Data migration is a major problem

Data migration is a major problem for executives at the Child Support Agency

One of the biggest problems facing executives at the Child Support Agency is that there are hundreds of thousands of cases on an old system waiting to be transferred.

The aim is to transfer cases to the new CS2 system which operates under new rules that simplify the calculation of payments.

Staff at the CSA were expecting to transfer the cases soon after the replacement technology was introduced in March 2003. But the transfer has been repeatedly delayed and there is still no final date.

Software to help facilitate a bulk migration of cases has been only partially delivered, and a key piece of software seems unlikely to be ready for implementation this year.

But the report on the CSA revealed that it is not only technology that prevents cases being transferred. Many records in the old system contained information which was outdated, incorrect, inappropriate for transfer or held corrupt data.

"The majority of staff were concerned about the prospect of mass migration of cases. In one focus group they talked about a resultant mass walk-out and early retirement. Only one person in this group thought the migration could work, and then only providing the cases were 'clean'."

Managers too were worried about mass migration. They were aware of a number of problems when cases moved over including "jumbled records, cases being suspended, confusion over payments and changes to identification codes".

One participant said there was a danger records could be transferred "in the most appalling state with outstanding work." The report found that many completed cases are permanently held on the system and that the migration would cause them to re-open.

"This has the potential to bring the whole system to a grinding halt if all cases are to be moved."

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