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*** UPDATED x3 - Biss, Pritzker, Kennedy respond *** Another big problem uncovered at the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017

* Mark Maxwell

A malicious cyber attack launched in early July paralyzed a statewide computer program built to help Illinois veterans claim their benefits from the government.

The outage blanketed the state for at least six weeks and disrupted thousands of claims likely worth several million dollars, according to state records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Veterans were left to fill out pages of tedious paperwork and submit their claims on fax machines. The logjam delayed benefit claims that run the gamut, including drastic reductions in processed medical claims for wounded veterans, burial benefits for surviving family members and pension benefits for widows. […]

Stranded without access to their computers and some without internet, Veteran Service Officers worked overtime to fill out as many claims as they could on paper. Now that the program is back up and running, many of those claims are still waiting to be submitted online. Army veteran Justin Jennings works at the Springfield location and says he still sees a staggering amount of wounded combat veterans come in to claim benefits for the first time. […]

(N)early halfway through the fiscal year, the total figures and monthly averages in FY2018 are far behind the number of claims filed in previous years.

Veterans Compensation benefits are down 57 percent; Widows Pension benefit claims are 45 percent behind where they were last year; Veterans Pensions idle at 48 percent below FY17 figures; VA Education benefit claims lag 65 percent behind; DOD Combat Related Special Compensation claims suffered at a rate of 60 percent on average; Monthly Discharge/Medal claims were filed 73 percent slower after the July cyber attack; Also stuck in a 73 percent nosedive are death benefits for veterans killed in the line of duty and burial benefits granted to surviving family members; VA Insurance claims are down 62 percent so far this fiscal year.

Ugh.

Go read the rest.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Kennedy campaign…

This is yet another example of Governor Rauner and a broken system in Springfield failing our most vulnerable—our seniors and veterans.

Veterans risked their lives for us and, in return, Bruce Rauner watches as a growing claims backlog puts their health and, ultimately, their lives in jeopardy. Veterans left behind widows whose benefits have diminished under Rauner’s administration.

Bruce Rauner owes veterans and their families further explanation about why he’s knowingly let them suffer and he owes them an expedited plan to fully restore the online claims system and the benefits he’s withheld. It’s time for our elected leaders in both parties to demand accountability for failures so we can bring back transparency, faith and credibility to state government.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Pritzker campaign…

Thousands of Veteran benefits potentially totaling millions of dollars have lapsed after Bruce Rauner let a Department of Veterans’ Affairs hack spin out of control.

While millions of dollars in healthcare, pension, widow and burial benefits were interrupted, Bruce Rauner did little to address the hack, even praising a “rapid response” effort. This “rapid response” consisted of the entire statewide system shutting down for six weeks, forcing benefits to be administered through phone and fax. Almost six months after the hack, medical benefits for wounded veterans have plummeted by 62%, pension benefits for widows have dropped by 45%, and burial benefits have dropped by over 70%.

“Bruce Rauner’s gross mismanagement of our state government is costing veterans who bravely served our country the security and dignity they deserve,” said JB Pritzker. “Instead of taking charge and providing the leadership needed to navigate the state through this crisis, Rauner continues to evade responsibility and try to cover up the truth. Whole agencies of state government are not functioning, the lives of our nation’s heroes are on the line, and Illinoisans deserves answers from their failed governor.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Sen. Biss…

“It’s outrageous that Bruce Rauner continues to neglect his responsibility to our veterans. We have a social and moral responsibility to provide the best our government can offer to the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed for our country. Instead, veterans have lost their lives and are being denied the benefits they earned because our governor either lacks the empathy or the ability to effectively manage our state.

“Bruce Rauner is solely responsible for the way social services have failed our state’s most vulnerable residents under his watch. And while he’d like you to think “he’s not in charge” and that all our state’s problems are anyone else’s fault, the reality is that Bruce Rauner is a complete failure and a callous villain with no heart. There is no excuse for the pain and destruction he has caused Illinois families. That’s why we need a governor with experience, who will represent middle-class families across Illinois.”

* Related…

* Ill. Senator tours vets’ home due to Legionella cases: Cullerton said he hopes to find out through the hearing when the outbreaks actually occurred and why families weren’t notified immediately. He believed residents at the home shouldn’t have to worry about coming down with an illness like Legionnaires’ disease.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

17 Comments
  1. - Rogue Roni - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 10:08 am:

    Was the compromised system one of Deloitte’s upgrades?


  2. - Omay - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 10:15 am:

    Accomplishment #11.


  3. - Wondering - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 10:15 am:

    Governors own, doing a heck of a job, Rauny.


  4. - Not A Happy Camper - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 10:18 am:

    This is pretty misleading article. I receive a VA pension and have never dealt with the state on it. It is a federal matter. This article is lumping in too many things into a 6 week window of computers being down. Other than burial benefits, these items can all be down at VAC or anywhere else. It doesn’t take the state to process paperwork, just help file it.


