Labour Dept ‘quietly confident’ over Y2K

The Department of Labour, in contrast with other government departments, is "quietly confident" that it is on top of year 2000 compliance issues. Already its financial management systems have been fully assessed and tested and DOL expects to have completed testing throughout the department by the end of this year.

The Department of Labour, in contrast with other government departments, is “quietly confident” that it is on top of year 2000 compliance issues.

Already its financial management systems have been fully assessed and tested and DOL’s Y2K programme manager, Dave Donohue, expects to have completed testing throughout the department by the end of this year.

The Department of Labour is made up of Immigration, Employment Service, Industrial Relations, Occupational Safety, the labour policy group and the community employment group. Coordinating any Y2K project across such a diverse IT environment has been something of a challenge, but Donohue says the departments use an old IT standby to help each other out: gossip. “We talk to each other on an informal level, chatting about how things have been done from department to department. We also chat with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), Trade New Zealand and the Ministry of Tourism as we share a number of sites around the world with them.”

The Immigration department poses its own peculiar problems. “With Immigration our focus has been not so much on compliance as on continuity.” With several hundred offices around the world, Donohue says the emphasis has been on contingency planning.

“We might be assured of our own compliance but if we’re relying on someone else in between, there is room for failure.” Rather than spending time and effort on ensuring system compliance for the whole world, Donohue says Immigration will focus on how to operate in the event of a system failure.

Also of concern for Donohue is the formation of a new government department, the Department of Works and Income (DWI), which will take over the running of the Employment Service, among others. Donohue is determined to ensure Y2K compliance work is complete in the affected departments before he hands over control on October 1.

Tim Payne, in charge of the financial management systems’ Y2K project, which includes QSP financials, Oracle and Sun technology, was wary of compliance certification issued on the system.

“QSP stated this version was compliant, and we accepted that, but we tested it anyway.” Payne believes any certificate of compliance is only as good as the machine it was tested on.

“[Applications] can be tested in the vendors’ systems but until they’re out in your systems and the way you’ve got them set up, you just don’t know.”

QSP’s New Zealand regional manager, Steve Brine, was more than happy to hear DOL had tested for compliance.

“I understand they processed every month from the start of 1999 through beyond January 1, 2001 just to be on the safe side.” Payne adds that they also checked to ensure financial years coped as well as calendar years.

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