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I asked a few friends about the New Jersey call. They (2 of them, both retired and over 70) claimed there's no work to be done and it's actually an incompetently administered administration with human problems who are scapegoating the technology. Also supposedly the New Jersey govt sacked their team and then was trying to contract out the work at $50/hr. Now they are offering $0/hr. And the solution isn't in software, or so they claimed.

This assessment was after both signed up to volunteer to do the work and saw it was a human process failing and not a software issue. People tend to point to the parts most mysterious to them when things start to fail - a zSeries frame is in actual reality, a very important big black mystery box that officials with access to microphones are not allowed to touch - perfect.

Don't let this discourage you though, their problems are still very real.

How many folks on HN have witnessed this same very thing within large mega-corps and government agencies? I've seen it a LOT.

The big bummer is that the crisis almost requires enabling behavior here, in the sense that if there are things wrong with said COBOL system, it's the fault of the NJ gov't for not fixing it a long time ago. People should rescue this for the sake of the unemployed, but can we please fire people for this?

This isn't a red state: They collect plenty of revenue. So IF IT IS COBOL SYSTEM, and not just bureaucrats, it's still NJ's fault.

As Bezos said recently regarding the Seattle city gov't:

They don't have a revenue problem. They have a spending efficiency problem.

> This isn't a red state: They collect plenty of revenue.

They spend even more. NJ is in the worst spot out of all the states:


> This isn't a red state: They collect plenty of revenue.

Part of this revenue collection (tax policy) is why corps are moving en masse, the recent largest example is Honeywell's relocation to Charlotte. NJ's latest tax hike has actually caused them a net loss in revenue.

NJ seems to be on the bad side of the Laffer curve.


How it affected their expenses? A big corp leaving lessens services utilization which might help if NJ was paying a hefty premium for over-using their infrastructure.

A good theory but doesn't apply here, but I did leave out a key piece of info: the largest drop has actually been in income tax ala large hedge fund managers who have fled the state. Carolina Panthers owner and billionaire David Tepper is one recent-ish high profile example, but there are many others. Corps like Honeywell aren't an infrequent sight either. New Jersey's revenue has fallen YoY since the loss of Tepper et all.

The insane part of me here is NJ politicians keep clamoring to raise taxes more. It's almost as if they heard De Blasio's campaign slogan and thought it was a great idea.

I was surprised to find it's not california or new york that have the highest taxes, New Jersey has the highest taxes in the nation.

I was reading more in depth about this NJ tax situation recently. Apparently a lot of it has to do with how they divided up counties into tiny municipalities, and each one gets its own public services such as firefighters/EMTs, police, etc.-- which of course all have solid pension plans.

If they consolidated and streamlined, it would be much more efficient, but there are numerous barriers to this (not least of which how eliminating a bunch of those jobs would go over with the public). They're likely going to have to do something eventually, they just haven't figured out how yet.

Yeah, I feel like as much as we programmers like to make believe that we can re-architect our programs and it'll solve all of the problems, often times the problems are up the chain with the design of the product.

Interesting. Recently I've been getting emails for $55/hr work with "security clearance". I see how this kind of contracting operates; many body shops have become "minority owned" corporations. Minority = either women or color.

It’s a scamola. They’re required to have X% of contracts fall into that minority / women-owned category so there’s a series of shell companies that offer a conduit service to subcontract the work.

The prime contractors are required to give out a certain amount of work to women/minority owned companies. There is a big number of these companies around DC. It’s one of the best ways to get into government contracting.

Everyone needs their cut. The original contracting company's probably charging $100+ an hour. They sub it out to another company for $75/hr. Eventually it gets to someone who actually does the work for $55/hr or less. They think they're getting a good deal, meanwhile everyone's getting screwed, from the employee to the government agency, due to all these middlemen.

The problem are the procurement rules. You want to make procurement as 'fair' as possible, but this makes the process lengthy, slow and costly. The only option or deal with this form the administration perspective is to to occasional big support contracts with generic terms, which then call in specific expertise when it's needed. The administration knows it's overpaying and getting 2nd rate service, but the alternative is to wait 2 years to launch a procedure and get a contract with hopefully the right guys. But the right guys rarely apply as the procurement rules are too complex to handle for any organisation that isn't specialised in handling procurement.

> Eventually it gets to someone who actually does the work for $55/hr or less.

In my observation, after 5-10 layers of indirection, it eventually ends up overseas with a young foreign national who makes $3 an hour and absolutely does not have the required security clearance.

The full requirements (security clearance, bonding, etc.) will probably make that $55 hr a bigger joke.

>it's actually an incompetently administered administration with human problems

Yeah, sounds like New Jersey. I'm surprised that they sacked the team, it would be a very NJ thing to keep them on and just handwave the costs away.

Jerry Weinberg, in his classic Secrets of Consulting: No matter what it looks like, it's always a people problem.

"Human problems" is even more vague than "software issues". Any details as to what in the process is actually the bottleneck or failing?

No piece of software survives contact with humans.

As standard, most problems end up being ultimately human, not technical.

> Don't let this discourage you though, their problems are still very real.

Is that statement directed a programmers who want to help NJ? Because you made a pretty good argument earlier in your post that this isn't a software development problem.

The opinions of two people hardly can be considered as constituting any true reality.

I'd love for them to be wrong, that'd be great.

Places other than NJ have problems.


It literally can't be worse than private insurance.

Where is there a system based on private insurance?

The US. Who doesn't know this?

Deregulate healthcare pls. The cartels are straight evil.

yeah sure I'd loooove to have preexisting conditions back

Well it is in most of the world. Compare the US to Canada, similar patient outcomes at double the cost.

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