The year 2000 repairs on the computers that run the District's critical services will be completed by the middle of December, ensuring few if any disruptions on Jan. 1, the city's chief technology officer told the D.C. Council yesterday.
Until now, chief technology officer Suzanne J. Peck had been guarded in her assessment, at times openly questioning whether the city would finish its computer repairs in time. The District began making fixes only 17 months ago, one of the latest starts of any major U.S. city, and the repairs have been hampered by technical and financial problems.
The system that issues unemployment checks was so unreliable, for instance, that the city had to move it to a Y2K-compliant facility in Kentucky.
But yesterday Peck said residents need not worry about calling 911, collecting public assistance checks, renewing a driver's license or negotiating the city's intersections. Any problems will be isolated and minor, she said.
"I'm very confident all . . . critical services the District provides to residents, businesses and visitors will be operating properly at the date change," Peck said after her testimony. Earlier, she told the panel, "No other major municipality has gone from start to finish in their Y2K activities in such a short time period."
Peck said 82 percent of the 378 critical systems citywide have been repaired, tested and put back into service, up from 63 percent when she last reported to the council in June. The remaining 69 systems are scheduled to complete testing by the end of the month and return to service by mid-December.
The latest price tag for eliminating the millennium bug from the District government is about $150 million. The District had to bring in an outside auditor because it lost track of how the project money was being spent.
Despite Peck's confidence, technicians continue to make backup plans in case of an unexpected glitch, power outages or other emergencies. Peck and others at the hearing advised residents to be prepared as if for a snowstorm.
Buy a few gallons of water, preferably before Thanksgiving, advised Peter G. LaPorte, acting director of the D.C. emergency management agency. Added Thomas M. Schafer, of the National Wholesale Druggists Association, "Don't let your prescriptions run down so you have to go out on New Year's Day."