computer conversion is bugging Northampton county's court : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Northampton County Court of Common Pleas

Computer conversion is bugging Northampton County's courts

System has been going down during process, making some records inaccessible.


By TOM DAVIS Of The Morning Call

Brand-new computer software is bugging Northampton County's courts.

The civil and criminal record departments are experiencing difficulty converting to a new computer system.

Court Administrator James Onembo said the county has had difficulty downloading data into the system, including thousands of courthouse records dating back 20 years.

''It's a conversion from the main frame to a PC-based software,'' Onembo said, referring to the county's 22-yearold main frame computer.

County officials said the computers have, at times, not been operating while the conversion takes place, preventing the courts, the sheriff's office and the public from obtaining records.

''The lawyers are not happy about it,'' said Gerald Seyfried, director of court services. ''They used to come in ... and sit for a few minutes. Now they sit there an hour.''

Onembo said the old system is antiquated and isn't Y2K-compatible. The new software provided by Progressive Solutions Inc. of Utah will allow court employees to use Microsoft Windows technology.

But the switchover has taken at least a year. Onembo said he hoped to ''go live'' last summer and successfully transfer the records from the main frame to the software.

Onembo said the conversion is typically automated but the process has been too slow.

He said the volumes of information have had difficulty ''fitting into'' the new software.

''The majority of [criminal] cases have been manually input in an effort to ensure that the conversion took place,'' he said. ''There's been dedicated staff working countless hours to do this.''

Seyfried said he may ask the county to hire six to 10 part-time employees to help with the conversion.

Onembo said the courts have not manually input civil division records because they're not subject to the same time constraints and demand as criminal information.

Onembo said there also are bugs in the system that could hold up running the new criminal-record programs for at least a month.

He said the civil records' conversion should be completed within a week, but he's worried that bugs could hold up that process, too.

''It's taking more time than we had anticipated,'' he said.

Northampton County officials said the National Center for State Courts, a clearinghouse for court systems, helped select PSI about two years ago to provide the computer software.

Onembo said PSI appeared to have the resources necessary to install software in a timely manner.

But PSI wasn't able to provide enough programmers and troubleshooters to help the courts implement the new system quickly.

Efforts to obtain comment from the company were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Jerry Judge, systems manager for the county's computer consultant, said this is PSI's first Pennsylvania system. He said the company hasn't had problems elsewhere.

''It's just some rough waters,'' he said of the conversion process, which Seyfried said has cost at least $100,000.

''The system does provide a lot more information than before and better management statistics.''

-- Homer Beanfang (, January 14, 2000


Oh,oh, if the lawyers are unhappy, look out!!!

-- Carl Jenkins (, January 14, 2000.

This doesn't surprise me. What does pleasently surprise me is why this isn't more widespread? Especially those overseas. How did everybody else got the job done?

-- Larry (, January 14, 2000.

From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr (pic), near Monterey, California

Anything that ties up the lawyers can't be all bad.

-- Dancr (addy.available@my.webpage), January 14, 2000.

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