What is your Township doing to combat Y2K?

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I've been lurking for some time via my brother. And, like most of you, I'm preparing and wondering what will happen. But I recently read, in a freebie issue of a local paper, an item that literally sent me hiding under the bed covers... how many other small townships are this far behind??? My sorry comments, which are interwoven in the news report, are in brackets.

Newspaper report from our local freebie.

Firm hired for $10,000!

Consultants will probe potential city Y2K status

A consulting firm will be paid $10,000 to investigate potential y2k problems in ******** *******. The finance committee unanimously approved the motion on Tuesday Advanced Research Associates of St. Louis, which specializes in information systems development and y2k issues, will assist in the FIRST phase of a two phase project...

"They will bring in a team of experts," said Ward 2 Alderman R.

The city is already experiencing computer problems in the treasurer's office, a primary concern to R. He said the system has a bug, there are problems closing the books.

The fiscal year runs from May 1 to April 30 and will cross over into the millennium.

"This could cause the computer to inaccurately read date fields and produce erroneous results," R said.

R said the first phase of the y2k plan is to determine what the city's overall plan is. It will include meetings with the consulting firm that will show the city what areas are suspect to problems. He said the first phase would not cost the city more than $10,000.

< WHAT???????????????????>

The time line for Phase 1 is about two weeks, R said. He urged the committee to move quickly on this problem.

"This is a crisis situation," said R. "I am doing the best job I can with the available resources while trying to keep the total project costs as low as possible. I can't sit by the sidelines and let something bad happen to my community."

Phase 2 is a remediation plan and involves the setup of an NT server and four personal computers. R reminded the committee that this is an interim fix to the problem. The new system will have an expected useful life of nine to 12 months until the city can migrate to one of the other long term solutions they have investigated. The cost of Phase 2 is undetermined at this time.

Hope I didn't waste your time. Thought all of you might be interested in seeing what a small township is doing to combat the y2k problem.

Back to lurker mode....


-- James D. Wagener (hypermo@apci.net), March 03, 1999


I'm sure the town elders (or alders, or whatever they are) are concerned about the accounting system, the ability to collect taxes, etc. But from your perspective, there are a few things that are much more pressing and urgent:

1. What is the situation with the local utility company? If they have to shut off power to selected portions of the town, where are the boundaries? Are you in the section where the hospital is located (good news), or in the poor section where there aren't as many voters to complain?

2. Ditto with water supply.

3. Ditto with sewage.

4. What's the status of the 911 emergency communications system?

5. Ditto with the police cars

6. Ditto with the fire engines

7. Does the town plan to stockpile gas/oil to ensure that their will be fuel for the police cars and fire engines, as well as the ability to provide generator power to critical facilities?

8. If power goes out in the town, will there be emergency shelters -- e.g., in the local schools?

9. Does the town have a list of elderly and sickly residents who may be to be transported to safe havens if there are disruptions?

10. Do all of the town's firemen/women and policemen/women also belong to the local National Guard unit, in which case they may be pulled out of town by the Governor of your state, or by FEMA (the debate is apparently still raging as to who will be allowed to make that decision).

Do you get the drift of these questions? Forget about the billing systems and accounting systems for now -- the town elders may be focusing on that, but you and your neighbors need to focus on the life- and-death issues.


-- Ed Yourdon (ed@yourdon.com), March 03, 1999.

One thing's for certain, you don't get any more than you pay for. Maybe the town's problem is small. A relative of mine (who is a DGI) told me last night that his small company's accounting program locked up recently because of y2k. He said the accountants had to finish everything by hand and then install a brand new software system. I didn't ask him the cost, but I doubt it was more than a few thousand dollars. Apparently it did not take but a few days to get things back to normal. So for him, evidence of failure ended up being evidence of a minimal threat and strangely strengthened his DGI beliefs. It may be that your town's problem is not a big problem.

-- Puddintame (dit@dot.com), March 03, 1999.

James: I live in a town of 2500 more or less. Last week on the front page of our weekly paper, they addressed y2k. They interviewed just about every aspect of business and public sector operation. Our local hospital was honest and said they were doing their best to work out the bugs. Nowhere was our provider of electric power mentioned nor transportation of everything we need and use. The town I live close to is Seward ,Alaska, so you can imagine if the "bumps in the road" start up it will be the coldest time of the year. ..Good Luck..Dennis

-- Dennis S. (souza@ptialaska.net), March 03, 1999.

James, I agree wholeheartedly with all of Ed Yourdon's comments above and I hope my post didn't come across as advice to focus on accounting systems. Some small towns have contracted out much of their utility services and emergency services, so if you're in a very small town you may need to do a little research to find out what the responsibility of the various local governing bodies are. If you start asking pointed questions as Ed suggests, you'll pretty quickly find out what falls where.

-- Puddintame (dit@dot.com), March 03, 1999.

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