Saturday, February 11, 2006

DB Entry & Design Error Causes $8M County Shortfall

Ind. House Wrongly Valued at $400 Million:

The following story emphasises the need for proper database normalization, data entry validation, and security. My guess is that the county uses an AS400, they started implementing offsite live access as a revenue source, and never bothered to ensure their current implementation could handle it. A problem like this wouldn't have occurred if they had properly implemented their DB, security, and had reviewed their data.

A home in Valparaiso, Indiana saw its tax valuation jump from $121,900 in 2005 to $400,000,000 in 2006. The auditor is blaming an outside user. (Why does an outside user have edit permission on the data? If this happened by accident, image what someone could do if they wanted to hack the DB and really screw things up.)

It appears that someone caught the error when tax assessments were printed and noticed the home's tax increase from $1,500 to $8,000,000. However when the data entry mistake was corrected the error wasn't corrected in all places within the database. As a result, 2006 tax rates and budgets were calculated using the erroneous $8,000,000 as expected revenue. Now the county is scrambling to cut spending. (How unnormalized is their DB that you would need to enter the same value twice?! It must be an AS400 if they haven't corrected that simple normalization problem over all these years.)

Porter County, Indiana - website


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