AI Can Rescue Government Agencies Stuck in COBOL Quagmire

Press Release : June 29, 2020
AI Can Rescue Government Agencies Stuck in COBOL Quagmire

June 24, 2020: “Artificial Intelligence (AI) can rescue federal and state governments who are struggling to decode outdated COBOL software programs and help in hastening the disbursal of CARES Act funds and processing of unemployment claims,” states Dr. Alok Aggarwal, CEO & Chief Data Scientist, Scry Analytics.

COBOL is a 61-year old computer language for processing data and is unable to scale up or quickly handle numerous simultaneous requests. This urgency has become particularly pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic as illustrated by the examples below:

• The US Internal Revenue Service scrambled to patch its COBOL-based Individual Master File in order to disburse around 150 million payments mandated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
• With the ensuing unemployment surge in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy recently put out a call for volunteers who know how to code in COBOL, because many of New Jersey’s systems still run on old mainframes.
• The state of Connecticut admitted that it too was struggling to process the large volume of unemployment claims with its 40-year-old COBOL mainframe system.

COBOL experts who can decipher these programs are in short supply with only two million such programmers remaining in the world and about half retired. These numbers continue to decrease, as colleges are no longer teaching this language, and the few graduating students who know COBOL do not want to use it for the fear of being labelled as ‘blue-collar tech workers’.

Since the cost of replacing COBOL code is around 25 dollars per line, the total cost and time of replacing 200 billion lines of code will be about five trillion dollars and 40 million person years, wherein approximately half ($2.5 trillion and 20 million person years) will have to be spent on deciphering COBOL programs.

Evidently, the lack of COBOL programming expertise and the corresponding huge expense that it entails, are the biggest hurdles in replacing legacy COBOL programs. Fortunately, the following two reasons have enabled companies like Scry Analytics to develop AI-based software to help decipher COBOL programs, thereby reducing the conversion time and cost by 75%, and dropping the number of COBOL programmers required to just 15%:

• COBOL is a comparatively a simple language with no pointers, no data structures, no user defined functions or types, and no recursion, and with data types being only numbers or text.
• Most COBOL programs spend around 70% of their time executing input/output and read/write operations and their output tables provide a good synopsis of the entire execution.

Collatio® – a data flow mapping software from Scry Analytics can ingest all input and output tables related to a given COBOL program and uses proprietary AI-based algorithms to reverse engineer the transformations that are performed by this COBOL program, thereby inferring the steps executed by this program, and helping the user create a flow-chart of the program’s inner workings.

Company Details – Scry Analytics
Dr. Alok Aggarwal founded Scry Analytics in 2014 to develop a AI-based enterprise applications and a comprehensive platform that enable clients to rethink and automate their data-driven and manually intensive business operations.
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