U still plugging away at Y2K bug

Despite a self-imposed June 30 deadline for implementing Y2K fixes, 29 of 401 critical University systems were not yet compliant by that date.
A report due out late this week is expected to show that about 20 critical systems are still incomplete, said Ken Hanna, University Y2K coordinator.
Systems still vulnerable to the Y2K bug include financial aid, academic records, research grant databases and Law School registration and admissions. Fixing these remaining systems will cost more than $886,000.
However, other vital systems, including payroll and registration, have been fixed, Hanna said.
Most of the incomplete systems are currently in modification or testing stages and are expected to be completed by late August or September, according to the June report.
“The status isn’t where we want it to be,” Hanna said. “But we tried to set an early goal so people had something to work toward.”
Even though the University is behind, a new federal report indicates it might be light-years ahead of other U.S. colleges and universities.
Preliminary results of a Department of Education survey indicate that 46 percent of responding schools had not yet developed a written Y2K plan. In addition, 42 percent did not expect to implement system fixes until after Sept. 30.
These colleges are at high risk for disruptions in federal student financial aid, according to the report, authored by the department’s Inspector General’s Office.
“Significant Y2K-related failures at these entities could disrupt the processing, delivery and administration of grants, loans and work assistance,” the report stated.
Although the Education Department has fixed 13 critical student financial aid systems, students will be unable to get their aid unless their colleges also fix their systems, according to the report. Any awards distributed after Jan. 1, 2000, could be affected.
Currently, about 8 million students receive a total of about $50 billion in federal financial aid.
To ensure that financial aid system fixes work, the Education Department has asked schools to test their systems with the department.
Only 15 schools had done so as of May 21, according to the department’s report. Of those 15 schools, only three passed.
The University was not among the three that passed.
Most of the University’s financial aid systems are expected to be completed by Aug. 31. The system responsible for Pell Grants and several other federal funds is not expected to be completed until Sept. 30.
“The biggest common thread is dependency on vendors,” Hanna said.
For instance, the incomplete financial aid systems are dependent on the August release of a software upgrade by a California company called PeopleSoft.
In addition to the 401 critical systems, however, the University is also working on lower-priority University computing systems that could also cause problems when the clock rolls over.
These systems include computing devices at the physical plant, in departmental software and other embedded computer chips around the University.
College deans are responsible for fixing systems in their own departments.
For the most part, however, the University is doing well in its Y2K preparation, Hanna said.
“My sense is we’re maybe on par with other schools or even a little ahead,” he said. “We like to think we’re a little ahead.”
The Education Department’s results might be because of many smaller colleges and trade schools which have not yet begun work on their Y2K problems, Hanna said.
“It’s a concern and a legitimate concern,” Hanna said. “If they’re totally caught unaware, that could be a big problem.”