County eradicates it's Y2k bugs (except for jail) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


County eradicates its Y2K bugs

ByVictoria Pierce copley STAFF WRITER

On New Year's Eve, David Gillette knows where he's going to be celebrating the turn of the century.

He'll be carefully monitoring Will County's computer systems from the basement of the county office building in downtown Joliet.

"It will not be a normal New Year's Eve. But I don't expect the disasters that some people do," said Gillette, Will County's director of management information systems.

Gillette's department has been testing the various systems in all of the county's departments for the past few weeks. The latest test was done Monday on the county payroll system. County employees will be happy to know that system passed the Y2K compliance test.

Everything from marriage licenses to health department accounting software has been tested and found to be in compliance.

When the process started in January, a list of more than 200 potential problems were identified. It has now been whittled down to 15 tasks which include switching the traffic court system over from the county main frame to a separate system only for court data. A few offices also have some personal computers or software that still need to be tested and/or upgraded.

One of the tasks that is expected to go down to the wire in December is the new locking system at the adult detention center. Security at the jail

The existing system is 10 years old and the software and computers are not Y2K compliant or easy to upgrade. A bid for a new system has been awarded, but it is not expected to be completed until the middle of December, Gillette said.

Even if the new system is not up and running by the turn of the new year, Will County Deputy Chief Bob Brown said the jail will still be secure. However, corrections officers will need to use keys instead of locking doors and cells from a central panel in the pods.

That appears to be worst case scenario at this time, Gillette said.

By the time everything is paid for over the next few years, he estimated that the Y2K upgrades will have cost the county about $3 million. However, he noted that many of those upgrades would have been done anyway. But because of the Y2K issue the systems changes were made sooner rather than later.

Gillette said he expects to have some of his staff come in Jan. 1 to do some quick checks to make sure everything is operating properly, but at this point he isn't expecting any problems.

However, Gillette is still awaiting the final reports from consultants hired to handle the "imbedded chips" that can be found in everything from time clocks to heating and air conditioning systems. The preliminary report indicates that there are 196 areas where problems could exist.

The consultant has been researching and contacting manufacturers to see which systems, if any, are not able to make the switch from 1999 to 2000. That report is expected any day. Confidence in Grundy

In Grundy County, county administrator Fred Bourdelais said he also feels confident that the county systems are ready for Y2K.

Some new software has been purchased and the computers responsible for tax bills were replaced. The only imbedded chip problem found in Grundy County was in the system that detected a problem with air conditioning.

Bourdelais said he didn't think that would be an issue since air conditioning isn't usually running in the middle of winter anyway.

"I'm not expecting anything, other than a perceived panic," Bourdelais said.

Besides, he added, if computers do end up going haywire because they can't compute the 00 instead of a 99 then there will be 17 hours notice as the New Year starts turning around the world.

"Nobody's really going to know until the date rolls over," Bourdelais said. Just in case there are problems, Gillette is keeping a careful record of each step his office took in testing and upgrading the Will County systems.

So far, he has 11 volumes. By year's end, he expects to have 15.


-- Homer Beanfang (, September 24, 1999

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