly by cheap stuff to get change back to spend on drugs/alcohol.

    In the 90's they decided to go to a debit like card. This had a few purposes. One was about giving people actually real money change for the food stamps, the other it was cheaper to get digital.

    So they decided to go with EBT cards. The Food Stamp part of the card is only for buying Food. You can NOT use it to take money out, you can NOT use it to buy Alcohol. Only food.

    They also decided to put DSHS monthly payments on it, which is why you might see using one in an ATM machine, but they are NOT using the Food Stamp part of it.

    • What you say was and still is theoretical. There were rules. But as with any rules, you can always find ways around them.

      My family was on food stamps briefly back in the 80s. Back then, you'd go to a Post Office to pick up the stamp booklets. Later they made you go to a welfare office that was outfitted like an armored check cashing place with the bullet proof glass. Sometimes they had mobile stamp trucks which was an armored car with a walk-up window. It would drive around town and you had to A) fi

    • []
      "A basic income is an income unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement. It is a form of minimum income guarantee that differs from those that now exist in various European countries in three important ways:
      * it is being paid to individuals rather than households;
      * it is paid irrespective of any income from other sources;

  • Meanwhile, thousands of welfare recipients in California were tragically forced to use their drug profits to buy lapdances and liquor. Nobody knows when HP will fix this error so they can go back to buying new cars with their drug profiteering.
  • Software update fails, wow! Poor little food stamps.

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington