GW debugs computers against Y2K glitches

The University’s Year 2000 Project committee, created to handle the computer glitch that may disable some computer functions in the year 2000, has stepped up its efforts to comply with a Department of Education ruling.

The University installed Banner 3.0, software designed to debug computer software for 750 universities and colleges around the nation, to comply with a Jan. 1 Department of Education deadline to prepare systems for possible Year 2000 problems.

Although the project committee began plans to deal with Y2K in time for 2000, the early deadline for all universities and colleges nationwide put the committee’s action ahead of schedule.

“We knew we had to be concerned about the Y2K problem, but we didn’t know we would have to be ready by Jan. 1,” said Dan Small, director of Student Financial Assistance.

After buying Banner 3.0 from SCT Inc., the company that runs the GW computer system, the project committee modified it for University use and implemented it in late December. The new software has run smoothly, said Year 2000 Project Manager Dan Drageset.

Student Financial Assistance was an office of specific concern to Y2K experts because of the nature of its computer processes. Computers in the financial aid office have dealt with accounts of students graduating after 2000 and have had no major setbacks to date, Small said.

“We have dealt with 2000 at a small level and everything is working so far,” Small said. “Things are working now just as always.”

Having no experience with computerized calendars rolling over to 2000, the University plans to test computers throughout the semester to ensure the SCT software will make the transition smoothly.

The committee is working with coordinators from each office on campus to keep the University system progressing at the same pace, Small said.

Despite the committee’s confidence in the system updates, the unpredictable nature of the Y2K problem leaves many questions.

“(The system) is working at this point, but when the actual day comes, we can’t possibly know,” Small said.

Questions also remain about external computing systems with which University systems interface.

“Larger, well-known banks, which most students use, are (updating systems), but we don’t know about others,” Small said.

In addition to smaller banks, the University coordinates loan transactions. Concerns remain about other universities and colleges that might not be on schedule with the Department of Education timeline.

Because students have not voiced major concerns about Y2K, the committee has done little to educate computer users around campus other than to visit one Student Association Senate meeting.

“Students really haven’t voiced any concern other than an article in The GW Hatchet and By George,” Drageset said. “We have contemplated setting up a Web page and haven’t contemplated setting up further direct communication, but we are prepared to do so.”

The committee plans to start further system testing in the near future and remains confident that the system will continue to run smoothly beyond the year 2000, he said.

“I do not anticipate any problems with the Banner system,” Drageset said. “Something will go wrong, but nothing that will inhibit the function of the University.”

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