Row over Baycorp's Y2K compliancy highlights confusion

A software firm's questioning of credit-check company Baycorp's year 2000 compliance claims - questions vehemently rejected by the company - highlights the possibility of confusion over millennium problems and the interconnected role of the supply chain.

A software firm's questioning of credit-check company Baycorp's year 2000 compliance claims — questions vehemently rejected by the company — highlights the possibility of confusion over millennium problems and the interconnected role of the supply chain.

Wellington-based credit software house Proaxiom contacted Computerworld last week, suggesting that, on its experience, Baycorp had some year 2000 problems. This was despite a letter from Baycorp MIS general manager Garry Wood dated March 12, 1997 certifying that the Baynet CRA credit information database was year 2000-compliant in all areas of operation, and a similar statement to shareholders in the 1997 annual report.

Mike Price, technical director for Proaxiom, which writes software as a front end to Baynet, says there are two Y2K issues relating to birth dates and that his company twice advised Baynet but there was no response.

"We're not trying to bash Baycorp but we feel this should be drawn to the attention of the market," he says. "Our clients say the most common problem with the date of birth is that people fill out the current year and that this information can then be manually entered, incorrectly, into a system.

"Three of our clients [a bank, a retail credit company and a smaller finance company] want to know whether Baynet is compliant."

At his former company, ACS, Price provided access software for Baynet in 1995 and continues to maintain that.

Baycorp managing director Keith McLaughlin is adamant that it's that interface software which is causing the problems. "Mike Price was involved in the development of ... Baylink ... This is one of many interfaces operated by Baycorp. It is our intention not to carry this solution through to year 2000 ... . "Our database and core systems are year 2000 compliant," he says.

In Baycorp's next annual report, due out in September, the following statement will appear: "All databases and core processors have been verified as year 2000 ready, and the company is working with those clients who access Baycorp's systems to ensure their systems have no impact on the company. Year 2000 ready means Baycorp's database system and any data provided by Baycorp will not be negatively affected in its quality or accuracy by the advent of the new century on January 1, 2000."

"We have verified the database and core processes," McLaughlin says. However, though the company auditors have signed off on the accounts, Baycorp is not yet certified as year 2000 compliant.

McLaughlin says there has been no external audit of compliance yet. "Certification will be performed by executing the remediated production software on a standalone system dedicated to year 2000 testing. It will then be tested for year 2000 data compliance before, during and after year 2000, using forward system and data dates."

The Baylink interface will be replaced by an Internet application, McLaughlin says. "That's why we recently got 128-bit encryption approval."

He says that, after Computerworld inquiries, Baycorp contacted Proaxiom and is removing some error code so that Proaxiom can do live testing.

A year 2000 audit specialist who did not wish to be named because of his current contract says that unless everyone in the supply chain is compliant there can be problems.

"You can't deal in isolation," he says. "Most sensible companies will bring in an independent to do quality assurance."

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