El Dorado County ranks high nationwide in Y2K preparedness | TahoeDailyTribune.com

El Dorado County ranks high nationwide in Y2K preparedness

The year 2000 is coming sooner than expected in El Dorado County, and Bill Shultz is ready for the Y2K fallout.

Schultz, the Elected Recorder-Clerk for El Dorado County, is in charge of the county’s Y2K task force. His team has been laboring for almost three years to bring the county’s myriad computer and information services into Y2K compliance, and on Sept. 9, all of his team’s efforts will be put to the test.

“That’s the date that we will have our tabletop exercise,” said Schultz, who presented county government’s Y2K update to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “Basically, it will be a team training exercise, in which we will simulate scenarios which may occur on Jan. 1. We hope to have all of our department contingency plans in place by that time (Sept. 9).”

The exercise is actually a simulated disaster scenario, focusing on communications strategies during a mock county-wide crisis. The State Office of Emergency Services will be involved, as will several fire protection districts, county sheriffs departments and other law enforcement agencies. Local Ham and CB operators will also take part.

Although a recent state survey shows that many small counties (by population) are lagging behind in Y2K preparedness, El Dorado County was rated as one of the best prepared to date.

“There are no show-stoppers,” said Schultz, referring to possible Y2K technical problems which could shut down county services such as traffic lights, security alarms or vital computer operations. PC inventory is 95 percent compliant, and software inventory is 96 percent complete.

Detailed information on the county’s Y2K efforts may be obtained on the Web at http://www.co.el-dorado.ca.us/y2k.html.

“We’ve been working on this for a long time, and I feel that we have a good handle on it,” said Schultz, a former air traffic controller for the U.S. Navy. “We feel that we have the critical areas under control. But there are many little things still to check.”

And county officials have been aware of this for some time. The Board of Supervisors set a $443,000 Y2K budget in 1996, and the county recently installed a new computer system, which has been up and running for more than a year.

One might think that the dreaded Y2K Bug would not be much of a concern in bucolic El Dorado County, with its rolling hills and rural flavor. But the computer plays an integral role in keeping the county running. All the “paperwork” that keeps county government moving – legal recording, vital statistics, marriage licenses, communications systems, payroll, and a hundred others – are all kept on computer. And those systems which may have date-sensitive software must be checked to ensure that they will continue to function when the clock ticks over to the year 2000.

Shultz is in charge of testing all 1,677 of the county government’s personal computers – a task which his team recently completed.

In addition, the county has contacted its many vendors – from corporations such as Office Max and IBM to small companies who provide the county with an array of services – to make sure of their Y2K status. By Schultz’s count, that was about 6,000 letters.

“Our philosophy has been that Y2K is no reason to panic,” Schultz said. “But it is a reason to be prudent. There’s going to be some problems, that’s a given.

“But this is normal living for folks like us up here in the foothills and the mountains. We’re used to being prepared. That’s especially true for you guys up there at Tahoe. Most of the people I know up there have a week’s supply of stuff on hand anyway.

“The most important thing is to take care of your family,” he said. “Go over emergency procedures in case something happens while you’re at work. Get a dialogue going with your family.”

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