Statewide, essential computer systems Y2k-ready (oregon) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Statewide, essential computer systems mostly Y2K-ready

Tuesday, December 7, 1999

By Steve Woodward of The Oregonian staff

Oregon is 100 percent Y2K-ready.

Or at least the 78 systems most essential to running state government are.

The last two stragglers -- the statewide phone network and the prison inmate banking system -- are now certified as Y2K-ready, two months after the original deadline.

The state's chief information officer, Don Mazziotti, made the announcement at a meeting of the Oregon Bankers Association on Monday at the Portland Hilton Hotel.

Statewide systems deemed essential range from systems that track tax collection to drivers' licenses to the lottery. Most high-profile systems, such as the Oregon Health Plan, food stamps and child support enforcement, have been ready since Sept. 1.

Of the state's 89 agencies, boards and commissions, 23 are not Y2K-ready. Most are minor offices, such as the Racing Commission, which run simple, PC-based systems.

Two of the uncertified agencies, however, are major ones: the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Environmental Quality. The contractor hired by Veterans Affairs won't finish its work until next year, Mazziotti said after the bankers meeting. The agency is migrating its systems onto a Y2K-compliant client-server network from the state's General Government Data Center mainframe. DEQ should wrap up minor issues this month.

The state's phone system has been problematic for months. Two years ago, the state decided not to patch the existing system. Instead, it began looking for a vendor to create a system that was not only Y2K-compliant but also digitized to support voice, video and data transmission. AT&T won the contract last November and aimed for completion in August. But when the Portland portion of the network -- about 7,500 dial tones -- went into service in August, problems cropped up at 10 times the expected rate. At that time, the Salem and Eugene portions of the project went on hold until next year.

The state then went to its back-up plan: hardware and software patches that made the original phone system Y2K-compliant. Without the patches, the phones would have experienced episodic failures and malfunctions in 2000. Both the new part and the old parts of the phone system are now ready for the rollover, the state says.

"Strangely, we saved over $3 million," Mazziotti said. The price of the patches had dropped to $500,000 from the $3.5 million price tag the state was quoted two years earlier.

Washington "confident" Washington state has released its final Y2K readiness report.

Gov. Gary Locke said all but one of the state's 43 major agencies had completed work on essential computer systems as of Nov. 1. The Department of Fish and Wildlife was still working on its commercial fish license system.

"I am confident that the worst problems have been prevented," Locke said in the introduction to the report.

The report offers an analysis of Y2K readiness in health care, financial services, electricity, communications, government services, foreign countries, and petroleum and natural gas.

Good to go: banks and credit unions, major electric utilities, Energy Northwest's Nuclear Plant 2 at Hanford, major local phone companies, intrastate pipelines, natural gas companies.

Almost to the finish line: pharmacies, state-licensed pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, long-distance phone companies, water utilities.

Unknown: smaller state agencies, two-year colleges.

Y2K virus A new, destructive Y2K virus has surfaced, virus fighter Symantec Corp. said last week.

Known as W32/Mypics.worm, the malicious software enters Windows-based PCs through an e-mail attachment called "Pics4You.exe."

When the computer is rebooted Jan. 1 or any other day in 2000, the screen will display "CMOS checksum is invalid," prompting the user to believe it is a Y2K problem. After validating the CMOS data, the computer will continue to boot, and the virus will reformat the computer's D: and C: hard drives.

Meanwhile, as soon as the virus infects the PC, it tries to send itself to as many as 50 people listed in the user's Microsoft Outlook address book. It also changes the Home page in Internet Explorer to an adult site. Symantec's advice: Don't open the attachment, and update your anti-virus software.

Slippery target Y2K readiness is a slippery target.

Witness the 1,232 hardware and software product revisions logged in November by Infoliant Corp., a Pittsburgh company that tracks the Y2K status of 45,000 products from more than 775 manufacturers.

Manufacturers of 806 Y2K-ready products posted patches, upgrades and corrective-action plans for those products. In addition, 426 other products changed status, with 336 of them dropping to a less than fully Y2K-ready status.

"That's rather frustrating for those companies that are trying to wrap up remediation projects," said Kevin Weaver, an Infoliant executive.

-- Homer Beanfang (, December 07, 1999


Well, Oregonians there you have it -- rest easy, party hardy for all is well (suddenly, and miraculously).

Just one little things about the government systems status bothers me. "I am confident that the worst problems have been prevented," Locke said in the introduction to the report.

Hmmm, what do you suppose he would have expected as the "worst case" scenario for those systems? How much better than "worst case" is he really expecting? Does he have any way to know? This would indeed be amusing if not so pathetic.

-- TA (, December 07, 1999.

Such a glowing report - but they aren't really done in either state ..... if you read the words, and worse, many of these are finishing very late - it's now after Dec 01 - they won't even be able to get a single month's cycle through before rollover.

Again - mission critical triage is fine, if you are accurate and complete. It is the right starting point, but there can be flaws in exchanging data.

In other states, other cities, failures have occurred in the two-three months after replacement of older systems as users try to get trained and accustomed to the new way of doing things.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, December 07, 1999.

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