Alabama state agencies rush toward Y2K compliance : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

-- Linkmeister (, November 02, 1999


[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

State agencies rush toward Y2K compliance


News staff writer


MONTGOMERY  Critical computer systems at all of the state's major agencies should be tested and ready before the ball drops on New Year's Eve, Alabama's Y2K coordinator said Monday.

But state emergency man agement officials will be on alert starting at noon Dec. 31 to handle any problems - whether they're connected to state government or not.

"From an emergency preparedness standpoint, I think we're well- prepared," said Lee Helms at the state Department of Emergency Management.

With less than 60 days until the new year, Helms' agency is one of the few key state departments that has declared all of its critical systems Y2K-ready.

He said the agency began upgrading its equipment years ago in anticipation of the year 2000 computer problem.

Other state agencies, however, have been playing catch up as time ticks down toward 2000. Indeed, two federal reports issued in September put Alabama among the states less prepared for the calendar switch.

In May, less than a third of the state's critical systems were Y2K compliant. The ominous figures helped prompt legislators to approve bills that provided up to $50 millennium bug projects, said Ben Patterson, the state's point man on Y2K. Much of the money has gone to agencies that provide key benefits or services, such as the state Finance Department, the Department of Human Resources and the Department of Corrections.

Today, 82 percent of the state's critical systems are Y2K ready, according to the state's Y2K Web site.

Carrie Kurlander, spokeswoman for Gov. Don Siegelman, said agencies are working feverishly to get their systems Y2K compliant. "It's going to be close," she said.

On the other hand, she said, there are many departments that have almost completed the task.

The state Department of Mental Health, for example, was 95 percent compliant as of last month, while the state Department of Economic and Community Affairs was 99 percent compliant. The state retirement system, which pays pension benefits, was 96 percent compliant.

Patterson said many agency chiefs have had to make up for time lost during former Gov. Fob James' administration. He said the state is actually further along than he expected.

"We feel like a new quarterback put into the game in the fourth quarter and we're two or three touchdowns behind," Patterson said. He said no state agency is warning that it will fall short of getting its critical systems compliant before Dec. 31. Contingency plans

Patterson said all state agencies are also in the final stages of developing detailed contingency plans, just in case things unexpectedly go wrong.

At Medicaid, for instance, officials plan to send out letters in December to all of the agency's clients, confirming that they're eligible for benefits through January. Medicaid pays health costs for more than 630,000 poor and elderly Alabamians.

The situation at dozens of smaller state offices - many of them under the control of independent boards - is less clear, since many of them haven't reported their progress on the Internet.

Patterson said many small agencies needed only to upgrade one software package, or buy a couple of new computers. In general, he said, most small agencies are in good shape.

The state plans to set up a special telephone line for anyone who experiences Y2K-related problems, Patterson said. His office will publicize the number closer to year's end.

Helms said his agency has been meeting regularly with other department officials, law enforcement, utility company representatives and emergency personnel in advance of the new year.

He said officials from all major state agencies will be at the state's Emergency Operations Center in Clanton on Dec. 31 to tackle any problems. Representatives from the state's utility providers and the American Red Cross also will be on hand.

County emergency officials, too, will standing by on New Year's Eve, Helms said. He said local police agencies also are planning to have extra staff on duty. He said officials will be ready to open emergency shelters if they're needed.

"Of course, we don't know what's going to happen. But we will be fully activated," he said.


-- Linkmeister (, November 02, 1999.


-- Dog Gone (, November 02, 1999.

There's also this brief item in the news. Does the mayor know about the state's late start? v/rs/19991102/al/index_1.html#7


Gadsden Mayor Sets Y2K Forum - (GADSDEN) -- Gadsden Mayor Steve Means wants everyone with a question about the "Y2K bug" to show up for a meeting at Convention Hall next Thursday afternoon. Means wants to reassure residents that the mysterious computer malady does not mean the end of civilization as we know it and that the city is ready for the New Year.


-- Linkmeister (, November 02, 1999.

<In May, less than a third of the state's critical systems were Y2K compliant. The ominous figures helped prompt legislators to approve bills that provided up to $50 millennium bug projects>

You know - there are some things that money just can't buy. Remediation in this short time-frame is one of them. They need to spend all that money on contingency planning.

-- Cheryl (, November 02, 1999.

Well, remember, this is Alabama. Start with what little the state government actually does (lowest taxes in the US). Subtract out the wrongheaded stuff we'd be better off without. Of what remains, subtract out the stuff done so poorly it hardly matters. Not much remains to be remediated, and the few who'd really miss it are the big rich landowners who run the state anyway.

Alabama is *already* toast.

-- Flint (, November 02, 1999.

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