The Department of Social Protection has told this website that a software failure following an upgrade to its systems last week will be resolved today, and will not impact payments to customers. However, staff working on the front line have challenged this, and said that the situation has created a “crisis”. They say they have been told it will be fixed each day for several days, but this has not happened.

Last week, the Department carried out an upgrade to it’s BOMi (Business Object Model implementation) system which resulted in what has been described as a major systems failure. A staff member at a front line welfare office told Gript:

“The BOMi system is used to maintain claimant records. It holds all the data on a customer. It is essential to the smooth running of claims. When the system went down, every pending task was wiped from that system”

A “pending task” refers to updates to claimant data. For example, someone moving from Jobseekers Benefit to Jobseekers allowance will need to make a new claim, and the claim is logged as a “task” on the BOMi system. Similarly, if somebody gets a job, the order to cease their welfare payments is logged on the system.

“The failure of the system basically means that we cannot see what customers are entitled to”, the staff member said. “We have already had people coming in to us giving out yards, but management don’t seem to care. There have been no updates in writing, everything is verbal, because it seems like they are trying to keep it quiet. I have a funny feeling it’s bigger than they want us to know about”.

The Department issued a statement to Gript, saying:

“The Department carried out some upgrade work to its IT system over the weekend.  Following this upgrade, a software issue arose which resulted in officials not being able to view some information on their screens when processing claims. The cause of the software issue has been identified and is currently being resolved and will be completed today. No data has been lost. Customers’ files and payment schedules have not been affected.“