Localities follow different tracks to Y2K repairs

May 09, 1999|By BRENDAN KIRBY

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Government officials throughout Franklin County say they have worked hard to prevent date-related computer failures that may come with the new year, but differences in size and resources have dictated slightly different approaches.

Following is a look at how much progress different counties have made toward fixing the so-called year 2000 computer problem.

- Franklin County

Franklin County Administrator John Hart said the county has hired RBA Professional Data Systems Inc., of State College, Pa., to test all of its personal computers and software systems. It is paying the firm $4,800 to test the systems, plus additional fees for whatever repairs are needed.

RBA also will examine the operating systems that run on the computers, Hart said.

Hart said the county is spending about $470,000 to install new systems that control payroll, budgeting, human resources information and other functions. It is an upgrade the county planned anyway, but Hart said it has the added bonus of correcting Y2K problems.


Some of those systems will be installed in mid-May, while the rest will be in place by June, Hart said.

In addition to the computer systems, Hart said Franklin County has inventoried all of its equipment that has embedded computer chips that may fail when the year 2000 arrives.

- Chambersburg

The town started its Y2K work in earnest last August, said Assistant Borough Manager David Finch.

Each department manager has been responsible for assessing problems and devising solutions. Their progress is reviewed monthly.

Finch said work remains in the electric and waste water treatment plants.

Finch said contingency plans from each department are due this month.

Finch said the town will stock up on extra supplies and devise strategies for coping with systems that may malfunction.

The borough's electric department, for instance, buys virtually all of its power wholesale from Allegheny Power and then distributes it to its customers. But if Allegheny Power goes down, Chambersburg has the capability of generating small amounts of its own electricity.

The borough likely would distribute power to different parts of the town on a rolling basis to make sure its residents have some heat, Finch said.

- Greencastle

Borough Manager Ken Myers said an examination of the borough's police department, administrative offices and waste water treatment plant all revealed some Y2K-related problems.

About $20,000 worth of upgrades to fix the problems should be completed in about 60 days.

Much of the analysis has shown that Y2K problems would harm record-keeping functions or other operations - but not shut down vital systems.

Myers said the town is confident its suppliers and other companies that do business with the town have their own Y2K problems under control.

"We don't really think there are going to be any major outside problems, unless there is a problem with the power company," he said.

Myers said town employees will be ready to handle unforeseen problems on New Year's Day, but he added that the borough has no formal contingency plan.

- Waynesboro

The town has spent about $25,000 so far on Y2K problems, said Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger.

New computer systems that manage payroll, billing and other administrative functions will be installed in mid-July, he said.

Hamberger said Waynesboro also will buy new software replace systems at the water plant in July or August.

"The experts have been there. They know what needs to be done," he said.

Hamberger said the town benefits from the fact that some of its systems predate computerization. Most of the traffic lights, for example, do not have computer chips.

Hamberger said most of the computerized functions can be run manually if necessary. And there are backup plans for the unexpected.

"If a traffic light fails, you put up a stop sign and go from there," he said.

- Washington Township Manager Mike Christopher said his government has spent about $19,000 to install a new information management system to handle government functions like payroll.

The hardware, which will be installed in June, is compatible with software the township already had, Christopher said.

The township's police department upgraded equipment last year, Christopher said.

Christopher said the township is working with emergency management officials in case of Y2K problems. But he said he anticipates no problems with systems the township owns.

"We believe the steps we have taken have put us to a point where we don't need (formal contingency plans)," he said.

- Antrim Township Administrator Ben Thomas Jr. said the government replaced its information management system about a year and a half ago for about $25,000.

The system needed to be updated anyway but it had the added bonus of being Y2K-compliant, Thomas said. The same is true of new equipment that is scheduled to be installed at the township's sewer department.

related story:

-- Experts say local governments overconfident on Y2K

The Herald-Mail Articles