County Examines Computer Crash [Omaha, NE] : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread,3153,262595,00.html

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The accounting system used by Douglas County and the City of Omaha was expected to be up and working today after crashing Sunday when new Y2K-compliant applications were switched from the testing to the production mode.

Mike Carpenter, director of information services, said the problem was not related to the Y2K conversion, but to the transfer of programs and data. Carpenter had expected the computer system to be working by late Tuesday afternoon, but it wasn't.

County Clerk Tom Cavanaugh and County Treasurer Julie Haney, both primary users of the system for the county, described the problem as a crisis. They said information services did not notify their offices of the problem.

Cavanaugh asked the County Board on Tuesday to place the matter on the agenda as an emergency item for discussion.

Commissioner Kyle Hutchings, chairman of the county's finance committee, asked Carpenter to supply daily updates on the status of the system to the County Board.

Cavanaugh's office uses the system to write payroll checks, checks to vendors and to make payments on bonds and to the Internal Revenue Service.

"We're 24 days from the new year," Cavanaugh said. "This is not a good sign. There is a deep concern a crisis does exist."

Haney's office uses the system to disburse the taxes that have been collected for the more than 150 political subdivisions in the county.

"This is a huge deal," Haney said. "Mr. Carpenter made this sound like a minor glitch. This is no minor glitch."

The city's finance department and the county's purchasing department also have had problems with the system.

Staff in Cavanaugh's and Haney's offices have lost time on work that needs to be done. They say if the accounting system is not functioning, they will have to make other plans.

Cavanaugh is prepared, if necessary, to arrange for the manual entry of all checks for the county payroll and to pay vendors. The first week of the new year is a pay period for the county.

On Tuesday, the commissioners approved 2,044 checks for a $2.6 million county payroll. They also approved 639 checks to vendors totaling $1.2 million.

Next Tuesday is the County Board's last scheduled meeting until Jan. 11. At that time, a resolution is to be passed authorizing Cavanaugh to pay all bills in the commissioners' absence. If the system is not working properly, however, Cavanaugh said, he will consult with the county attorney to decline that responsibility.

Cavanaugh said his contingency plan to make sure the county's bills are paid includes canceling staff vacations, requiring overtime and hiring at least six temporary employees to assist the 25 full-time staff in his office.

Haney said that if the system is not running today, she would instruct staff to inform the subdivisions that tax payments may be delayed.

The payments are made on or before the 15th of each month. Haney was not able to say what the amount of the tax disbursements would be for December because they vary each month.

Hutchings said that if Haney's and Cavanaugh's offices are not back online today, he would contact each commissioner to see what action to take. Hutchings said his concerns are whether the system will run until the end of the year.

The 11-year-old accounting system was the last computer system to be upgraded for the year 2000. Earlier this year, a consultant described the system as inflexible and not user-friendly. He recommended replacing the system.

The county and city, along with the Omaha-Douglas Public Building Commission, share in the use of the system. All three entities have contracted with the Government Finance Officers Association as a consultant on financial information technology to develop a plan to purchase a new accounting system.

-- Steve (, December 09, 1999


I believe the snowball has started rolling downhill...

-- citizen (, December 09, 1999.

I wonder how many companies have also installed and tested new compliant software, and won't discover that they are in deep sh*t until they try to migrate the data!

ps. I wonder how long it will take them to handwrite 2,044 checks for payroll + 639 checks for vendors........

-- formerly (formerly@nowhere.zzz), December 09, 1999.

Oh, we'll see a heck of a lot more of this type of thing for the next few months.....this is the tip of the iceberg.

It won't be TEOTWAWKI as any reasonably thinking person can see. However it will be messy and embarrasing for a lot of companies and will even put a few out of business.

-- Craig (, December 09, 1999.

" ... We're 24 days from the new year ... This is not a good sign. There is a deep concern a crisis does exist ... "This is a huge deal ... Mr. Carpenter made this sound like a minor glitch. This is no minor glitch."

whispers of the Coming Collective Scream

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, December 09, 1999.

Did anyone else notice that this appears in the Omaha World-Herald, the same newspaper that sanitized a y2k-related story a couple of months ago, when the Nebraska State Police lost all records of their outstanding misdemeanor warrants? That too was related to a y2k fix, rather than the bug itself, but the story was rewritten between editions to remove all refernece to y2k. Anyone know if the same thing happened this time?

-- Cash (, December 09, 1999.

Question is: which snowball/avalanche/iceberg is this the tip of?

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, December 09, 1999.

In one sense this is really funny. The New Year celebration is going to be a bust because so many people have to work or be on call. We'll have to save the celebration until Jan 2001. Look at how many processes are going to be done manually and of course every single law enforcement person in the entire U.S. is going to be on duty, etc, etc, etc + all those people that don't want to leave there home in case something does happen which leaves fewer people at all the giant parties and celebrations. "Millenium bash postponed till near year." is what the headlines will read.

-- Guy Daley (, December 09, 1999.

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