Feds will monitor systems for leap year hiccups

Feds will monitor systems for leap year hiccups

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

FEB. 28—Today, the government's year 2000 teams begin their final systems watch. They will be on the lookout for systems that fail to recognize tomorrow's leap year date.

The President's Council on the Year 2000 Conversion and the Year 2000 Information Coordination Center next month then will begin dismantling their operations.

Unlike the year 2000 issue, in which the use of two-digit years was a standard programming flaw in old code, a leap year coding error results because programmers had an incomplete understanding of leap year rules, said John Koskinen, chairman of the president's council.

"It is a completely different problem, but it was rolled into the Y2K rubric because people did not want to work on two separate projects," Koskinen said.

Because the government expects few if any problems, the coordination center will not operate around the clock as it did during the 1999-to-2000 transition period.

The center will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. for the next three days. After that, it will revert to standard business hours until it closes for good at the end of March.

Three rules apply for determining the occurrence of a leap year: A leap year occurs in years divisible by four; most years divisible by 100 are normal years; the exception is any year divisible by 100 and 400, which is a leap year.

For example, 2000 and 2400 are leap years, but 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not.

"It turns out that there were people who knew Rule 1 and 2. Most people did not know Rule 3," Koskinen said.

Some errant programming may cause glitches, he said, but the errors will likely occur in application software, not operating systems or hardware.

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