[plt-scheme] Perplexed Programmers

From: Todd O'Bryan (toddobryan at mac.com)
Date: Sat Aug 25 23:39:50 EDT 2007

On Aug 25, 2007, at 3:47 PM, Anton van Straaten wrote:

> Richard Cleis wrote:
>> A tenth of a billion dollars was spent on a payroll system that   
>> doesn't work because "complicated, varied job assignments and pay   
>> scales have perplexed computer programmers."
>> http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me- 
>> payroll25aug25,0,630079.story? track=mostviewed-storylevel
>> As computers and computer science mature, these stories (and my  
>> own  trivial experiences) get worse.  What's going wrong?
> What's going wrong?  I'd bet it's all embodied in that sentence  
> "complicated, varied job assignments and pay scales".  A highly  
> likely translation of that is that as yet, there exists no  
> specification that fully and accurately describes the required  
> behavior of the system, including all the fudging and special- 
> casing that the humans involved in the process rely on.  Without  
> such a specification, it is of course impossible to produce a  
> working program to automate these processes.

As a high school teacher, I think the whole thing shows complete  
stupidity on the part of the programmers and the people who  
contracted with them. A district with 90,000 employees is not 90  
times more complicated than a district with 1,000 employees. In any  
sufficiently complicated district (which means employees of different  
types and schools that run on more than one schedule), you will have  
to deal with all of the problems that LAUSD has to deal with. Once  
you've solved the problem of handling multiple pay schedules,  
handling several different kinds is substantially less complicated.

And let's not forget that they're paying more than $1000 *per  
employee* for this new system. That's INSANE!

I think the consulting firm and the software firm need to be sued out  
of existence by the people whose credit ratings have been ruined and  
hours of whose lives have been wasted by their incompetence. If  
doctors, lawyers, or engineers had shown such gross incompetence,  
they'd lose their licenses.


Posted on the users mailing list.