County prepares for Y2K

April 15, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

The Washington County government is prepared to deal with any potential Year 2000 problems, a county government committee and a county spokesman say.

A committee composed of representatives from all county departments has been preparing for the possibility of Y2K problems.

The Y2K bug is a programming glitch that, come Jan. 1, could cause computers to think the Year 2000 is really 1900.

"We do not expect major problems to occur but all this preparation is taking place because you can't really forecast that," said Norman Bassett, the Washington County public information officer.

"We aren't saying there won't be glitches. No matter how much preparation we do, there will be glitches," said Bassett.

The county will pay for Year 2000-compliant software and hardware, including new accounting and payroll programs. Estimated cost of purchase and implementation is $1.5 million.


All county government computers and software have been examined to see if they are likely to have problems, according to committee reports.

The county has sent letters to the more than 2,000 vendors with which it does business, requiring them to make sure their hardware and software are Y2K compliant.

Money will be available if needed to correct an emergency situation, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said. There is a $100,000 contingency fund in the county's proposed fiscal 2000 budget.

All county buildings have emergency generators that are not date-sensitive, Bassett said. The county has established communication systems, such as mobile radio units, that will work even if the computers are not operating properly, Bassett said.

"We are taking every step we can possibly take and we are looking at mission-critical employees working through the weekend, if possible, and we are advising personnel not to plan vacation time during the last two months of 1999," Bassett said.

All department heads and division chiefs are among the approximately 65 employees considered "mission critical," he said.

The county has signed an agreement with Hagerstown Community College to conduct community information sessions about Y2K.

The college will hold community forums on the issue every six weeks for the rest of the year. The first of the free programs will be held Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Kepler Theater at HCC.

The programs will include 45-minute sessions on utilities, food resources, communications, finance, transportation, health care, government and public service.

Reservations can be made by calling 301-790-2800, ext. 265, or by sending e-mail to

  • Year 2000 information session
  • Saturday
  • 9:30 a.m.
  • Kepler Theater, Hagerstown Community College
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