Senate official rallies troops to tackle year 2000 fixes

What’s
Bennett’s plan?








Buy eight new year 2000-ready PCs
Upgrade four PCs
Buy two new servers
Buy or upgrade nine software packages
Remove or make contingency plans for four other
applications




What
he has ready


26 workstations: 10 ready
9 printers: 1 ready
2 network servers: None ready
26 applications: 16 ready, but not WordPerfect,
Windows 95, Excel and cc:Mail




The Senate is pushing member offices to look at how the year 2000 problem could hurt
the way they do business.


Gregory S. Casey, who recently stepped down as Sergeant at Arms, said the Senate is
more dependent on technology than ever. Senate offices received 15 million e-mail messages
last year and will likely receive more than 60 million this year, he said.


“We face the same problem as everyone else,” Casey said. “When it comes
to year 2000 awareness, many people will realize firsthand the degree to which the
microchip touches their lives. For some, it will be a rude awakening.”


In September, Casey held a year 2000 awareness day for Senate officials in an attempt
to be, as he said, more like Paul Revere than Chicken Little.


Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000
Technology Problem, told his colleagues: “Sweep in front of your own stoop
first.”


Bennett, as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for the Legislative
Branch, said he has a “thumb on the financial windpipe” of Congress. Bennett
said he has been pushing Senate offices to prepare their systems for 2000.


Bennett said his office will eventually spend $86,000 readying its systems in
Washington and Utah. To fix date code, the Senate estimates that senators will spend about
30 percent of the $300,000 computer allowance each receives at the start of a six-year
term.


If a Senate office has spent all of its $300,000 and that office’s senator is up
for re-election in 2000, that office has a problem, Bennett said. The Appropriations
Committee is aware of possible problems, he said. “We will see to it that you get the
money for your year 2000 problem,” he added.


The Senate formed a task force in August 1996 as part of the Senate 2000 Computer
Center. It created a more comprehensive task force this January, said Vicki Sinnett,
senior program manager in charge of the Sergeant’s Year 2000 Compliance Project
Office.


The project office will help any member offices that ask for it, Sinnett said.


Unlike many agencies that ostensibly have control over all systems, the senator and
committee offices are independent.


The Sergeant at Arms office oversees the 100 senators’ offices in Washington as
well as the 30 support and 30 leadership offices that have 10,600 computers in all 50
states, Casey said.


The Sergeant at Arms office is focused on the central Legislative Information System
and the Financial Management System. The Senate last month began to replace the Financial
Management System, in part because of year 2000 problems, Casey said.   

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