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Major Windows Crash Hits U.K. Agency

A widespread crash of Windows desktop systems threw the United Kingdom's Department of Work and Pensions into disarray for several days last week.

According to the BBC, about 80 percent of DWP's network crashed on Monday, and technical experts from Microsoft and EDS worked around the clock to find the problem.

By Friday, DWP Secretary Alan Johnson told the BBC it was back to "business as usual" for pensioners.

DWP officials acknowledged that 80,000 employees were not able to process new pensions and benefits claims for several days. During that time the agency would normally receive 60,000 new claims. Staff were forced to communicate by fax because the e-mail system was down. However, DWP officials said that regular payments were unaffected by the crisis.

Mark Serwotka of the Public and Commercial Services Union called the crash possibly the biggest in public sector history. Serwotka said the crash shows the DWP is "gambling with front line services" with plans to cut more than 1,000 civil servant jobs and effectively replace them with computerization.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.