The Year 2000 Project: Entering the Action Phase
To the University Community:
As the University works to solidify and advance its position as one of the premier research and teaching universities in the nation and the world, we face many challenges. One very real and very immediate challenge is to minimize the potential risks and penalties associated with any non-year 2000 compliant hardware and software products supporting our research and administrative initiatives. Our commitment to resolving this issue, however, is costly both in terms of time and in actual dollars. While much progress has been made over the past year, we are not finished. Each school and center must continue to find ways to fund its efforts and to resolve the problem and complete its work.
As you know, the Year 2000 problem is primarily associated with hardware, software, and other devices programmed to determine the year using the last two digits only. When January 1, 2000 arrives, many of these systems, which may include research databases, will assume that it's 1900 and cause problems with all non-year 2000 compliant systems and/or data.
In addition to the more easily identified problem of date routines and calculations performed by computers of all sizes, problems will also occur with devices not traditionally viewed as computers or computing devices. These devices and systems have embedded processors which may or may not use date or time values to calculate or otherwise influence the operation of the equipment they control. Examples include laboratory equipment and various types of diagnostic, analytic, metric, and other specialized equipment or instrumentation of all shapes, sizes, and functionality. Copy, postage, and fax machines, alarm systems, and other devices may also contain embedded processors.
The University of Pennsylvania's Year 2000 Working Group has been established to provide leadership and direction of Penn's Year 2000 initiative and to assist you in ensuring that Penn's computer systems, applications, and other devices are Year 2000 compliant. Our internal target for completion of this effort is December 31, 1998, so that time will be available to test interfaces with external vendors and/or suppliers and to develop contingency plans where required. By leveraging complimentary resources in each school and center, the Working Group serves as a mechanism for, among other things, sharing ideas, best practices, lessons learned, keeping others informed, and raising awareness among all faculty, students, and staff. Following are the names of individuals in each school and center who are leading their school/center efforts. They are there to help you. Please contact them directly with any school/center questions or concerns; take a look at the University WWW site (www.upenn.edu/computing/year2000); or contact Associate Vice President Robin Beck (beck@isc) or Project Coordinator Michael Kearney (mkearney@isc), both of Information Systems and Computing.
In many cases, the past year has been one of "raising awareness." This academic year must become the year of action for all. We must acknowledge the magnitude of the problem and the importance of preparation, remediation and contingency planning at all levels. We must understand and take action to remediate Year 2000 "time bombs." Any other view is short-sighted and highly detrimental to the ability of the University to carry out its mission.
-- Michael Wachter, Interim Provost
-- John Fry, Executive Vice President
Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 6, October 6, 1998