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|Monday, February 22, 1999 |
Tommy G. Thompson
News Media Contact
DWD News Office
DWD on schedule
with "Y2K" modifications
Madison, Wis. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development is on schedule to modify its computer systems to avoid "Y2K" problems that would interrupt or even halt operations, the agencys top official said today.
Department Secretary Linda Stewart said two of the agencys major systems "have completed their renovation work and tests with flying colors."
She identified them as those supporting unemployment insurance (UI) and one nicknamed CARES which supports W-2 and other economic support activities.
Stewart said an independent auditing firm already has reviewed the UI system and given it its highest favorable rating.
Another major system nicknamed KIDS, she said, also has completed its renovation work and is currently undergoing testing.
Both KIDS (Kids Information Data System) and CARES (Client Assistance for Reemployment and Economic Support) will be reviewed by outside auditors this year to insure they are "bug free."
The CARES system is the main computer program supporting the W-2, food stamps, child care, and medical assistance programs. Staff use the system to determine client eligibility, issue benefits, track program participation and for other data support.
The KIDS system is the basic computer program supporting statewide child support collections and enforcement.
Another major system is JobNet, which provides a self-service method for job seekers to register and search for work.
JobNet was built to be Y2K compliant and has been assessed as largely compliant. Testing is anticipated to be completed by the end of this month.
Stewart said the agency has been working for several years to ensure "we are as prepared as anyone can be" for problems caused by computer programs which use only two digits for year dating. That system of dating was common with computer programs until the early 1990s.
"Clocks" in those older systems are unable to successfully go from 1999 to 2000 because 00 also could mean the year 1900. As a result, they could "freeze" because of internal logic conflicts.
Although most public attention has been focused on what will happen New Years Eve this year, problems associated with the programming "glitch" already have begun showing up in the U.S. and other counties around the world, and will continue even after Jan. 1, 2000.
The Department, with an annual budget of $1.3 billion and about 2,400 staff, relies heavily on computerization throughout all of its programs and services.
DWD is one of state governments largest agencies. It administers the payment of unemployment insurance, child support, and a variety of other aids to individuals and organizations, including the states W-2 welfare replacement program, among other programs. JobNet also is one of the agencys computer-based services very popular with, and used directly by, tens of thousands of jobseekers and employers.
Stewart said insuring operations are not jeopardized by the Y2K problem has been the agencys "top business priority" since she was appointed Secretary.
"The Department has made a major commitment to assuring that we are able to seamlessly deliver services to the citizens and employers of the State of Wisconsin through and beyond the year 2000," she said.
"Much testing of our programs already has been completed, and fixes made," she said. "All testing is scheduled to be completed well in advance of next Jan. 1."
"To that end, we have inventoried and assessed all of our application systems and we are modifying or replacing our systems, as necessary, to be Year 2000 compliant.
"We also are examining every electronic component in our statewide computer network for possible exposure points. To the extent feasible, we are taking every precaution to ensure that our systems will be operational for our business partners and the individuals who rely upon them."
"In addition -- and because we are dependent on public and private vendors to help us deliver our services -- we are working closely with these business partners to make sure they also are ready."Stewart said the Department is dependent "on the proper functioning of our service delivery partners technology infrastructures operated by local governments, private non-profit organizations, and private contractors."
"Our service delivery partners need to ensure that all their personal computers and their operating systems are Y2K compliant, as are their local area networks and their physical facilities heating/air conditioning/ventilation systems, security systems, and so on."
Stewart said DWD had "pursued an aggressive campaign" to make sure that its service delivery partner organizations "are fully aware and understand the steps they need to take in their own year 2000 programs".
These efforts included sponsoring a two-day Year 2000 conference for service delivery partners statewide in Stevens Point in June, 1998, and another one which is underway today.
Stewart said that agency personnel are preparing contingency plans for the delivery of the most vital services under emergency conditions.
"We have asked our service delivery partners to develop similar contingency plans," she said.
To help them, DWD and two other state agencies Health and Family Services (DHFS) and Administration (DOA) -- and the Wisconsin Counties Association are co-sponsoring the Y2K contingency conference for DWD and DHFS county partners and Job Centers partners at the Holiday Inn in Stevens Point today (Feb. 22) and tomorrow.
The first day of the conference is focusing on contingency planning. The second day will offer workshops on "Y2K 101" for organizations just getting started, detailed technical information technology issues, and more details on contingency planning. Individual consultations will be available both days.
Confirmed as speakers are Lt. Governor Scott McCallum, DOA Executive Assistant Linda Seemeyer, St. Croix County Administrator John Krizek, and Dale Seidel from the Division of Emergency Management.
Also speaking are Wisconsin Counties Association Executive Director Mark Rogacki, Racine County Emergency Management Director David Maack, and Alliant Energy's Y2K Emergency Preparedness Director Chuck Minerman.