UK passports: New system, Y2K compliant, is failing. : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

From today's London Telegraph. Typical failure. Expect many thousand (million ?) more problems like this.


THE Millennium bug is at the root of the Passport Agency's struggle to issue thousands of passports.

Taskforce 2000, an independent Millennium bug watchdog, uncovered the problem, believed to be the first high-profile computer failure caused by the inability of many computers to process dates occurring beyond the end of this year to come to light. Ian Hugo, assistant director of Taskforce 2000, said: "We have been warning that it will be the cumulative effect of several factors rather than a single event that will cause a Millennium bug failure. This is now proof of those predictions."

In the case of the Passport Agency, a combination of new requirements for children to carry passports and the seasonal increase in renewal requests were exacerbated by the Agency's attempts to replace its old non-Millennium compliant system. In all but two offices, staff have been forced to continue to use the old system called PIMIS, parts of which do not correctly process dates beyond Dec 31, 1999.

Other staff have attempted to use the new PASS, Millennium bug-compliant, system provided by Siemens, which is neither completely operational nor fully tested, according to the most recent Cabinet Office survey. Last night, Siemens said it had been agreed in November last year that the project would be confined to Liverpool and Newport until the end of the holiday season. It said: "It is misleading to suggest that the delays experienced by the public are primarily caused by failures in IT systems. It is clear that the application demand has exceeded Home Office forecasts."

A joint report published in April by Taskforce 2000 and the National Computing Centre highlighted the Passport Agency's vulnerability to a Millennium bug failure. It predicted a possible breakdown in public services due to a "process of attrition". In March, the Passport Agency told the Cabinet Office that one of its systems called the Main Index - a central register of all British passports - was affected by the Millennium bug.

Last month, the Agency said that it considered the Main Index to be "mission-critical". Mr Hugo said: "They said in March that they had halted introducing the new system but would be ready by June. In June, the situation was no better. Something quite clearly is wrong."

Robin Guenier, executive director of Taskforce 2000, said: "This Millennium bug threat will grow through the rest of this year and beyond and could affect all parts of the public sector, including essential services."

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, July 01, 1999


The UK Passport office (HQ Petty France London) has always been a shambles with a backlog each year for applications, though this year they have surpassed themselves, surely it can't be that difficult to devise a new system for the issuance of Passports

-- dick of the dale (, July 01, 1999.

panic queues anger starting Queue Chaos

-- lines forming (around@corner.miles), July 01, 1999. .right_frame?p_story=86153

Y2K: Government to blame for passport "chaos"

by Paul Rubens

The government is to blame for the long delays in processing passport applications because changes in legislation have complicated the Passport Agency's millennium bug preparations, according to Taskforce 2000.

Robin Guenier, executive director of the independent millennium watchdog, said Taskforce 2000 warned the government last year not to change legislation affecting computer systems until after millennium bug work has been completed.

Yet last Autumn passport requirements for children were tightened at the same time as a new millennium proof computer system was being introduced to replace the old, non compliant system, he said.

"The normal management approach," said Guenier, "would be to put off the implementation of the new system until after the busy passport application period, but of course in this case they can't because they have to put it in by the end of the year."

"The fact that that the Passport Agency has to replace its non compliant systems under pressure of time and additional requirements has caused chaos. Government must learn this lesson. It must remove the burden of additional regulation whilst providing the public sector with resources and the expertise to fix the year 2000 problem. Further chaos awaits if it fails," he said.

The Home Office denied the delays in processing passports are connected with the millennium bug. A spokeswoman said the new legislation had put greater demands on the system than had been foreseen. She said the Passport Agency estimated last year that the additional workload placed on it by the new legislation would account for 20 per cent of all applications, while the figure has turned out to be closer than 30 per cent in recent weeks.

Another spokeswoman attributed the delays to implementation problems. "The problems with the passport system are not related to the millennium bug. There is no evidence to suggest there will be millennium bug failures in the old or new Passport Agency systems," she said.

But Guenier said the Passport Agency admitted in March and June in formal statements to the Cabinet Office that the old computer system is not millennium compliant and the new system is intended to replace it.

A spokeswoman for Siemens Business Services, the Germany based computer company supplying the Passport Agency system, refused to elaborate on the company's official statement that, "the application demand has exceeded Home Office forecasts."

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) 1999 VNU Business Publications Ltd

-- regular (zzz@z.z), July 01, 1999.

In Texas, in May, the system that issues driver's licenses crapped out and issued everybody the same number. It made the local news, but not the paper or the web. I got in on the last part of the report, so I missed the actual reason for the failure, but it was Y2K.

They did go to manual until it was "fixed", I believe.

-- lisa (, July 01, 1999.

more Y2K evidence, computers toasting Computer Fiascos

" ... new computer system at the Immigration and Nationality Department, where there has been even greater chaos than at the Passport Agency ... " more

-- they're fried (uncontainable@glitches.muck), July 01, 1999.

Take a mission-critical system. Plan and initiate a Y2K project on it. Add (by legislative decree) additional required system functionality. Fail to properly forecast required capacity.

Whaddya get? Massive queues, angry people, completely screwed-up travel plans, loss of business, and calls for British cabinet ministers to resign.

Other than that, the project is going quite well...

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), July 01, 1999.

Sounds like the recipe for the IRS to me...

DIE bloodsucking Gestapo pigs!!!!

(think I should tell you how I REALLY feel???)


-- Dennis (, July 01, 1999.

Oh boy I'm in trouble,

I just had my UK passport stolen in Denver and it's been a nightmare getting a temp permit just to get out of the USA for a vacation, now it seems I'll be lining up for a day or more when I get there just to get back. What a shambles, Petty France always was, this comes as no surprise at all.

Shades of things to come...

-- Andy (, July 01, 1999.

This must be catching the Y2K attention of the Brits. Will they see the lines and prepare?

-- blueblood (royalty@nose.high), July 01, 1999.

Andy, is Denver handled by LA or Houston? I know Houston's area of responsibility was expanded and includes quite a bit of the West. If not, do you know anyone in NM, OK, TX, LA, etc., whose address you could "borrow"? I know someone in Houston who might be able to help.

-- Old Git (, July 01, 1999.

And this is very much along the lines of what Infomagic has predicted with his famous "Charlotte's Web" analogy. More frequent failures as we approach 2000, gradually overloading our ability to cope with them, until finally things go supernova next year.

-- Jack (, July 01, 1999.

Almost forgot--see also the following earlier thread where you'll find two BBC reports about the passport computer problem:

-- Old Git (, July 01, 1999.

Interesting to note the government is denying (now that the actual process has failed) the same fact that they admitted before when the schedule crunch was not an immediate peril.

Seems the Brit's have learned the Clinton legacy = facts are not important, only impressions. If any previously admitted facts are embarressing, just change the facts to meet the needs of latest person talking publicly.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, July 02, 1999.

Thanks Old Git,

in the end I eang around - initially they insisted I fly to Houston to get a temp. passport IN PERSON - absolutely crazy as it was going to cost me $550 + cab fares to do it, eventually found a friendly voice in Chicago who let me get a temp. permit by fed ex, thank god gor that. So I'm allset - thanks for the contact Old Git - always good to know people :)

As for the passport in the UK, my parents are Irish so I'm going to go to the Irish Embassy where there are no lines, Petty France can shove their "system"... :)


-- Andy (, July 02, 1999.

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