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1998-05-01 17:01:24


Gaps in Testing Threaten Retailing, Expert Warns



A representatve of the National Retail Federation has warned that the failure of public utilities to test their y2k repairs threatens retailing.

This is from COMPUTERWORLD (April 30). [Registration required.]

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Gaps in year 2000 testing -- or no audits at all -- create the potential for system failures. And that risk spurred a National Retail Federation (NRF) official to issue a warning earlier this week about possible power outages, dead phone lines and banks that can't process employee payroll. He made the comments during a session held at the NRF's Supply Chain & Operations Management Conference in Austin, Texas.

Washington-based NRF bills itself as the world's largest retail trade association; Donald M. Gilbert, its senior vice president of information technology, is acting as the retail industry's year 2000 early-warning system. He and his staff are tracking year 2000 preparations among industries and agencies that support retailers, including the electrical, telecommunications and banking industries; local port authorities; and the U.S. Customs office. . . .

Regarding the telecommunications industry, Gilbert told the panel that his research found that local exchange carriers aren't conducting "interoperability or interaction testing" with long-distance carriers, Internet service providers, competitive access providers or other telecommunications networks. . . .

Gilbert said that electric utilities don't plan to conduct a nationwide test of the U.S. electric grid, and that raises the risk of failure, particularly for rural electric cooperatives. The NRF wants to find out where outages are likely to occur, so that members can plan ahead for potential problems.

State-chartered banks are another industry segment that the NRF is watching carefully. Although government regulators are auditing year 2000 efforts at large banks, they aren't required to do this for state-chartered banks. These banks haven't been as aggressive as their larger brethren in attacking the millennium bug, Gilbert said. He is advising NRF members to look at these banks closely, particularly if they handle payroll chores.


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