DOD memo seeks costs by Sept. 15

The Defense Department responding to a congressional mandate included in the DOD authorization bill has stepped up its efforts to identify the extent of its Year 2000 problem and the cost of a fix.

In an Aug. 1 memo chief information officer Emmett Paige Jr. directed all DOD components and services to submit their evaluations of how they will be affected by the approaching millennium by Sept. 15. The memo is consistent with a DOD "Action Plan for the Year 2000" that currently is being considered by DOD officials.

The Sept. 15 deadline will give Paige's office time to provide Congress with a DOD-wide assessment in January as requested in the authorization bill said Bob Molter the DOD Year 2000 point of contact.

However the survey is just as important for DOD's own purposes Molter said. DOD needs that departmentwide view so it can identify places where one service's problems become another's problem Molter said.

"One of the reasons this assessment is so critical is to get this information into a database because of the interfaces and exchanges of information that take place " Molter said. Most Defense organizations have been working on the problem for a while he added. "The Aug. 1 memo just gave them an end date."

The Year 2000 problem stems from the fact that much hardware and software processes information on years as two digits - 1996 as 96 for example. That will become a problemJan. 1 2000 because two-digit-oriented technology will read 00 as 1900. That could cause major problems for any number of applications ranging from database programs to weapons systems.

The Paige memo calls for DOD organizations to identify the following elements: * Overall appraisal of the situation and its impact.* Major concerns.* The number of systems being reviewed or fixed.* The associated costs.* Completion dates.* Legacy systems being eliminated.* Any recommendations for additional measures that should be taken.

Molter expects that most DOD organ-izations will have completed their assessments by the prescribed deadline although some larger shops may need a little more time. But once the process is complete "we will have a good rough estimate of the resources that will be required to complete the process [of fixing problems] by the end of 1998 which is really our goal " Molter said.

"There are good solid methodologies in place" for Year 2000 assessments said Charles Ross director of Data Dimensions Mid-Atlantic Inc. Colonial Beach Va. which supplies Year 2000-related tools to federal agencies. However even after DOD has a good picture of its Year 2000 situation "the question is are we going to be able to complete fixing all the problems before the problems manifest themselves " Molter said.

DOD's ability to address Year 2000 problems is limited by scarce resources. To date DOD still does not expect to receive any extra funding to apply to Year 2000-related activities so DOD organizations will have to shift money from existing programs. Even then there probably will not be enough agency officials have said in recent months.

The DOD Action Plan emphasizes the importance of prioritizing systems to receive a Year 2000 fix. The plan outlines three primary courses of action for dealing with corrections:* Proceed with Year 2000 fixes on mission-critical systems.* Decide to terminate a system migrating system functionality to a chosen migration system that will receive Year 2000 fixes.* Decide to bear a known acceptable level of risk and postpone Year 2000 corrections to selected information technology systems.

The plan also spells out general guidelines for deciding which course to choose. First and foremost "retirement of redundant noncompliant and nonessential legacy systems is an opportunity associated with Year 2000 initiatives " according to the plan.

In correcting or replacing systems organizations should begin with hardware if applicable then rewrite or replace the computers' Basic Input/Output System firmware which is one of the basic sources of Year 2000 problems. Operating systems should be upgraded to compliant versions or the system should be migrated to a new operating system environment. Finally off-the-shelf software should be upgraded to compliant versions or eliminated altogether according to the DOD document.

The proposed plan calls for any engineering change proposals to be carried out using automated tools as much as possible and tools and software code fixes will be reused "to the maximum extent possible."

Assessment code regeneration and code correction tools will be made available through DOD's Integrated Computer-Aided Software Engineering contract a software development vehicle managed by Logicon Inc.The plan also spells out roles and responsibilities for carrying out all Year 2000 activity:*ASD C3I: Establishes DOD-wide procedures and strategies and coordinates with other federal agencies through the Year 2000 Interagency Committee.* Undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and technology: Recommends contract language and issues compliance requirements for commercial off-the-shelf and developed hardware firmware and software.* OSD principal staff assistants: Identify mission-critical systems prioritize systems for review execute corrections within their functional areas and monitor the corrections.* Heads of DOD components: Analyze assess execute and implement Year 2000 initiatives through their Central Design Activities.* Director of Defense Information Systems Agency: Provide DOD-wide facilitation to the ASD C3I for Year 2000 initiatives.

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