  5. - Moe Berg - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 10:23 am:

    Why can’t people get it through their thick heads? The governor is not in charge of the agencies he’s in charge of.


  6. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 10:23 am:

    Seems like this is the third major failure by Rauner’s new Department of Information Technology:

    1. DCFS reporting system down since July.
    2. 30,000 families lose SNAP benefits do to snafu.
    3. Veterans system crashed by DOS attack

    State employees, am I missing anything? How is DIT doing throughout the rest of state government?


  7. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 10:35 am:

    Juvenal- almost every agency has had a debacle. Technology is a tool that must be continually homes and maintained. Technology in government/governing/administering cannot replace government professionals.
    It’s exactly what Rauner tried to do with automation by technology.
    Again all aimed at labor
    Replacement
    It went horribly wrong in every case.
    Government jobs in
    Many if not most cases
    Are too complex for
    Complete replacement
    Modernization yes
    Update yes
    Tackling inefficiency or error Yes yes yes
    Replacement
    Well…….see what happened?


  8. - Annonin' - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 10:39 am:

    Hats off to DoIt for the great accomplishments pilin’ up every day


  9. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 10:43 am:

    I appreciate that, Honeybear.

    But if we want the press to write about it, you need to provide specific examples.

    Got any?


  10. - Steve Polite - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 11:08 am:

    Rumor has it the director clicked on a malicious link.


  11. - Fun Facts - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 11:13 am:

    Some fun facts:

    1. DVA had their own IT shop until this summer, when a staffer opened an email attachment that spread a devastating virus. DoIT Performed disaster recovery and completely revamped processes and procedures. DoIT is now DVA’s IT shop.

    2. DCFS is NOT part DoIT’s IT shop yet. Boom.

    3. Blaming DoIT for problems for which it was in no way responsible is errant, uninformed and wrought with ignorance.


  12. - reddevil1 - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 1:08 pm:

    I real question should be, how several agencies that are “under control” of the governors office are still allowed to have their own IT shops. Not having uniform policies across the board is part of the reason that this issue happened.


  13. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 1:38 pm:

    Juvenal. I only have personal knowledge of the IES system for DHS

    It totally be automated. Add a call center and you’re done
    Close all FCRC’s and layoff employees

    It was already up and running.
    The Broadway (Chicago ) call center was almost exclusively using the new IES system. Total test case working perfectly issuing benefits and making changes.
    Now all apps and verifications should primarily be routed to Springfield. Centralization. Again limiting the local FCRC
    (Family Community Resource Center. aka the Aid office)
    The EIS system incorporates policy into the system
    Caseworkers “certify” cases
    In our legacy systems knowledge of policy and action was with the caseworker. The HSC told the system entirely what to do.
    It is obviously a system designed by. Programmers and policy wonks to cut benefits and make it hard to establish, maintain or restore them.
    Remember Maximus? Then Max IL when AFSCME won the case forcing the employees to all become state workers?
    Yep, pension attacking, worker hating Quinn
    Put this ball in motion.
    Retribution
    Now Rauner kicked it up a notch
    Choosing go live before the holidays
    Having the system cancel tens of thousands of cases
    Roll out, prep and training were all botched
    Our new job duties or “wraps” are insightful too
    Few phone or customer service assignments
    Tons of employment and training assignments
    No TANF specialists,
    A lot of processors
    And in my office only two changes people
    So if I moved, that change gets done in a couple months
    See the set up for failure
    By design?
    Sure seems like it to us.
    There are a hundred other ways

    Rauner again has a crisis
    DHS has a lot of employees
    And offices.

    2018 Rauner will use this worker failure to cut jobs and offices

    IT to replace union workers


  14. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 1:50 pm:

    @Fun Facts

    1) DVA email doesn’t pass through CMS system managed by DoIT?

    2) Are you sure DoIT isn’t responsible for DCFS problems? And if they aren’t, and DCFS crashed 5 months ago, what is taking DoIT so long to step in? Are we waiting for another child death?

    3) Are you admitting that DoIT was responsible for the botched SNAP migration?

    Thanks for your inside perspective!


  15. - Fun Facts - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 2:24 pm:

    @Juvenal:

    1. It does now.
    2. Yep, very sure. I’m not in charge.
    3. Nope. Ever heard of Deloitte?

    Facts is fun things.


  16. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 2:37 pm:

    Good thing Munger made sure the pinstripe patronage IT army got paid before social service providers.


  17. - SouthernGirl - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 3:17 pm:

    The DHS computer system isn’t generating e-rin numbers for individuals to receive behavioral health benefits. There is a new computer system and a huge backlog that goes back to October. As a result behavioral health providers are up to 75 days without being able to bill for services. There is a 90 day limit post service, for when e-rins can be filed so there is a serious risk of providers losing $.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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