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1998-05-14 23:11:39


Virginia Agencies Threatened by Y2K, Falling Behind



All the happy-face talk about getting things ready for testing by December 31, 1998, is fading fast in the Virginis state government. A lot of agencies and programs are facing a disaster.

This is from PILOT ONLINE NEWS (May 14).

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RICHMOND -- Vital state agencies that oversee everything from prisons to pensions to Medicaid have fallen so far behind on fixing ``Year 2000'' computer problems that state officials have labeled them ``high risk.''

Compounding the problem, lawmakers haven't budgeted enough for even conservative cost estimates for the massive repair effort.

Those were the gloomy conclusions of a discussion Wednesday between the Joint Commission on Technology and Science and Bette H. Dillehay, director of the state's Century Date Change Initiative Project. . . .

Officials for some of the agencies labeled ``high risk'' say the tag is either unfair or untrue.

The Department of Corrections was labeled as such, but officials there say they expect to finish correcting problems in March 1999. . . .

The Virginia Retirement System also was cited. But officials there were just as adamant, saying their vital function -- issuing pension checks -- isn't in danger. ``There is no chance people will not get a check after Jan. 1, 2000,'' spokesman Bill Sullivan said. . . .

According to reports posted on the state's Year 2000 Internet site:

The Virginia Workers Compensation Commission hasn't completed its assessment of Y2K problems nor developed plans to fix them.

Christopher Newport University has fallen behind schedule because of staffing problems, and has made little progress since December.

The Dept. of Environmental Quality has made no progress on its most critical computer system since January.

The vendor repairing the Medicaid Management Information System at the Department of Medical Assistance Services hasn't reported any progress, hasn't responded to some of DMAS' requests and hasn't delivered promised items on time. The vendor got a late start because it had to take over a job begun by another vendor, a spokesman said.

The Department of Military Affairs hasn't made fixing the problem a high priority, and has no formal plan or organizational structure for dealing with it.

Making that task more difficult in state government is a potential shortage of cash allocated to deal with ``Y2K,'' as it's sometimes called. While lawmakers allocated $68 million for the next two years, top officials concede the true cost will likely be between $83 million and $140 million. . . .

Legislators have recognized the legal risk: They passed a law this year giving the state and its contractors immunity from lawsuits over mishaps arising from the problem.

For example, if someone doesn't get a welfare check for months, falls behind on rent and is evicted, that individual won't get a day in court.


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