Another phase of challenges ICT Phase II In the year 1582, inaccuracies in the measurement of time had thrown official dating two weeks out of sync with astronomical reality. The Catholic church needed a new and more accurate way to determine the start of its annual Easter rituals. But when Pope Gregory XIII ordered the adoption of a new style calendar, since spread into general use throughout the world, he was unwittingly creating a problem for later and more technical societies in the 21st century. Team efforts What's NewS Issue 1 January/February 2000 True, by replacing the Julian calendar with the Gregorian, he restored a closer correspondence between the calendar and the actual seasons - and therefore the celehration dates for movable Catholic feasts. Pope Gregory instituted a 'leap day' once every four years. Also, to maintain a more precise link with the actual length of the solar year, he proclaimed an additional 'leap day' for all centuries evenly divisible by 400. The restdt of his ecclesiastical procla mation is that our year 2000 ranks among the exceptional leap years (as did the year 1600). However, this obscure fact was not one that every computer systems designer took into account when producing software and machines. Indeed, this historie tie between religion, cosmology, and computers explains why Rabobankers - who successfully negotiated the first millennium transi- tion with flying colors - are now being asked to once again mohilize their resources to make sure that the second and final transition is overcome just as smoothly as the first (which was so much more heavily publicized). 'There's an understandable weariness with the whole millennium issue,' remarks Hans Reusch, the millennium project manager. 'We have all worked terribly hard and we managed admirably to avoid any serious millennium disturbances during the first transition. The strong temptation is to sit hack and assume that the whole problem has been solved. This is not quite the case. We've done well so far, hut we're not out of the woods yet.' Indeed, this continuing (if somewhat di- minished) concern lies behind an ongoing, ntodified freeze on the installation of new 1T systems. While the moratorian through 3 I March, 2000 has been lifted because of system stability, no implementations, except for emergency bug fixes, will be al- lowed between 23 February and 6 March (which has been designated as Phase II in the millennium challenge). Strict measures aimed at minimizing millennium related credit risk are being kept in place and Phase II will involve a range of reporting and other precautionary procedures that are intended to obviate any unexpected updated transition period plans (TPP-IIs) as well as business continuity plans. In the period leading tip to the transition, offices are also expected to review earlier Y2K test reports to see if any special actions need to be taken before and after 29 February, and to submit contin- gency plans for communication, both internally and externally, in the event of actual crisis. This is all common sense. The second document distributed by the millennium program team is a checklist to assess the func- tional readiness of particular software applications: i.e., their ability to handle dates between 28 February through I March. (This document suggests such questions as whether the application has been specifically tested for dates that fall within the second transi tion period, whether the interfaces have been functionally 'chain tested,' whether interest rate calculations have been consistently applied, and so forth.) We've tried to keep all of this as simple as possible,' says Reusch. 'While there is certainly no need to duplicate all of the effort that we've already put into the Y2K issue, there are some clear and necessary checks that definitely need to be made. And the offices will need to maintain discipline in their re porting procedures. The key point is that we shouldn't underestimate the situation. We might sail through once again with flying colors. But this second transition could also prove more challenging than the first. Don't forget: the leap year will occur in midweek. We need to be well pre- pared because, unlike the first transition, there will be no weekend comfort zone to cushion us if anything goes wrong.' surprises stem ming front the extraordinary leap year it- self. 'It is crucial that we remain vigilant,' says administration chief Alain Younes. The millennium program team has also distributed two docuntents to help offices in their preparations for this event. The first is a schedule of activities that needs to be completed during the third week of February, in the run up to the transition itself. For instance, offices need to specify which members of staff will be available or on call during the switchover, and draw up a clear list of responsibilities. They are also expected to draw up and submit

Rabobank Bronnenarchief

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