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1998-03-09 22:30:53


Why New York Won't Make It: Salaries



This report on New York State shows why the state will not get compliant. It won't pay the programmers what the free market will.

This assumes, of course, that programmers are the solution, rather than experts who can locate bad embedded chips and replace them with . . . what? If they're out of production, they can't be replaced.

Notice the deadline: April 1, 1999. That is the beginning of fiscal 2000. On that day, Canada also rolls into fiscal 2000.

You have a lot less time than you think.

This is from the Albany, TIMES UNION (March 5).

* * * * * * *

New York state will have great difficulty solving all its potential year 2000-related computer problems and will have to spend at least $100 million to fix what it can as the millennium closes in, experts told an Assembly panel Wednesday.

Gary Davis, manager of the 2000 project at the state technology office, said 712 computer programs used by state government could either fail or handle data inaccurately because of the 2000 problem. . . .

The total cost of fixing or replacing all 712 problems will be at least $250 million, Davis said. The administration has earmarked $100 million to solve the biggest problems. Agencies will have to shuffle their own budgets to pay for fixing others. . . .

While the perception is that problems will not start occurring until Jan. 1, 2000, Comptroller H. Carl McCall told a panel of Assembly committee chairmen that serious problems could begin April 1, 1999, when the 1999-2000 fiscal year begins.

McCall said one of the state's biggest problems in fixing its computer programs -- in addition to needing thousands of work hours to examine millions of lines of computer code -- is a lack of computer programmers.

"As of January, 400 of 1,100 state civil service senior computer programming analyst positions were vacant,'' he said. "The position pays from $36,000 to $45,000 a year. At the same time, two-year computer programming graduates from Hudson Valley Community College are commanding starting salaries of $57,000 at local financial institutions.''

Like the state, federal and local systems have major problems to solve. All three levels of government are competing with businesses for skilled computer workers.

While large banks, insurance companies and other companies can afford to pay top dollar for talent, many small businesses may be left without help, several panel members worried. . . .

McCall warned that even if the state's computers are fixed, they could still be upset by flawed data from cities, federal agencies or businesses.


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