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1998-05-12 14:53:05


Why They Can't Go Back to Pen and Ink Systems



A spokesman from the Customs Department testified to a subcommittee of the House Ways & Means Committee. He made it clear why large organizations cannot revert back to paper and ink. It takes too much manpower.

The media's party line on y2k is that big outfits will make it; small ones won't. The opposite is true. Small outfits that can revert back to pen and ink, or to simple PC systems. The Macintosh is compliant, if the software was written for the Mac.

He says that Customs is almost compliant. That promise will be relatively easy to verify next October. We will see if the Ways & Means Committee will follow through on this promise.

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Statement of Vincette L. Goerl Assistant Commissioner, Office of Finance and Chief Financial Officer U.S. Customs Service

Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Oversight of the House Committee on Ways and Means

Hearing on the Year 2000 Computer Problem

May 7, 1998

Good morning, Madam Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee. I am pleased to be here today and present Customs approach to managing the Year 2000 renovation efforts, the status of our efforts and how our efforts will affect Customs major program areas. . . .

To ensure that Customs pursues its mission effectively and efficiently, three mission critical systems are used. . . .

Within Customs, nearly 21 million lines of code must be reviewed as a part of the Y2K efforts for these mission critical systems. Without renovation to these systems, collections after December 31, 1999, cannot be deposited for any previous dates; alerts, lookouts and intelligence would be lost; and payments to creditors and employees would be delayed or incorrect. Y2K non-IT efforts require among many things that 340 LANs and 19,000 personal computers be brought into compliance, and for laboratory equipment to be tested and upgraded as necessary. . . .

Most of the payments to and from Customs are automated. Filers transmit payment authorization electronically. The payer's account is debited and the Customs account is credited with the amount due, requiring no paper payments and no cashiers. Additionally, Customs clearinghouse bank automatically provides debit information to the payer's (trade community) bank. To revert to manual processing of checks would adversely impact not only cash flow to Customs but would result in an overwhelming increase in labor costs for both Customs and the payer's banks to process the millions of checks generated daily. The accuracy and timeliness of payment data would also be impacted.

Other Government Agencies

Other Government Agencies interface with Customs computer systems and would experience problems should Customs not be Year 2000 compliant. . . .

Our biggest challenge will be ensuring that personal computers and LANS located in over 1500 locations are compliant, either through modification or replacement

Customs is on schedule to meet target dates established by the Y2K Program plans. Of the 21 million lines of code associated with mission critical systems, to date 88 percent have been renovated, 60 percent have been tested and 37 percent are in production. By October 1, 1998, all mission critical and non mission critical systems are to be in production to allow for a full fiscal year of operation before the year 2000. By March 31, 1999, all non-IT systems (telecommunications, building equipment, etc.) are to be in production.


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