E-mail Message: Example of a Non-Mission Critical System

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This is an e-note from someone I trust, who does not wish to be identified.



Subject: Example of a Non-Mission Critical System
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 09:10:15 -0400

I don't want to post this directly because I don't want to risk my husband being identified, so would you vouch for my authenticity and post this? Of course I won't mind if you e-mail me back to verify my ID. (I know you recognize my real e-mail address from prevous correspondence.)

Yesterday, Spouse came home and announced that after dodging the bullet for many months he was hit by a Y2K project. True, we all could survive if this project wasn't done, but I want you to imagine the problems that could result.

Spouse works in state government--a state which is supposedly in the forefront of Y2K readiness. The section he works in is connected to the judicial system. His assignment is to remediate the state supreme court's opinions/decisions subscription system for attorneys, DA's, police chiefs, sheriffs, law schools, libraries, media, etc., plus many out of state entities who have an interest. The system was written in a language now equivalent to cuneiform, its creator long forgotten, and has been patched and baling-wired since its inception by a succession of individuals, most temporary workers on contract, and long gone. Nobody in the section knows anything about the subscription system, except a clerk who knows how to input and delete subscribers.

One would think that the subscriptions are probably renewed on an annual basis, hence why is it only now--eight months into the year--that the project has been deemed worthy of attention? There must have been some indicators by now, like an inability of the system to send out notices (or were they sent by hand?) or to accept new subscriptions with post-2000 dates. Or have they all been rejected as being hopelessly expired? Anyone who has worked for a government bureacracy knows how long it takes for non-pet projects to trickle through the system--the problem could have been reported months and months ago. Spouse didn't know, will find out more today.

But back to the possible chaos. As noted, sure, lack of remediation in this case won't interrupt the power, water or food supply, but look what could happen with the already fragile and unnecessarily complicated judicial system (in any state). Without current Supreme Court opinions, wrong arrests could be made, wrong sentences handed down, and wrong business decisions made which would cost, rather than save, money. And all of these (and other effects not guessed at so far) would result in lawsuits for damages of various kinds against state, county and city agencies, both personal and actual monetary damages.

I reiterate that this state is said to be in the forefront of Y2K remediation. Heaven help the rest of the "non-mission critical systems" wherever they may be located, here or in other states or DC--or in OPEC countries! There's nothing worse than a PO'd attorney, except maybe a PO'd judge!


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), August 31, 1999


Yeah, what difference does it make that a few more people are wrongly arrested? On the other hand, since most court decisions are more and more derogative of our rights, any delay in promulgating them would be a good thing.

-- A (A@AisA.com), August 31, 1999.

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