well on its way to ringing in the Year 2000 without a systems
glitch Departmental Y2K contingency plans due
computer systems at the University are 100 percent compliant for
operations" in the Year 2000, according to Chip German, director
of ITC policy and planning.
This includes U.Va.'s Health
System, which completed its compliance testing last month,
said Y2K Project Manager Martha Stearns of Medical Center Computing.
Year 2000 computer problems, which the University has been addressing
since 1996, could affect any software or hardware system that
assumes that years are represented with only two digits. Programs
could malfunction if they interpret "00" as 1900 instead
of 2000. Systems that could be affected include everything from
PCs, to elevators, to payroll programs, to machines that administer
medicine or radiation to patients.
At U.Va, all systems unable to correctly process dates beyond
Dec. 31, 1999, have been fixed, upgraded or replaced, German said.
On behalf of the University, President John T. Casteen III will
file a Year 2000 compliance report with the state by the end of
the month, German said.
on their agenda, Y2K teams are preparing University-wide contingency
plans at the "mission-critical" or essential-services
level. Questions about hypothetical situations are being posed,
such as: How would U.Va. provide services if a computer system
failed or if there was no heat or water? Internally, departments
that dispense critical services are developing plans for providing
these services manually in the event of system failure. With external
problems that could affect the University, such as a loss of electricity,
"We would follow plans much the same as are already in place
for disaster drills, which we coordinate with the city and county,"
department or unit within the University is expected to have current
contingency plans and disaster recovery plans that are appropriate
for its work and its employees, Stearns said. Written confirmation
of compliance with this facet of Y2K readiness must be submitted
to her by Nov. 15.
The U.Va. Audit Department will be verifying the presence of these
plans and procedures with units and departments during upcoming
visits. Questions on this matter should be directed to Susan Kirby
in the Audit Department at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or Stearns at email@example.com.
Should emergencies arise, Y2K committees are considering ways
to relay information to employees if normal modes of communication,
such as phone service or TV links, are not available. Departments
should be developing such procedures, too, German said. Facilities
Management has already done this, and ITC is working out the final
details for its employees, he noted.
On the Health System side, Stearns said the hospital is well prepared
in the event of an emergency. Employees here are required to review
mandatory training procedures annually, which include the Health
System's emergency plan. If employees are unable to contact their
departments on Jan. 1, 2000, that should cue them to report to
work, as the Health System would be in emergency plan mode, she
said. Stearns also noted that U.Va.'s hospital is coordinating
efforts with 10 other hospitals in the region to establish radio
communication links in the event of power or service outages.
At the nonessential-services level, departments are planning how
they would conduct business if things they depend on, like computing
networks, utilities or delivery of supplies, aren't available,
German said. And 100 percent compliance at the mission-critical
level doesn't mean that every PC at U.Va. is Y2K compliant, he
added. Departments need to assess their systems and equipment,
deemed non-essential, to ensure that they won't be at risk of
losing data or destroying research. Interim Vice President and
Chief Information Officer Bob Reynolds and Vice President for
Research and Public Service Gene Block are leading efforts in
coordinating information to departments and units.
estimates that about a third of ITC's 200 employees will be working
on New Year's Eve to monitor systems, as will a number of Facilities
Management and other essential U.Va. and Health System employees.
has spent $9.9 million to fund Y2K compliance needs. The total,
which includes the Health System, is much lower than the initial
estimate of $20 million, projected by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
German attributes this to "the good work done initially on
systems built at U.Va., which needed very little adjustment to
make them compliant," and to departments deferring certain
projects to free up staff to work on Y2K matters. "We did
the job largely internally instead of hiring outside contractors,"
When asked if he thought concerns about Y2K are overblown, German
said, "There's no doubt in my mind that there are individuals
stoking people's fears. On the other hand, there was and is a
lot of hard work that needed to be done to address this issue.
Somewhere between apathy and paranoia is the right place to be
in, and it's the position the University has struck.²
employees concerned with how other aspects of Y2K may affect them
-- such as banking or Social Security -- German suggests contacting
that particular agency for details. "Laws were passed requiring
entities to disclose their Y2K compliance." In adhering to
this dictate, businesses and agencies won't be held accountable
for any unforeseen Y2K problems. "So, they're telling the
truth," he said.