US Y2K govt ‘failure’ ahead of most in NZ

The District of Columbia in the US has been held up as a prime example of what can go wrong with a Y2K project, but if DC were in New Zealand the latest State Services Commission Y2K monitoring report would put it in the top five places. Despite being further advanced than any of New Zealand's state entities, Columbia has been caned in a Congress "report card".

The District of Columbia in the US has been held up as a prime example of what can go wrong with a Y2K project, but if DC were in New Zealand the latest State Services Commission Y2K monitoring report would put it in the top five places.

Despite being further advanced than any of New Zealand’s state entities, Columbia has fallen behind other similar-sized municipalities in the US in a Congress “report card”.

Of the 336 systems identified as being at risk in New Zealand by the SSC’s report, 84 were seen as completely Y2K-ready, 117 required fixing and 135 were fixed and awaiting testing. None of New Zealand’s government agencies match that level of preparedness.

As of December, three of New Zealand’s 24 hospitals were deemed to be failing in their Y2K projects, according to the SSC. “The commission considers that the following hospitals may not be able to be Y2K-compliant by the deadlines …” says the report, which gathered information from “independent quality assurance reports” late last year.

Wairarapa Health, Northland Health and Good Health Wanganui are all at the back of the class, not even making it to the second step of SSC’s five “levels of preparedness”.

Step one is, essentially, putting a preliminary plan in place and appointing a team. Step two involves a more detailed analysis that outlines the various areas that could be affected — IT systems, embedded systems, etc.

Step three includes putting a remediation plan in place, identifying what resources are available and starting a business continuity and disaster recovery plan.

Reaching step four means the entity has tested business continuity and disaster recovery plans and remediation is well on track. Step five is full compliance.

Only four hospitals were deemed to be making “sufficient progress”. Auckland Healthcare, Eastbay Health, Coast Health Care and Canterbury Health have all reached at least step three, with Canterbury Health being more than half way to step four.

The “failing” District of Columbia would rate on or near step four.

New Zealand Blood Services also rates a satisfactory tick, having reached step three.

The remaining 20 health authorities, which includes the Ministry of Health, Pharmac and the Health Funding Authority, are all deemed to be unsatisfactory. Of the remaining high-impact agencies, RNZ, DoC, Maritime Safety, ACC, WINZ, Customs, MAF, Defence, Police, Civil Aviation, Aviation Security and the Ministry of Fisheries all fail to make it to step three.

But department chief executives are decrying the report, saying it is out of date and will only cause undue worry.

“My response to that is to say, ‘just think how far ahead you will be when the next report is released’,” says Y2K minister Maurice Williamson. United MP Peter Dunne is calling for Williamson’s resignation over the report.

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