California Issues Governors Frist Y2K Report, But True Information Weeks Away : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Some daze, Y2K local news just adds to more of the haze.


Department issues report, but true information weeks away

JENNIFER KERR, Associated Press Writer
Friday, May 21, 1999

(05-21) 01:02 EDT SACRAMENTO (AP) -- The Davis administration has issued its first report on the state's efforts to eradicate the Year 2000 computer bug, three months after the governor made that task a top priority,

However, the 24-page report contains little new information on whether the state's hundreds of computer systems will be ready when the calendar changes to Jan. 1, 2000.

Real data on which state computers will work and which could crash won't be released for several weeks, an aide to Gov. Gray Davis said.

But the administration remained as confident Thursday, 225 days from the crucial date rollover, as it was when the governor said on Feb. 17: ``I believe we'll be prepared at that stroke of midnight.''

``We're very confident that we will complete the work on time, that we will remediate all mission-critical systems or have contingency plans in effect to insure the health and safety of Californians,'' said a Davis aide who released the report on condition his name not be used.

The aide to the Democratic governor said the administration of former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson had allowed state agencies to report their own progress in fixing computer systems, without outside evaluation.

``The administration believes the state could have been much further along than it is had (Wilson) taken a more aggressive approach,'' the Davis aide said.

A spokesman for Wilson did not immediately return an Associated Press call seeking comment.

Davis hired two private high-tech evaluation firms to look at each state department and produce a detailed department assessment and work plan for the rest of the year.

The first five assessments -- for the Transportation, Corrections and Motor Vehicles departments, the Franchise Tax Board and the state's main telephone and communications network -- will be made public in about two weeks, the aide said.

He said the assessments would show the status of crucial systems, such as those that keep bridges and toll booths open, track when prisoners should be released, tally motorists' tickets and accidents, collect state income and business taxes and keep state officials talking to one another.

The Y2K problem is caused by old computer programming that saved space by using only two digits to indicate years. That means 1999 was written in programs as 99. When it becomes 2000, some computers won't know if it's 1900 or 2000 and could either make mistakes or shut down completely.

State computer experts are doing a number of things to fix the problem, including rewriting computer programs and replacing older computer systems and chips.

The report given to state lawmakers Thursday is the quarterly status report for the first three months of 1999. It said that state agencies reported that 415 of the 596 of the computer systems the agencies labeled as ``mission critical,'' or providing essential services, were fixed as of March 31. The previous report, compiled by the Wilson administration, said that 372 of 564 mission critical systems were fixed as of last Dec. 31.

The Davis aide, readily admitting that the report is not very informative, said the administration has been working very hard to fix computers and write contingency plans on what to do if the computers fail.

The report estimated the total state cost of fixing the Year 2000 problem at $357 million. However, that March 31 figure was before Davis' revised budget proposal last week that added $35 million for Y2K work in this fiscal year and another $44 million for the 1999-2000 fiscal year that starts July 1.

Both the Senate and Assembly budget subcommittees approved the additional funds this week, although the Assembly moved the money into the state's emergency reserve.

Assemblyman Dean Florez, D-Fresno, chairman of the budget subcommittee that looked at the state's Y2K efforts, said the state has made a lot of progress in the last three months. He acknowledged that the administration has not provided the public with much information.

``The governor will have to talk to the general public about that, but he doesn't want to alarm folks. It's a weird balance,'' Florez said.

The administration's computer officials have been attending conferences around the state to work with local governments and businesses whose computers connect with state systems.

Five conferences targeting local government and small businesses are planned in the next few weeks. They are May 25 at Dominguez Hills, June 2 in Fresno, June 9 in San Francisco, June 16 in Arcata and June 30 in San Diego.

At a government technology conference near the Capitol last week, Davis' top computer expert gathered hundreds of state computer workers into an auditorium for a pep talk.

``I had hoped we'd be further along in Y2K,'' Elias Cortez, director of the Department of Information Technology, told the state workers. ``The bottom line is I want a sense of urgency.''

-- Diane J. Squire (, May 22, 1999



Then, for a typical perspective on the total California news media disconnect...

Selling Y2K

May 19, 1999 article.cgi?file=/examiner/archive/1999/05/19/EDITORIAL1002.dtl

WE'VE SO FAR kept quiet about this, but, in our opinion, predictions of Y2K disaster are exaggerated, overhyped and more than slightly hysterical. Our sense is that planes won't fall out of the sky, banks won't close their doors and toasters won't fail to deliver toast. But we acknowledge that Y2K horror scenarios have become the first cottage industry of the 21st century, spawning a millennium - or two -worth of news stories, television takeouts and late-night jokes on Leno and Letterman.

We knew we'd reached the top of Y2K mountain, so to speak, when we heard a report that fear of the Y2K bug was having a beneficial effect - on the U.S. economy. Companies motivated to correct Y2K problems, it seems, are taking the initiative to buy all new computer equipment. And you thought the companies that only programmed their software to work through 1999 didn't know what they were doing.

-- Diane J. Squire (, May 22, 1999.

Thanks Diane, I found this comment to be of interest:

"``We're very confident that we will complete the work on time, that we will remediate all mission-critical systems or have contingency plans in effect to insure the health and safety of Californians,'' said a Davis aide who released the report on condition his name not be used. "

Wonder what these contingency plans might be. Why is it nobody wants their name released?


-- Ray (, May 22, 1999.

That occured to me too, Ray.

And my favorite all time IT director's quote is...

``The bottom line is I want a sense of urgency.''

The mind boggles.


-- Diane J. Squire (, May 22, 1999.

Its 5/99 and they are still working on it. The ticking clock is getting louder.

-- RD. ->H (, May 22, 1999.

"Our sense is that ... toasters won't fail to deliver toast."

There's gonna be "toast", but I'm not sure it's the toasters that are gonna be delivering it...

-- a (a@a.a), May 22, 1999.

"Davis' revised budget proposal last week that added $35 million for Y2K work in this fiscal year and another $44 million for the 1999- 2000 fiscal year that starts July 1."

Going to spend an additional $35 million in the next thirty-nine calendar days???????

-- R (, May 23, 1999.

It gets worse! Here's more info on the same report from: SacBee ------------

Cortez acknowledged that there was little new in the report and that some of the data is suspect. But Cortez said he is confident state government will make good on Davis' promise to have all mission- critical systems working properly at the stroke of midnight Dec. 31. --------------

Based on fears that many of those systems would crash in the new millennium, former Gov. Pete Wilson ordered all mission-critical systems to be free of the bug by the end of 1998. By the end of last year, however, only about 65 percent of the state's 600 systems had been declared in compliance.

Cortez said Friday he thinks perhaps 79 percent are in compliance, but he's ordered testing for all systems expanded and made major changes in the way mitigation programs are being operated. Consultants also have been hired to verify whether systems are in compliance, and reporting has been standardized on steps that haven't been completed.

Departments have been given a new deadline of Sept. 1 to have mission- critical systems in compliance, and Cortez said he's optimistic that most will be. The consultants, he continued, are developing an assessment of each department's needs and a work plan for the rest of the year. -----------

-- Greg (, May 23, 1999.

Greg, thanks.

"...staff has taken a fresh look at systems that departments were calling mission-critical. Some systems have been added to the list and others deleted. A system for scheduling judges, for example, was taken off the list."

Had to laugh at that one, given the expected influx of lawsuits next year!

" deadline of Sept.1 to have mission-critical systems in compliance, and Cortez said he's optimistic that most will be."

"Most." What a prophetic term.

It's in wide use across America.


-- Diane J. Squire (, May 23, 1999.

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