Census systems get checkup

The Census Bureau met the Office of Management and Budget’s March 31 deadline for
fixing and testing 60 mission-critical systems for year 2000 readiness, and now it is
within days of completing the scanning of all 6,000 desktop PCs.

The ones that could not pass the test likely will get a terminate-and-stay-resident
software fix, Gregory said, and Census will “probably replace about 100 PCs.”
The bureau’s 12 regional offices and two telephone centers outside the Washington
area have not completed PC testing.

Census’ 3,000 notebook PCs are undergoing a different Greenwich Mean Time-UTA
test, Gregory said. Almost all the notebooks are to be used for the 2000 Census and were
ordered with standard configurations and software through a contract with Comark Federal
Systems of Chantilly, Va.

“Greenwich Mean Time gave us a lot of help in testing scripts and collating
data” for reports, Gregory said. The bureau bought a 6,000-user license for the test
software through a Commerce Department site license program, she said. “They
understood that the PCs would never be ready on their own,” said Chris Weiss, chief
technologist at Greenwich Mean Time-UTA. “They did proper risk assessment and went
into it with their eyes open.” Agencies can license Check 2000 Client Server through
federal resellers, starting at around $30 per PC, Weiss said.

“We feel confident we’ll be good to go in January,” Gregory said.
“We made readiness a business problem early on. The business managers have taken it
seriously instead of trying to manage it from the IT realm.” Census officials began
making their plans in 1996. The bureau’s division chiefs met in the fall of 1997 to
begin assessing systems, Gregory said.

The bureau now has some breathing room to concentrate on Census 2000, scheduled to
begin next April, Gregory said. 

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