Civilian agencies replace servers, install software upgrades to be 2000-ready

Yost said he expects a more
homogeneous
PC environment.





With three months to go, increasing numbers of civilian agencies are
confident their PCs and servers will be year 2000-ready by the Office of Management and
Budget’s March deadline.


Besides replacing old servers, they are installing software upgrades and
vendor-supplied patches.


“We’re in very good shape,” said Bob Vaccaro, year 2000 program manager
at the Social Security Administration. “We’re not in panic mode.”


SSA has replaced motherboards or upgraded software on a number of 486 PCs, he said.
Intelligent Workstation/LAN contractor Unisys Corp. also has delivered 100-MHz and faster
Pentium PCs and servers.


The agency equipped a facility with year 2000-ready test systems to evaluate
client-server software such as Microsoft Office Professional 97, he said. The facility
also makes sure that products delivered under IWS/LAN can connect over a token-ring
network to SSA’s mainframes.


At the IRS, the minimum PC platform must have a 66-MHz 486 processor, said John Yost,
the Century Date Change Project director. But an inventory revealed 50,000 systems not
meeting that standard, and they will be retired during the next seven months, he said. By
August, the IRS will deploy 40,000 new PCs after installing the same number in the last
fiscal year.


The readiness effort forced IRS officials to make a “workstation-level inventory,
a national program [governing] what we procure, how we manage it and how we inventory
it,” Yost said.


The IRS has used the Millennium Bug Toolkit from Holt Enterprises of Morgantown, Pa.,
to flash the PC BIOSes on some of its older systems.


Yost said he expects the more homogeneous PC environment by late next year will make it
easier to train employees. The IRS also must ensure that its 1,500 midframe servers are
year 2000-ready during the next seven months.


The General Services Administration bought a site license for Check 2000 software from
Greenwich Mean Time-UTA L.C. of Arlington, Va., to inventory its PCs and servers, said
Diane Savoy, director of the GSA Center for Information Technology Capital Planning.
Network administrators currently are being trained to run the product on their LANs, she
said.


GSA has a three-level PC readiness certification, Savoy said. Systems that are
2000-ready get green stickers.


Those that can be made ready by manually changing the real-time clock receive yellow
stickers. Those with red stickers have real-time clocks that cannot be manually fixed.


The real-time clock has emerged as a central issue in year 2000 PC readiness.


GSA’s readiness testing is “90 percent complete,” Savoy said, and the
agency will follow up to ensure that no PCs with red stickers are donated to schools.


The Postal Service maintains a corporate Web site with readiness test results and
information about specific makes and models, said Bob Stephens, program area manager for
the USPS Year 2000 Initiative Office in Raleigh, N.C.


Since May 1997, all USPS contracts have had clauses requiring vendors to supply year
2000-ready products, Stephens said. The service maintains about 100,000 PCs and servers,
he said.


The State Department will meet OMB’s deadline, said David Ames, deputy chief
information officer for year 2000. State uses the YMark2000 tool from National Software
Testing Laboratories Inc. of Conshohocken, Pa., to test PC BIOSes.


It also uses Test2000 from RighTime Co. of Miami, a freeware product downloadable from
the Web at http://www.righTime.com, to test the real-time clock in PCs bought prior to the
State Information Infrastructure PC LAN contract with BTG Inc. of Fairfax, Va., Ames said.


BTG and Government Technology Services Inc. of Chantilly, Va., which inherited the
contract through an acquisition, have mailed out diskettes to flash the PC BIOSes at each
location that had had unready PCs shipped to it.


Department officials also are replacing unready Wang Laboratories Inc. Tempest systems,
Ames said.


The Office of the Secretary at Health and Human Services is replacing 70 unready
servers from Banyan Systems Inc. of Westborough, Mass., said Paul Cromwell, the year 2000
coordinator.


“Each staff division is responsible for its testing and evaluation,” he said.
The inspector general’s and secretary’s offices together maintain about 3,000
PCs.


“I’m not at all concerned about the desktops and servers” being ready by
March, Cromwell said. “We’re moving right along.”


The Commerce Department’s National Technical Information Service has tested its
350 PCs and found that 200 had to be replaced, spokeswoman Renee Edwards said.


“We’re in the process of replacing them,” she said. The fee-for-service
agency also has replaced unready servers.


Federal Bureau of Prisons officials are trying to fix their PCs and servers in
“the most cost-effective manner possible” without compromising their
public-safety mission, spokesman Dan Dunn said. The bureau is buying some new equipment
and purchasing some new components for PCs and servers, he said.

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