Year 2000 Flaw Hits Court Clerk's Officegreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
Article at: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/daily/detail/0,1136,26500000000105847,00.html
A glitch in the Palm Beach County Clerk of Circuit Court computer network is causing mortgage, deed and other files to disappear from the system's index, the clerk's office said on Friday. The problem was making it impossible for local title companies and other investigators to conduct their business. Technicians were working around the clock to identify and repair the problem, and expect to have it solved soon, said Linda Scarlett, chief deputy clerk in Clerk Dorothy Wilken's office. In the meantime, those who rely on the records are left to wonder when the system again willbe fully functional, and whether records already used by telemarketers, banks and others were accurate. "The main problem is that everyone in the title industry, real estate and anyone who uses the computers is affected by this," said Janie Campbell, owner of Costal Title & Research Services. "It might be two months or two years from now that somebody says, 'Where did you get this?' " The clerk's office in November spent $194,000 to upgrade its computer indexing equipment, replacing a black and white character-based system with a Windows-type network. Customers used the new system daily until nearly two weeks ago when a researcher complained about a file that was not appearing on the network index. Employees investigated and found the problem spread beyond that file. Technicians were called in after the Jan. 11 discovery, and the records division shut down public viewing Jan. 12 and Jan. 13. Operators continue to enter data into the system while experts try to fix the index problem. Documents have not vanished, Scarlett said, just the computer's listing of them. Clerk's employees have corrected 642 listings so far, and technicians are setting the system to automatically repair other errors, she said. Until a resolution is found, it is impossible to say how many listings are missing. Only files entered or altered since November are subject to the glitch. "We know their business depends on us having a reliable system, and when we didn't have an immediate solution, we felt they should know," Scarlett said. "We're absolutely committed to maintaining the quality and accuracy of our records and we're doing whatever is possible to restore that. Unfortunately, it's not in our control." Businesses depending on the information worry that real estate and other transactions already may have been made using inaccurate listings. Others, like Donna M. Perez, are anxious for the system to get back to full speed. Normally, records appear electronically within a day of being filed, but the glitch has slowed production. As of Friday, it was stalled at 10 days behind. For Perez, who makes more than half of her income from selling information daily to telemarketers, a day with no data means a day with no pay. "I get paid on delivery," said Perez, who runs her own document and information service. "I don't deliver, I don't get paid."
-- Antoine Neron (email@example.com), January 26, 2000