Computer glitches come early at Bucks County courthouse (PA) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Computer glitches come early at Bucks County Courthouse

Despite Y2K preparations at Board of Assessment, small typing error causes big hassle.


By HAL MARCOVITZ Of The Morning Call

If the so-called ''Y2K bug'' crashes computers around the world, it's supposed to happen Jan. 1.

But in the Bucks County Courthouse, the bug has already caused the bureaucracy to hit some road bumps, even though all the computers seem to be working. Last month, a clerk in the Bucks County Board of Assessment typed in the wrong date while recording an assessment change on a property in Upper Black Eddy. The change in assessment occurred Sept. 1, 1999, but the clerk instead typed Sept. 1, 0999.

The clerk immediately caught the error but was unable to make the correction. Because of a security feature on the computer program, the date would have to be changed by the county's information technology department.

So Nov. 16, Barbara J. Krantz, office manager for the Assessment Board, sent a memo to information technology asking for the mistake to be fixed. Eight days later, Krantz received a response: The mistake would be corrected, but not until Feb. 29.

Also, the memo from information technology said it would take 16 hours to change the date.

''Sixteen hours to change one digit?'' Krantz said this week. ''I just think that's ludicrous.''

Not so, said Heinz K. Heiduk, assistant director of information technology. He said it will take as much as three months for information technology to get around to changing the digit because the department is still under the gun trying to make sure the Y2K bug doesn't crash courthouse computers in a few weeks.

''We're right in the middle of Y2K,'' he said. ''Our primary objective right now is to complete that.''

In theory, computers would crash Jan. 1, 2000, because they aren't programmed to recognize 2000 as a date, and instead they willthink the year is 1900. Heiduk said the county's information technology staff started fixing Y2K problems in 1995 and is nearly finished. Ironically, the last computers in the courthouse that are be ing tested for Y2K compliance are in the Board of Assessment.

Heiduk said he has no idea why it would take 16 hours to fix a single date in a property transfer record -- even though it was Heiduk who signed the Nov. 24 memo to Krantz.

He said a separate program might have to be written to fix the error.

''It might be one date, but it affects many files,'' he said. ''It's not just like changing a street address.''

Heiduk insisted that information technology has been keeping up with its work this year, and that the pressures of dealing with Y2K have not resulted in other computer glitches slowing the course of government. He said his department has addressed 194 computer problems in the county government this year that have had nothing to do with Y2K.

-- Homer Beanfang (, December 09, 1999


This one is weird!

Lessee, started in 1995 ... today ''We're right in the middle of Y2K''

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

Typical.....been there, seen that.

This is typical.....repeated how many thousand times affecting how many million records for how long?

But, there won't be any economic impact....nope, none at all. Again, a local government failure.

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

''Sixteen hours to change one digit?'' Krantz said this week. ''I just think that's ludicrous.''

She sounds like a polly to me.

-- Larry (, December 09, 1999.

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