Defense deems date code logistics test a success

Defense deems date code logistics test a success

DOD's Zachary Goldstein says the department now has 'the best detailed information about how the systems work.'

Team of contractors and more than 1,000 federal employees spent five days testing 44 major systems

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

Capping 11 months of preparation, the Defense Department this month tested its logistics systems for year 2000 readiness and reported only a few minor glitches.

'There was no change in performance between pre-2000 and post-2000,' said Zachary Goldstein, director of logistics systems modernization for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, on the fourth of five days of testing.

More than 1,000 government employees and contractors at 22 sites worked on the test, which involved the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy, as well as the Defense Information Systems Agency, Defense Logistics Agency and U.S. Transportation Command. The test took five days because it takes that long for some transactions to go end to end, DOD officials said.

DOD officials said the test was the largest simultaneous year 2000 readiness test of information systems in the world. It tested 44 major systems that DOD uses to move troops and supplies. It also tested for leap year readiness by setting the computers' internal clocks to Feb. 29, 2000. The systems were a representative sample of 1,000 DOD logistics systems, Goldstein said.

Remediating and testing the systems let DOD officials review whether they should continue using the systems.

'We now have the best detailed information about how the systems work,' Goldstein said. DOD officials have decided to retire noncritical systems as a result of year 2000 testing and the resulting scrutiny, he said. Two or three mission-critical systems are also being retired, and their replacements were the systems DOD tested earlier this month, Goldstein said.

Finding problems is the most important part of doing year 2000 readiness tests, said John A. Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on the Year 2000 Conversion.

He praised DOD leaders for making year 2000 readiness a priority.

Data collection and evaluation were completed by a team of contractor employees from TRW Inc. and government workers. They were divided into live groups.

Koskinen urged all agencies to share their data about year 2000 testing and validation, and he commended DOD for opening the test at the DOD Logistics Y2K Operations Center to the media.

'The logistics systems to support warfighters are on their way to readiness,' he said. 'You can, in fact, complete the process.'

The eight-year cost for federal year 2000 work, as tracked by the Office of Management and Budget, could rise up to 10 percent above its current level of $8 billion, Koskinen said.

During the DOD test, one glitch was a result of the DISA megacenter in Mechanicsburg, Pa., having problems communicating with the megacenter in Oklahoma City, DOD officials said.

A transportation evaluation also failed to make the leap-year rollover, but the system was running within 24 hours, they said. A third system had problems with serial headers that surround batch transactions, and it entered '100' for the year, instead of '00.'

For the 2000 readiness check, the Joint Interoperability Test Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., independently validated the tests.

The tests also gave DOD an opportunity to check contingency plans for software problems, as well as power and communications outages. In most cases, 10 days of fuel should be enough to keep systems running, said John Nyere, a consultant to DOD. The megacenters will need 60 days of fuel, he said.

DOD is also making contingency plans for fulfilling its supply chain needs, in case particular vendors suffer systems failures.

'We haven't shifted any business to any alternative suppliers because of Y2K readiness,' Goldstein said. Citing procurement-sensitive data and legal issues, he said DOD would not release data it has collected about its vendors.

In assessing vendor readiness, DOD officials will have to decide in particular cases whether to bulk up and buy more products before Dec. 31 or whether to purchase from alternative suppliers, DOD officials said.


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