May 26, 2016
Do you remember these things? Yeah, neither do I.
What sort of a thing is this?
Pakistan has nukes – do you think they’re storing their nuclear info on floppy disks?
Hint: no, they’re not.
Three-quarters of federal agencies’ IT budgets go on operation and maintenance rather than upgrades, and some legacy technologies, such as floppy disks used by the Pentagon for nuclear missiles, are over 50 years old.
The overview of how the US government continues to use archaic technologies in some vital areas was given in a report released on Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report said that the budget for IT modernization has fallen by $7.3 billion since 2010 while operations costs continued to grow. Of approximately 7,000 IT investments reviewed, the majority (5,223) do not spend a penny on upgrading their systems.
One of the legacy technologies identified by GAO is 8-inch floppy disks, which are used by the DoD to operate the functions of American nuclear forces. A computer system, on which deployment of ICBMs, nuclear bombers and tanker aircraft depends, runs on 1970s computers that use the floppy disks. The Pentagon plans to get rid of them by 2017, the report said.
Even more ancient technologies are still in use by the Department of Treasury, and unlike the DoD it has no plans to have them upgraded anytime soon. The department uses so-called master files to track accounts of individual taxpayers and businesses. The system run on an IBM mainframe is about 56 years old and is written in assembly language, a low-level computer programming language. It is hard to read or write by inexperienced coders and is currently reserved for specialized applications such as device drivers, computer viruses or boot instructions. The Treasury wants to replace the master files with something more modern, but has no specific timetable for doing this.
Archaic technologies are used by other federal agencies. The Department of Veterans Affairs has a 53-year-old system for tracking employee attendance and a 51-year-old computer network that deals with benefit claims. Both systems are written in Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL) – a programming language developed in the 1950s and 1960s.
America is already a third world country.
Lower than a third world country, even.
They just haven’t told you yet.