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Not dead yet: 7 of the oldest federal IT systems still wheezing away

Michael Cooney | May 26, 2016
From an IBM Series/1 and floppy drives to COBOL and Assembly languages, old federal systems never die.

Department of Veterans Affairs

  • System: Benefits Delivery Network
  • Age: 51
  • Function: Tracks claims filed by veterans for benefits, eligibility, and dates of death. This system is a suite of COBOL mainframe applications.
  • Replacement coming?: No -The agency has general plans to roll capabilities into another system, but there is no firm time frame associated with this transition.

Department of Justice

  • System: Sentry
  • Age: 35
  • Function: Provides information regarding security and custody levels, inmate program and work assignments, and other pertinent information about the inmate population. The system uses COBOL and Java programming languages.
  • Replacement coming?: Yes -The agency plans to update the system through September 2016.

Social Security Administration

  • System: Title II Systems
  • Age: 31
  • Function: Determines retirement benefits eligibility and amounts. The investment is comprised of 162 subsystems, some of which are written in COBOL.
  • Replacement coming?: Yes -The agency has ongoing modernization efforts, including one that is experiencing cost and schedule challenges due to the complexities of the legacy software.


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