House offices face own hurdles to fix date code

Members of the House of Representatives are responsible for fixing the
date code in their own office systems, but most have not even begun the work, a House
technology staff member said.

Most members have not even thought about fixing their systems, said Harrison Fox, a
staff member with the House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on Government
Management, Information and Technology.

“For most members, the future is two weeks from today and the past is a week
ago,” he said.

The House’s internal Year 2000 Program Plan does not consider PCs and LANs in
member and committee offices as mission-critical, as it does 33 other systems in the
House. The House Information Resource Office, which is fixing date code for
mission-critical systems, has one project manager who sees that technicians lend advice
and tools so member offices can fix their systems, the plan said.

Although member and committee offices are essentially responsible for their own
systems, HIRO technicians are briefing staff members on date code repair, said Jason
Poblete, communications director for the House Oversight Committee.

Technical support representatives from HIRO had visited 460 of the 487 offices as of
June 30, the report said. The techs handed out YMark2000, a program that tests a PC’s
ability to process dates beyond 2000. They also answered questions from office staff

YMark2000, from CMP Media Inc. of Conshohocken, Pa., runs on most PCs and tests BIOS
and clock functionality. It does not test the operating system and applications running on
a PC, however.

House members need to turn to the makers of the software they run to verify if their
applications are year 2000-ready, Poblete said.

“We will rely on vendor statements for the operating systems and
applications,” Poblete said.

House members run their offices independently, like small businesses. And that
independence, Fox said, means some member offices will be ready and others will not be.

A sampling of member offices found year 2000 work in various stages. Many staff members
were unclear about how much work remains and how much help they expect from HIRO.

Teresa Wesley, systems manager for Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), found that only two of
the 11 PCs in Bachus’ Washington office were 2000-ready. “I haven’t checked
the district office yet,” she said.

Wesley said she doesn’t expect HIRO to help her fix the date code in the other PCs
and will rely on a vendor instead.

Cornelia Henson, systems manager for Rep. Scotty Baesler (D-Ky.), said all 20 of the
lawmaker’s PCs—10 in Washington and 10 in the district office—are ready.

Minnie Langham, systems manager for Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), said all the
desktop systems in her office had been fixed but didn’t know who would test the OS or

A Senate Sergeant of Arms official said the Senate is using a more centralized
approach. Each mission-critical system has a project manager to oversee its repair. There
is also at least one person overseeing the repair of systems in Senate lawmaker and
committee offices, the official said.  


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