DOD counting on contractors to get compliance work done

The Defense Department is repairing or has scheduled the renovation of about 11 percent of its nearly 14 000 information technology systems in its Year 2000 compliance effort and expects to rely on contractors to get the work done.

Sam Worthington DOD's director of IT and the Year 2000 program manager provided this status report last week at the National Institute of Standards and Technology's International Symposium on the Year 2000. The two-day symposium drew more than 200 participants from government and industry including representatives from Australia Sweden and the United Kingdom.

About 60 percent of DOD's 13 897 IT systems are in assessment and about 21 percent of the Pentagon's systems have been found to be Year 2000-compliant. DOD expects to spend $1.3 billion to make its computers Year 2000-compliant and Worthington said that number is "going to grow" as work continues.

As for the systems requiring repair "we intend to rely very heavily on private industry " Worthington said. DOD plans to handle the Year 2000 problem with current IT staffing levels which means that most of the work will be contracted out he said.

Some conference participants however said that finding personnel - contractor or otherwise - to fix the Year 2000 problem will be a difficult task for federal agencies.

Harris Miller president of the Information Technology Association of America said some 200 000 IT-related jobs are vacant nationwide and that the Year 2000 crisis will compound what is already a "dramatic shortage" of IT professionals.

"It's a challenge to find the bodies to do it " added Bruce Hall a former Gartner Group analyst who is now vice president of marketing process and strategic relationships at Trigent Software Inc. Trigent with facilities in Southborough Mass. and Bangalore India performs off-site Year 2000 conversions.

Worthington said DOD has yet to secure the contractor personnel needed for the department's Year 2000 effort but the work is ongoing.

DOD meanwhile is retiring a number of systems as part of its Year 2000 renovation. Almost 1 200 legacy systems or about 9 percent of the department's inventory are slated for replacement. "We are going to drop as many unique systems as possible" and move toward commercial off-the-shelf products Worthington said.

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