Defense rethinks Y2K strategy

The Defense Department admits it isn’t fixing date code quickly enough, according
to its latest quarterly report to the Office of Management and Budget.


DOD systems aren’t being repaired fast enough to meet the department’s own
deadlines, deputy Defense secretary John Hamre told OMB Director Jacob Lew in a letter
Aug. 17.


The number of Priority One, mission-critical systems has increased dramatically since
DOD’s last quarterly report to OMB in May, the report said. Priority One systems are
those that won’t be fixed by March 1999.


In the August report, the number of mission-critical systems scheduled for
implementation jumped from 34 to 69 systems. The report said work on 51 systems is at
least two months behind schedule, up from nine systems in the last report.


DOD’s list of mission-critical systems increased from 2,803 systems in May to
3,135 systems last month. The Army and Navy increased their mission-critical lists by 150
systems each, which accounted for most of the growth, the report said.


Defense Secretary William Cohen last month threatened to impose a software development
moratorium in 1999 if the services and Defense agencies don’t pick up the pace.


“We will take a hard look at progress in November and December,” Cohen said
in an Aug. 7 memo to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, services and DOD agencies. “If we are
still lagging behind, all further modification to software, except those needed for Y2K
remediation, will be prohibited after Jan. 1, 1999.”


Of 3,135 mission-critical systems, 2,965 are active systems, the report said. The
department has eliminated at least 117 systems and replaced 53. Of the 2,075
mission-critical systems requiring remediation, 554 systems are fixed and
implemented—which leaves 1,521 mission-critical systems in various phases of
remediation, the report said.


“As DOD examines its systems within the context of mission and readiness impacts,
the number of mission-critical systems is expected to change,” the report said.


Defense’s estimate of its year 2000 cost remains unchanged at almost $2 billion.
The Air Force estimates it will spend $625 million, the Navy and Marine Corps expect to
spend almost $444 million and the Army plans to spend $316 million.


Although the report credited the Interface Assessment Workshops with completing 80
percent of DOD systems interface agreements, DOD officials openly worried about the
Defense Message System’s progress at the Communications Functional Area workshop July
28.


DOD officials will meet this month to find ways to speed the work on DMS’ date
code, the report said.


The department does not expect DMS to be ready on time to replace the antiquated
AUTODIN by 2000. Until then, the Defense Information Systems Agency will run as few
AUTODIN circuits and switching centers as possible to support classified message
transmissions.


DOD program managers also face another daunting task, the report said. They must find
and evaluate embedded computer chips with faulty date code in DOD weapons systems and
buildings.    

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