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1997-11-17 17:20:14


Social Security: Lines of Uncorrected Code Just Doubled


For the Social Security system, it's back to the drawing board. They thought they had 30 million lines of code to go through and repair. Actually, according to COMPUTERWORLD (Nov. 17), it's 34 million lines.

Then, in late 1996, they discovered an additional 33 million lines in 54 state-administered Social Security programs. They are disability programs: well-named, as it turns out. This fact was only recently called to Congress's attention by the General Accounting Office. So, Social Security, which had received an "A" from Congressman Stephen Horn as the most advanced Federal agency for y2k repairs, turns out to be as messed up as the others. Well, maybe not as messed up as the FAA and the Treasury Department, but messed up nonetheless.

They have no contingency plans for a y2k failure. The article reported: "The SSA said it hadn't developed them because it felt its early start on the year 2000 problem would make those plans unnecessary. And in another Alice-in-Wonderland explanation, it also said it hadn't developed backup plans because it simply had to meet the deadline. In other words, if you aren't allowed to fail, you won't fail."

Social Security had been claiming 80% compliance. It took them since 1991 to achieve this. But now the amount of code they -- or somebody -- must correct is twice as large as they had believed. Now, at best, they are 80% compliant with half of their code.

SSA exchanges 6,700 data fields with other organizations, the COMPUTERWORLD article reported. This raises the problem of noncompliant imported data.

Where is the good news on y2k? Where are the reports of near-compliance that anyone can trust?

And still, well-informed people refuse to believe. "Someone's working on this." "Bill Gates has a secret solution." "It'll be fixed on time."

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