The University Record, June 10, 1998

Reps asked to assess how units will be affected by Y2K bug

By Bruce Spiher
Information Technology Division

It's easy to tell academic and administrative units on campus that they are responsible for dealing with the Year 2000 (Y2K) Millennium Bug. But it takes real support to help them deal with Y2K issues at the unit level. At the University, that commitment was made at the highest level last December when a Committee to Review Year 2000 Impact was established. Members of this Committee are Jose-Marie Griffiths, the University's chief information officer and executive director of the Information Technology Division (ITD); Robert Moenart, University comptroller; Laura Patterson, M-Pathways project director; and Glenna Schweitzer, director of budget administration.

This committee was given the task of ensuring that appropriate action is taken campuswide so that all systems are reviewed. To handle this monumental task, each unit was asked to appoint someone to work with the committee on Y2K issues. Griffiths recently said that units on campus need to be concerned, saying, "It is vitally important that every unit at the University of Michigan discover what the Year 2000 Millennium Bug means for them. They need to assess its impact on their critical functions, gather relevant information and then determine a solution for each of those critical functions. Units should not assume that the Year 2000 problem won't affect them."

The Committee to Review Year 2000 Impact also created a working group to develop tools and training to help the Y2K unit representatives tackle the Y2K problem.

Three training sessions were held recently to help unit representatives better understand the Year 2000 problem, its potential impact on their units, how to use the tools on the Y2K Web site ( that have been developed for them and the responsibilities of unit Y2K representatives.

Moenart, who helped conduct the Y2K training, said, "These training sessions have been well received by the participating unit representatives. They helped everyone understand the scope of the issue and, by example, some of the subtleties surrounding the Year 2000 problem. These sessions provided a common basis of understanding that will help the University address the Year 2000 issue as we approach the millennium."

The role of the Y2K representatives is vital to the University's effort to manage the Millennium Bug. Said Gloria Thiele, a member of the University's Y2K working committee and ITD's Year 2000 project coordinator, "The primary responsibility of the Y2K unit representatives is to make sure that critical business processes in their units will work on January 1, 2000. They must let the Committee to Review Year 2000 Impact know the results of their assessments by July 1 this year, so that steps can be taken to deal with the problem areas that are identified."

According to Beth Warner, Y2K representative for the University Library who completed the Year 2000 training in May, the training sessions were "very helpful, especially in terms of learning details of what University units have already done or have in-process." Warner, the Library's interim assistant director for technical, access and systems services, added, "It also helped clarify the role and responsibilities of the unit Y2K representatives."

After completing the Y2K training, Tom Biggs, Y2K representative from the U-M Health System, said that his challenge is how to get Y2K information out to other hospital employees. The Health System has been focused on the Y2K issue for many months and already has a steering committee, three project leaders, four project teams and an outside Year 2000 consultant hired to help them manage the project. Said Biggs, "We are in the process of completing our awareness, our inventory, project management and project workplan. Once they are completed, the hard work of identifying, correcting and testing begins.

"Our team is really engaged with this issue!" said Biggs, interim chief finance officer for the Hospitals and Health Centers.

What's next for the Y2K representatives? After the unit assessments have been completed July 1, they will develop unit action plans to resolve the problems that have been identified. Y2K representatives have formed three work groups that will examine significant problems and possible alternatives, assess interdependencies and their impacts; and deal with vendor relationships. U-M's Y2K unit representatives are actively engaged in addressing this important issue. Completing the unit assessments is only the first step in dealing with the Year 2000 problem.

A complete listing of the University's Year 2000 unit representatives can be found on the Y2K Web site: