Assessment of EVIDENCE suggests failure curve increasing now.. : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Some new stuff comming in now.. Followed some new links over at De Jaegers bug bytes. Ian Hugo summed it up nicely

Link here

here's a snippet;

"The Evidence

At this point I need to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to UK Government Departments and the media. The former (and other infrastructure bodies) seem kindly determined to prove my predictions correct and the latter have been assiduous in reporting the resultant failures. The reported evidence to date comes from reported incidents at John Radcliffe Hospital, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, London Electricity, National Air Traffic Control Systems (NATS), Dept for Social Security (DSS), the Inland Revenue and the Passport Agency. There are more but we'll leave that aside for the moment. All the examples below are from the UK and there is similar evidence available on the Internet from the USA, although not (yet) from other countries, which is something I'll also comment on later.

Briefly, John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford failed in a PABX replacement (for Y2K reasons) and the failure resulted in loss of telephone communications for 9 hours as reported in the Daily Express. In fact, the failure appears to have resulted in loss of full facilities for over 24 hours and caused a neighboring hospital to be put on alert.

The Maritime Agency had problems with replacement of its Adas (data acquisition) system which resulted in some minor disruption over a couple of weeks.

London Electricity attempted to replace some thousands of key-controlled meters because they wouldn't have been able to record price changes beyond the end of this year. The new keys didn't work (cut off supply) resulting initially in some 2000 users being disconnected. The last I heard was that the replacement program had been temporarily aborted whilst thumbs were stuck in mouths (or in the air).

NATS proposed to resort to manual operation for a 2-hour period in order to get some compliant replacement equipment installed. This produced some consternation amongst Members of Parliament because (a) the replacement was scheduled at a peak traffic period and (b) they had been led to believe that NATS systems were already compliant. The replacement reportedly failed, leading to more thumb-sucking no doubt.

I've highlighted the Inland Revenue Y2K program as high risk in my last three assessments of UK central Government readiness (the last is viewable at because of replacement programs scheduled late this year. The first of these (Infrastructure 2000), previously due for completion in September and now for November, is already hitting problems. The Bradford Midland Tax Office has apologized to various companies for threatening to send in bailiffs to collect amounts supposedly due but which had already been paid. The problem was that failures attributed to the Infrastructure 2000 project (to replace 50,000+ desktops, 30,000 of which were classified as critical) prevented staff from accessing current information.

The DSS has failed in implementation of a replacement National Insurance Contributions system, which currently has some 1500 faults in it (low by Microsoft standards?) according to a report to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, and has resulted in miscalculation of benefits to some 350,000 people, of which 70,000 cases remained to be cleared as at the beginning of August.

Finally, the Passport Agency is dealing with a reported backlog of some hundreds of thousands of applications for passports, in part because of a failed implementation of a new passport issuing system (PASS) to replace a previous and non-compliant one (PIMIS).

Reconciliation of Predictions and Evidence

All these cases, all reported in the mass media, tend to support my earlier conclusion that replacement of systems was likely to produce the most significant cause of disruption in the Year 2000 context. In effect, that is simply recognition of the fact that, in this context, the remedy is about as dangerous as the disease.

I think there are a few important points to highlight. The first is that nothing blew up and nobody got killed. Moreover, in all of the above cases other than that of the Passport Agency (and arguably the Inland Revenue), there has been and is unlikely to be any long-term mess. These are cases of local and containable, albeit inconvenient and embarrassing, administrative "hiccups." That much was in my original prognostications.

The more interesting cases are the Passport Agency and possibly the Inland Revenue. The Passport Agency is a long-term mess. It results from failure to adequately implement a new passport issuing system overlapping with a second impact: new Government legislation on passports resulting in a large and sudden increase in demand. It is the coincidence in time of the two impacts that has produced the longer-term disruption, as predicted in my paper.

At the moment, the Inland Revenue case is producing only minor and locally containable disruption. However, three further replacement projects are scheduled for completion in October and November and, should failure in any these overlap with continuing disruption from the Infrastructure 2000 project, we could well see longer-term disruption here also.

Unreported Cases

Cases of Y2K failures resulting in disruption that get reported in the media must be the tip of the iceberg. Common sense dictates that that must be so. I, with limited knowledge of individual organizations, know of two further cases that I cannot name in which internal disruption is occurring and has necessitated resort to manual operation of processes. In both cases, the situation is unrecoverable before financial year-end and whether the results become public or not will depend very much on the attitude of the organizations' auditors. I cannot believe these are isolated cases."

-- Slammer (Slammer@Slamma.Ramma), August 26, 1999


Nice find Slammer. A behind the scenes view of what is really going on.

-- kevin (, August 26, 1999.

Are you implying that there is no cure for thumb sucking ?

-- no talking please (, August 26, 1999.

I don't quite see how the new passport office, National Insurance and air traffic systems can be considered part of any "y2k failure curve". As he says in the article, the new passport system was put in at the same time as a change in legislation (and it coincided with the summer when of course more people want passports). Result: chaos. The new air traffic control system at Swanwick has been getting more and more behind schedule for years. It's never worked. The National Insurance system (built by Andersen Consulting, not Microsoft) is a big new complicated system which doesn't work. But these have never worked properly, so can they be considered "y2k failures"? London Ambulance Service got a new computerised despatching system back in '92 which failed miserably (had to be thrown away). No doubt if the same thing happened now people would say "ahh, yes, a point on the y2k curve". There are other ongoing public sector computer fiascos which owe more to managerial incompetence than to bad dates. The Home Office's processing of political asylum applications is even more badly screwed than the passport office. Why? Because they bought a big new system just before a change in legislation, moved into new buildings, dumped all the old paper files into storage and only *then* decided to see if the new system worked. Which of course it didn't. Big new computer systems rarely do (just ask the folks at Denver airport). I'm sure some things will fail in 2000, but these big UK govt screwups aren't a part of any failure curve.

-- disgruntled UK taxpayer (abcd@efgh.ijk), August 26, 1999.

Absolutely Y2K failures.. Even media reported. Failure because of implementation to deal with Y2K is still categorized as failure. Although not categorized as a Y2K date logic failure, the cause of these (shall we say pre-mature) implementations was Y2K so thier is an indirect relationship. Hence Ian's comment about the cure being as deadly as the disease. The failures were aggrevated by the dynamic environment they were introduced into. That would probably mean they didn't stress test and/or integration test the systems.

-- Slammer (Slammer@Slamma.Ramma), August 27, 1999.

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