DOD scripts revision to date code management plan

“Read it. Do it. Report
Curtis said.

The Defense Department has drafted a new Year 2000 Management Plan to give systems
managers more detailed guidance on fixing date codes.

Defense in April 1997 issued its first version of the Year 2000 Management Plan, which
contained broad guidance on prioritizing systems with date code flaws. A draft second
version with more specifics was issued late last month by William Curtis, DOD’s
special assistant for year 2000, DOD officials said.

The department revised the plan to better define criteria and processes for
prioritizing systems, to formalize guidance on identification and documentation of
interfaces, to establish common testing conditions and dates for year 2000 readiness, and
to list guidelines for writing contingency plans, Curtis said.

“This plan provides the best guidance available to deal with the Y2K
problem,” he noted in the forward to the plan. “It suggests a
centralized-planning, decentralized-execution approach.”

A centralized and decentralized approach can be challenging, Curtis said. “It is
easy to get lost in the decentralized execution part and miss the overall need for
enterprise integration,” he said.

His advice to DOD agencies was simple. “This plan provides you the tools to be an
active participant,” Curtis said. “Read it. Do it. Report back.”

Despite Curtis’ terse language, DOD’s Year 2000 Management Plan is not
binding. The plan, for instance, includes a year 2000 checklist for certifying systems but
does not require the services and Defense agencies to use it.

The first plan formalized DOD’s date code strategy and listed the steps to fixing
date code. It included target completion dates, cost estimations and a 2000-readiness

The new plan gives advice on reallocating resources to fix date codes.

It also recommends that the services and DOD agencies perform risk assessments and
develop contingency plans for mission-critical systems that ensure the well-being of DOD
personnel. Employees should make contingency plans for systems that won’t be ready by
March or are more than two months behind schedule, the plan said.

A General Accounting Office report released in late April took issue with the original
plan and said it lacked bureaucratic muscle. The report, Defense Computers: Year 2000
Computer Problems Threaten DOD Operations, concluded that DOD had been unable to enforce
established requirements.

“While Defense’s management plan suggested that components revise their cost
estimates as more reliable information becomes available, it has not ensured that
components are doing so,” GAO said.

Educated guess

To estimate the cost of its date code work, DOD had been using a formula developed by
the Gartner Group Inc. The Stamford, Conn., consulting company said it would cost DOD $8
per line of code to fix weapons systems and $1.10 per line to fix other systems.

The new plan lays out figures that Mitre Corp. of Bedford, Mass., recently released
based on a representative sampling of DOD source code:

GAO’s April report also found that components have been slow in responding to
another part of DOD’s management plans.

“While the April 1997 management plan directed components to prepare written
agreements with their interface partners, Defense has not provided guidance to its
components on what the content of interface agreements should be,” GAO said.

DOD posted the plan on the Web at

Stay Connected

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.