Revenue shrugs off Y2K alert

The Inland Revenue this week challenged the findings of a Taskforce risk of Inland Revenue’s year-2000 IT project failing. 2000 report that raised ‘warning flags’ about the Revenue’s IT preparations for the year 2000.

‘Budget and time pressure are forcing more applications off the critical list,’ said report author and Taskforce 2000 assistant director Ian Hugo.

Undetected knock-on problems through 1999 could cause ‘death by attrition’ of public sector IT systems, he warned.

The Revenue was one of several government departments where the risk of its year-2000 project failing had increased, according to the Taskforce 2000 report. The Revenue had received a clean bill of health in June, but progress reports filed with the government’s technology agency, the CCTA, gave Taskforce 2000 cause to review the assessment.

The deadline for integrated testing of the Revenue’s IT infrastructure has been set back from March to June 1999.

In an effort to ensure critical systems are ready in time, the Revenue removed its Desktop 2000 renovation project from the year-2000 programme.

The Revenue had decided to exclude systems which were being rebuilt in their own right from the year-2000 programme, said a spokesman.

As a result of this and unused contingency allowances, the remedial cost estimate had dropped by a third to #16m.

‘That is a genuine saving, but still leaves us wondering about the critical systems that disappeared off the screen,’ said Taskforce 2000.

Preparations at the Revenue’s Valuation Office Agency also aroused Taskforce 2000’s concern. As a result of slippage to September 1999 and a 65% increase in its cost estimate, Taskforce 2000 moved the Valuation Office’s year-2000 programme from the medium to high-risk category.

The Revenue said the delay was because the testing programme would be tied in with an upgrade to the underlying Oracle forms system.

Taskforce 2000 concluded that the government’s #370m estimate for fixing its own IT systems ‘is becoming increasingly untenable’. Individual departmental estimates had pushed the figure up to #400m, but ‘cost creep’ was likely to inflate the overall budget by a factor of two or three.

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