IG claims HUD not Y2K-compliant

Despite the Clinton administration's assertions that the Department of Housing and Urban Development's major computer systems are Year 2000-compliant, the agency's inspector general reported last month that systems are still vulnerable to the millennium bug.

The IG's report concluded that because of weaknesses in testing and insufficient authority at the project office, HUD's major systems are not compliant.

The report also suggested that the agency's chief information officer has no direct authority over HUD's Office of Information Technology and the contractors performing the work. The IG had recommended to move the Office of Information Technology under the authority of the CIO.

Pam Woodside, a Year 2000 project manager at HUD, said the report is not completely accurate because it is based on information that was provided to the IG's office in January.

"We have implemented all of our systems, mission-critical and nonmission-critical," Woodside said.Last month, HUD reported that it had met the Clinton administration's March 31 deadline for federal agencies to have all of their mission-critical systems compliant.

The IG's report was released nearly a week before the March 31 deadline and states that there is a real possibility that many of HUD's computer systems will malfunction or produce incorrect information.Also, according to the report, HUD has a continuing need for a senior-level official to provide leadership and accountability over Year 2000 renovation, testing and certification.

Saul Ramirez, HUD's deputy secretary, said the department's Year 2000 compliance program is doing well under the executive leadership of the CIO.

Ramirez and Woodside said the report does contain some useful testing tips that HUD decided to use. The IG's report suggested that HUD conduct testing with its business partners in addition to its own systems. HUD's testing process, according to the report, did not provide assurance that adequate testing was performed.

For example, the report states, HUD has no means to determine whether all agency programs with date-related changes were tested as part of the Year 2000 certification process.

Ramirez said HUD incorporated into its testing plan the recommendations that were provided by the IG. He said the process was designed to provide an independent evaluation of HUD's computer systems.

"A separate, independent validation and verification team has been in place since the second quarter of 1998,'' Ramirez said.

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