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Summary and Comments

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1997-07-30 10:22:29


Australian Tax Collector Says He Doesn't Know



The tax collector in New South Wales has admitted that he just doesn't know what will happen to the economy or anything else in 2000. It is clear that he knows he has a problem. He is responsible for collecting $10b (aus.) a year.

* * * * * * * * * *

What I have learnt is how much I still don't know!  We have done a high level -- and I stress only a high level -- analysis and it is already clear that we have some of the issues to deal with along the lines of those I have just touched on.  I do know that a number of our systems seem to recognise the year 2000 issue in their programming logic but these have been worked over to enhance or maintain functionality so often that, at this stage, I have no real confidence we will be able to escape the work and cost entailed in bringing them to a state of readiness for the turn of the century.

I know that there is even inconsistency in the way in which programs have been written within individual systems.

I know that January 2, 2000, will be a good day to stay away or, at least, to check the weather and take an umbrella, unless I do something to fix up our building security access system.

I don't know whether our trading partners within government are ready.

I don't know whether all our software suppliers can guarantee their products.

I do know that because of these gaps in my knowledge I need to take action - probably yesterday - to scope the potential business impacts of the problem and to decide what action must be taken to ensure business continuity.  I am not yet even in a position to set priorities for remedial action.  Yet, as I said, my IT Director tells me that I need to have it completed by early 1999 at the latest and probably as soon as June, 1998. . . .

I don't think my Office is much different from many others in the public or private sectors in terms of business interactions or the state of its systems. My assumption, then, is that those who have not undertaken a detailed analysis yet cannot know if their businesses will still be fully operational after January 1, 2000.


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