Continued Software Problems Temporarily Kick County Employees Off Insurance

After months of headaches and millions of dollars in cost overruns, problems continue to plague a major Loudoun County government software upgrade.

The county in 2011 began the process of upgrading its enterprise resource planning software, a set of programs meant to handle everything from payroll to mass appraisals to tax billing across both the county and public schools. In June 2016, the county fired one vendor and hired Oracle America Corporation to finish setting up Oracle eBusiness Suite, and in July things looked back on track.

But that work has since been bogged down again with software glitches—even resulting in some employees temporarily losing their insurance coverage.

County spokesman Glen Barbour said the problems with Oracle do not appear to be predictable, and are part of a “stabilization period.”

“What the county is doing is going back and reestablishing coverage so that those individuals can do what they need to do, but also concurrently they’re working with Oracle and the tech team to find out what’s causing the issue,” Barbour said.

The county is retroactively covering those employees, and Barbour said their coverage in the long run will not be affected. In cases where their insurance deductions were not taken out, they will still have to pay. Barbour said the county is conducting a “top-to-bottom review” of the problem to try to find anyone whose insurance coverage might have been affected before they find out at the pharmacy or doctor’s office.

“The implementation team feels that this is common for an implementation of this size, to kind of work out the kinks,” Barbour said.

He said of the nearly 20,000 employees in the county and school system, less than 100 have been affected.

“In the total scheme of things, it’s not a systemic issue,” Barbour said. “It’s just impacting a handful of employees who have had unique circumstances.”

Public safety employees seem to pose a particularly complex problem, because of their complicated schedules and pay, and a separate program they use to keep track of their working hours which must interface with Oracle.

“They’re doing the best they can, it’s just one of those things where it’s frustrating on all sides,” Barbour said.

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