Y2K bug heads for tardy US computers

November 26, 1999

In the United States, most institutions have made preparations to head off the millennium computer bug, with one notable exception - universities.

According to a US department of education report, at least 210 universities are not prepared for the calendar change that is expected to confuse much computer software.

John Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, warned: "There are many institutions that have a lot of work to do, and those institutions that think they are done need to realise that a lot can still go wrong."

The report says that, as of October 1, computer systems at 39 per cent of US universities were not ready for the millennium.

Even those universities that believed they were ready may not be, Mr Koskinen said, citing an independent audit of three institutions that considered themselves Y2K-compliant. The audit identified serious problems at all three.

The report says 30 per cent of universities have yet to prepare computers that handle student records and financial services, and about 38 per cent have not dealt with computing systems that affect their buildings and grounds - an oversight that could threaten electrics, heating, security and communications.

Fifteen per cent admitted that those systems were unlikely to be ready by December 31.

The report notes that the situation is made less serious because most campuses will not be occupied during the New Year weekend, but 12 per cent of universities have no contingency plan if their systems do fail. However, the situation has improved since the summer, when 70 per cent of universities said they were still unprepared.

But some priorities apparently remain intact. According to the survey, all but 4 per cent of university administrators said the computers that write their pay cheques were completely Y2K-compliant.

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