Baltimore downplays report on Y2K

Listed as unprepared by GAO, city declares it's ready for 2000

July 16, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Despite being listed on a federal report of cities not prepared to handle potential year 2000 computer problems, Baltimore officials said yesterday that they are putting the finishing touches on making the city systems secure.

The reason the city ended up on the list is because it still needs to officially test the system, said Alonza Williams, a spokesman for Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

* City is `ready'

"We are ready," said Williams. "You'll need no bottled water, you'll see all the traffic lights."

The investigative arm of Congress, the U.S. General Accounting Office, issued a report yesterday on computer readiness of the nation's top 21 cities. Only two cities, Boston and Dallas, are ready to avoid computer problems when the century turns.

Baltimore was among 10 cities that reported they will be ready by the end of the year. The city said it has been taking steps since 1994 to prepare for possible problems in administering city services caused by the Y2K bug.

* Areas of concern

According to the GAO, the city is not ready in the areas of water and wastewater treatment, telecommunications, emergency services, health care facilities, transportation, public buildings and city government services.

In April, Schmoke issued a report on the Y2K compliance of each of the city's services, including:

Water and wastewater. The city water system is ready, but Baltimore was still coordinating with Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. to make sure the pump-fed portion of the system is fully powered.

Fire protection. The city is ready with a Y2K compliant command center, Schmoke said.

Police protection. The department expects to be fully compliant as it relates to operations and communications by October.

Finance. The first test of the city tax system will occur this month. From August to September, the dates on all major programs will be rolled to January 2000 to simulate the Y2K operation. A generator will be available to provide backup if power for the system is affected.

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