- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 4, 2000

The District of Columbia entered the new year with no systemic computer problems nor any other glitches, Mayor Anthony A. Williams said yesterday.

Paychecks, services, traffic lights and other infrastructure worked through the weekend and during the first day of the work week, too, Mr. Williams said.

"We made national headlines because we started so far behind. But today I believe our government is running full speed," Mr. Williams said yesterday. "We tested 95 percent of our systems and found them to be running normally."

Government and businesses in Virginia and Maryland also rolled through the first work day of the new year with no problems reported from the year-2000 computer glitch.

The city, which has been beset with computer problems long before 2000, did not begin preparing seriously for year-2000 problems until July 1998. So far, the city estimates expenses related to the year 2000 were $140 million.

"It wasn't just blind luck that everything worked well this weekend. It was the result of months of preparation, thousands of hours of work and, yes, a lot of money, I will admit that," Mr. Williams said.

Chief Technology Officer Suzanne Peck said the city cut tax-refund checks, held two lottery drawings and moved customers through the Department of Motor Vehicles without any unusual computer problems.

"The only thing I could get anybody to say was we had a blinking yellow light in the city," Ms. Peck said. "And I would say it probably was not Y2K-related."

Just to see what would happen, the District kept its old traffic-control computer system operating but not connected to any of the lights. When the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve, the computer rolled over to Jan. 1, 1900, Ms. Peck said.

"It did go bad. What it would have done is undetermined but improper," she said.

Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III kept state offices closed yesterday so technicians could test computer systems before resuming operations. No state agencies reported any problems yesterday, said Bette H. Dillehay, director of the state's Century Date Change Initiative Project Office. That includes the Department of Education, which was monitoring all local school districts.

"There were a lot of state employees who worked over the holidays, and today is still a holiday, but we notice some very full parking lots," Miss Dillehay said yesterday. "We had no Y2K-related incidents reported over that entire period… . All the agencies have brought in people to begin the checks to make sure programs are functioning."

She had no count of how many state employees worked yesterday, but said some offices that rely heavily on technology had up to half of their workers on duty.

Virginia spent an estimated $211 million preparing for the year-2000 bug.

At Cenit Bank in Norfolk, Va., spokesman Steve Kocen said yesterday was "pretty much a standard banking day." The bank had three branches open Sunday as well, with no problems reported, Mr. Kocen said.

The state did not escape entirely glitch-free, however. In Hampton, the AMC Hampton Towne Center movie theater had trouble with some credit cards Sunday, although it's not clear that the problem was a year-2000 problem.

Cynthia Price, a senior manager with AMC, said on Sunday the theater couldn't accept some credit cards that expire between June and December. It seemed to accept most cards that expired earlier in 2000 or in future years. Miss Price estimated that 20 customers were unable to use their cards.

Maryland government officials said small business and retailers were at greatest risk for problems after the year-2000 rollover, but it appeared they emerged without serious difficulties.

At EGlobal TeleHealth, an Internet-based health care company in Gaithersburg that is involved in home health and telemedicine, the in-house technical staff did some reprogramming to make sure access security was year-2000 compliant.

"We took our systems down Friday afternoon and rebooted Saturday. Everything was perfectly fine," said Bob Kornhauser, company vice president. "It's been painless."

Keene Motors in Baltimore had a minor year-2000 problem that didn't affect its normal operations.

Office manager Chris Dembinksy said a single computer shut down, but was expected to be fixed by today

The first day back to work was equally uneventful for commuters.

Maryland's Mass Transit Administration reported no delays. MARC trains and light-rail trains in Baltimore were all on time.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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