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Databases

I'm fascinated bydatabases; the theory and implementation behind them. (I guess I'm not an exciting guy.)

I've always wondered about the database(s) used by the U.S. federal government:

- How big is the database(s) that holds, say, the population registry?
- What are the fields?
- Are they a bitch  to update?
- What kind of computers store the information?
- How old is this technology?

Does anyone have any knowledge, or links to information  covering the topics (or simlar to those) above?

Thanks.

Chi Lambda
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The fat man walks alone... Repeat, the fat man walks alone.

...
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Yeah, I want to know too. What system out there is storing my social security number?

Nimoy's Bilbo
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I think you are really overestimating the organizational abilities of our bureacrats (sp?).

After seeing government in action, I'd say that bits and pieces of your information are stored everywhere, and some of it might be consistent.

It's probably stored in every type of db ever created.  Everything from tab delimited files on up.

Steve Barbour
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I'm sure steve is right. In any large beaurocratic organization, it's common that the right hand has no clue what the left hand is doing.

I heard that the employee records at a certain company that shall go unnamed (some of you know what company) are kept in an excel spreadsheet... the division i worked for had 4,000 employees... 4,000 employees in an excel spreadsheet. I'm sure Joel would he happy about this, but doesn't that strike you as a bit odd?

In any case, when the gov't needs something done, they probably contract it out. When another branch of the gov't, even if it's a few degrees over, wants something done, they probably also contract it out... to a different company.

The result: Instant legacy systems that they can spend millions integrating years from now.

www.marktaw.com
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I can't speak to federal, but I work in state government.  Its a hodge-podge of Oracle for big stuff, SQL 2000 for mid and Access for small.  Division of labor uses some ancient mainframe, which they're writing some Web services for at the moment. 

I know of at least one large Army DB that runs on Oracle.  I'm not a DB expert, but most of the tables I saw looked pretty well normalized, etc.

I was slightly shocked at the additude towards security (at least at State level).  Mostly, it was put a firewall up and call it a day.

Lee
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The highest concentration of DB2 licenses is in and around Washington D.C..  Additionally, one of the growing markets for mainframes is D.C.. 

So I can't tell you what the fields look like, but I can tell you its probably on version 6 (a bit old but still supported, we're running 5 still) of DB2 residing on a mainframe.  Two of the beefiest databases you're ever likely to hear about sits on some big IBM boxen over at the Social Security Administration and at the IRS.  Now that's some data being pushed around (and stored, yikes!  Did someone say DASD?).

Louis Brothers
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Department of Defense and in the UK (Defence) databases relating to spares used to use MDBS Network databases amongst other stuff, I've no idea what they use now.

Hmmm I wonder if that's an Official Secret.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

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