Montgomery County Md Not Ready After All The Hype : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Remember Montgomery County had y2k tests to prove compliance? This led many to compare Mont. County to other areas and this county was the standard against which others are measured.

Well folks, not to be a doomer, but things have just not panned out that way. With all the money here, there are still big problems. This reminds me of the FAA.


June 30, 1999

Y2K cost balloons; some critical systems miss goal

by Steven T. Dennis Staff Writer

The county government's nationally vaunted Y2K program is exceeding worst-case cost estimates and running months behind schedule.

Spending to fix the year 2000 computer glitch will exceed the county's worst-case scenario. Some critical systems, including the one handling teacher payroll checks, won't be ready for the county's self-imposed June 30 goal.

The county has budgeted $47 million to fix Y2K so far, not including $5.1 million spent on the new Y2K-compliant phone system and a potential $8 million spending request to beef up emergency preparedness.

The county earlier projected $44 million in Y2K spending as its worst-case scenario and aimed to keep costs "well below $40 million," according to county documents. That didn't happen.

Chief Administrative Officer Bruce Romer noted that a lot has changed since the county first made spending projections three years ago.

"The fact that this is costing a bit more should not be alarming or surprising," Romer said.

The county also had set a goal of fixing and testing its computer systems by Dec. 31, 1998. That didn't happen. The county later pushed the date back to June 30, but that won't happen either.

About one-third of the county's computer systems haven't been certified as fixed.

Several systems identified as critical by the County Council won't be fixed until this fall, including payroll for teachers, the permit system, a system that allows personal computers to talk to the county mainframe and a park and planning system.

Donald Evans, director of the county's Department of Information Systems and Telecommunications, said a variety of factors led to the higher costs and delays.

"I think any institution would be happy to come so close to the original projection," Evans said of the costs.

Evans said 87 percent of the county's computer systems have been reported as fixed or upgraded. But only about two-thirds of all the systems have finished testing, council staff noted.

Evans said the important thing is that he's confident all systems critical to the functioning of the county government will be fixed by the real deadline -- Dec. 31.

"The county's critical systems will work," he said.

Some delays have been caused because contractors failed to perform, county officials said. Others were caused when companies told the county they wouldn't patch old systems, which then had to be replaced at a higher cost.

The administration is also considering whether to request up to $8 million more for emergency preparedness related to Y2K in a few weeks, Romer said.

County Executive Douglas M. Duncan requested setting aside $8 million for an emergency Y2K fund in his budget, but the County Council refused.

The money would pay for upgrading things such as generators at county buildings in case Pepco has a severe power outage.

Such items aren't only Y2K-related because they can be used in any disaster, Evans said.

Romer noted the $8 million was not factored into the original projections.

Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg said the costs and delays are understandable.

"I think they are doing OK, all things considered," he said. "It is expensive, but it's important to get it right. It looks like we'll be in good shape."

Council President Isiah Leggett (D-At large) of Burtonsville questioned why the county touted itself as a national model while still asking for $1.7 million in emergency spending a few weeks ago.

The Duncan administration received national exposure in December, when officials held a Y2K demonstration with scores of reporters present. Only four of about 300 systems were tested that day -- systems that the county had already tested and knew would work.

Most of the computer systems hadn't yet been fixed and tested.

Romer later appeared on the cover of Government Technology magazine in May, with the title: "This man survived Y2K, will you?"

The county also was touted as a national model on the CBS news show "60 Minutes."

Evans said in an interview this week that the county has actually saved $35 million by not spending as much on items as individual departments had requested.

Asked why the county should be considered a national model, Evans said the county had developed consistent "metrics" countywide for measuring the status of Y2K abatement and had developed a system for identifying and triaging affected computer systems. Evans said the fact that few new problems are being discovered speaks to the quality of the county's efforts.

"We, I think rightfully, have been looked to as a national model over the last several years," Romer said.

"We view our progress as being very good, very measurable."

-- Mike Lang (, July 01, 1999


Thanks for the laughs, Mike. I've attended "Monkey-see, Monkey-do" County's hype-fests. It was funny hearing the spin the second time around.

Oh, and you Pollys out there. Please don't flame me. Please put you effort into spinning the story of the best prepared county in America.

Do you Pollys get it yet? We got big problems. Some things have been patched but for every system that's been repaired, tested, certified, there's 5 systems that haven't been fixed but some clueless horn-haired butt-head is claiming it is.

-- cory (, July 02, 1999.

The ugly truth rears its butthead -- "model" of lies, spin, hypocrisy. Ongoing. The buck stops at 1/1/2000

-- back to doom (no relief@in.sight), July 02, 1999.

"fixed by the real deadline -- Dec. 31"
Like all the rest, the crucial deadline will be missed. Best make sure those personal contingency plans pass muster and are drilled.

-- it will be too late (by the, July 02, 1999.

And if Pepco goes out, WSSC does not have any back up generators.

-- dave (, July 02, 1999.

The Disconnect Effect: "Officials stage Y2K disaster...."

-- Lane Core Jr. (, July 02, 1999.

and they told me they did not have any problems , HA!!! HA!!! I am in Frederick County to the north of Monky County, we hate them we cant wait for there county to fall apart,( O ...Muffy My cappachino is not hot enought, Tadd... my BMW wont go Boo Hoo..) the sooner that Y2K kicks the shit out of any one who cant get a long with out there Yuppy toys the better this whole place will be ....

By the way dont come north , we dont have any food ,and we dont like you any way!!!!

-- ( goody), July 02, 1999.

2 months, sounds to me like maybe that car loan application didn't go through. not to worry, i spoke to your mommy and she'll be happy to swing by your place to drop you off at the clinic.

gotta go.

-- corrine l (, July 02, 1999.

the scary thing about this is that, having lived in both Mont. Co and in D.C., I have a feel for how these two nearby places operate. If Mont. Co. can't get it together, the chances for most other places is not too good. D.C. is no suprise- they don't have it together at any time.......

do I smell toast???

-- farmer (, July 02, 1999.

you're kidding! WSSC doesn't even have generators?!?!?!? i live not 2 minutes from a new waste-treatment plant off of Great Seneca Highway!! please tell me you're kidding........

-- sarah (, July 03, 1999.

He's not kidding - have to be a spoit sport - but I told you in december that they were pushing that "publicized" test oo far. Not enough had been checked, and what was checked was "demo'ed" for the reporters. It was too close to DC and the DC publicity machine to miss though - they had to do it.

Yes - this county MIGHT make it. And as usual, late, over budget, and after finding more problems than it expected. Same old, same old. And these guys started earlier, spent more, and tested better than 99% of the rest of the country. Yes , their tests were flawed, and too publicized to be immediately credible _ at that time _ but they did test.

Anybody still have a warm fuzzy feeling about DC, or any suburban area county or small city NOT spending 50 plus million dollars? Anybody who started after 1996 is in deep trouble.

My own? Thought it was finished in Sept last year - and still wanted more this year. "To keep testing."

Good, accurate, well-written article. Covers the process well, and in enough depth to show where the errors and flaws were. And where the successes were. Give my congratualtions to the author, and to the paper.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, July 03, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