A2LL – 2004
A mistake fillong zeros at wrong position in acount numbers

A2LL is the abbreviation of the German social services and unemployment software system "Arbeitslosengeld II – Leistungen zum Lebensunterhalt" (Unemployment money II - subsistence payments). This eGovernment process was to help combine unemployment insurance and welfare.

On December 23, 2004, the system had 2.6 million households registered and the FINAS booking system was prepared to send out 1.3 billion euros to accounts across the nation on January 1.

The first major error was found during the first payment - account numbers which were shorter than the standard 10 digits were filled up with zeros on the end instead of the beginning (i.e., 1234567 became 1234567000 instead of the correct 0001234567). The banks could not process the payments and thus had to be credited to fragment accounts until they could be sorted out. Due to the massive number of mistakes, the banks had to invest much effort into locating the owners, and the government had to issue emergency cash so that people could buy food.

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As a quick fix the system switched to printing checks (not normally used in German financial transactions), but since the field for the street name chosen was too small, many of the checks could not be delivered to the intended recipients.

Even six months after the start of the system, there were many needed features of the system that could not be used. For example, neither an analysis of variance nor a list of persons who had received too much money could be printed. The printing of documents was not flexible enough to fit many local situations. New legal rules for deducting current income from small jobs could not be completed in time for the official start of the system on October 1, 2005.

In July 2005 it was discovered that the system could not cope with one-time payments, for example so that schoolchildren could purchase books; consequently, this feature was disabled entirely. A few days later it was discovered that the system was not registering people properly with their insurance companies, causing enormous administrative headaches for the insurance providers.