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1998-05-14 21:57:49


California Will Be Ready: 12/31/98, Says the State



No big problem, says the state of California. They'll be ready for testing on December 31, 1998.

Except for embedded chips.

What happens to public confidence on Jan. 2, 1999, when they (and everyone else) have missed the deadline? Probably nothing. Nobody cares.

But they will. One big failure that cannot be covered up, and the panic will begin.

This is from the SAN JOSE MERCURY (May 14).

* * * * * * *

SACRAMENTO (AP) -- Major computer systems that do everything from collecting state taxes to tracking inmate sentences will be ready when the calendar flips to Jan. 1, 2000, state bureaucrats insist.

However, lots of lesser systems are questionable, from the electric fences around prisons to scientific equipment in public health labs.

Three legislative committees held their latest hearing Wednesday on state government's readiness for the computer problems expected in 2000. . . .

John Thomas Flynn of the Department of Information Technology, which oversees the state's Year 2000 efforts, said 650 of the state's 3,000 computer systems are identified as ``mission critical.'' That means there would be serious problems if they failed. The state has concentrated on fixing those first.

He said 30 percent of them have been fixed and 15 percent are in the final testing phase. The rest are being modified or replaced.

He said almost all of them will meet Gov. Pete Wilson's fix-it goal of Dec. 31, 1998, one year before the critical date. Others will be finished during 1999, he said.

``We feel, all things considered, that we're making extraordinary progress and we hope to continue to do so,'' Flynn said.

However, other computer systems considered less important could have problems, such as those with ``embedded chips,'' which are internal devices that run equipment with clocks. Those include elevators, security systems and medical equipment.

Flynn's department hopes to have information by July on all state departments' plans for fixing embedded chips.

For example, Jack Corrie of the Department of Corrections said the major prison systems that track inmates, decide when they should be released and schedule guard assignments should be fixed by the end of this year.

``I'm optimistic, but guarded,'' he said.

He and his staff have just started working on the embedded chip problem. They have picked one prison as a test and are going through its systems.

``The electric fence is going to be a problem,'' he said. ``If the fence went down, we know we can staff the towers. We believe we have a plan in place to protect the public.''


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