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In his Friday the 13th coronavirus press conference in which the president shook the hands of several guest CEOs, President Trump announced that his administration would soon create a website to help Americans throughout the country access COVID-19 tests; designed by Google, it would be “unlike websites of the past.” Despite the apparent dig at the rollout of healthcare.gov, Google soon confirmed that Trump’s description of the project was way off mark: It was being developed by a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, would only be accessible in San Francisco, and would not be ready as early as Trump predicted. (Nearly a month later, test shortages persist throughout the country, to say nothing of the significant delays caused by testing companies’ backlogs, which number in the tens of thousands.)
Now, the Trump administration is facing its own IT issues: On Monday, the
Small Business Administration’s E-Tran loan processing platform was down for up to four hours, as lenders rushed to process loans for business owners.
While Bloomberg reported that several banks were not able to register in that time period, larger problems still exist in the program: Though Amazon Web Services was brought in last week to provide cloud-computing infrastructure to help get the project up and running, it is still not finished. According to Politico, lenders were also being required to provide loan documentation they were previously told the wouldn’t have to provide, and that the process for accounting for payroll costs was still unclear.
Payroll is a major question to be left hanging at this point, considering that the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program was designed to inject money into small businesses so that they wouldn’t have to fire employees during the economic crisis. But other concerns persist as well: Senator Marco Rubio, chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, has expressed concerns that some firms could be excluded from the program if they do not have lending relationships already established with banks. Rubio’s committee has also calculated that funding for the program could run out before the end of June.