Ready or not ... Featured

9:56am EDT July 22, 2002

At first, it sounds like good news: Ohio’s largest government agencies are set to be Year 2000 compliant by December. Whew! Problem is, the state’s fiscal year will roll over to “00” July 1.

According to information compiled by the state, at least six state agencies — including the departments of development, insurance and transportation — don’t expect all their Y2K fixes to be complete until August or later. Another five agencies are scheduled to have their Y2K computer updates completed in July.

The issue here is whether databases tracking information by fiscal years in those departments will be ready for the mid-year roll over.

Fred Dowdy, Y2K administrator for the State of Ohio’s Year 2000 Competency Center, says his organization, which does overall monitoring of the state’s Y2K projects, doesn’t maintain enough in-depth knowledge of each department’s day-to-day operating procedures to know what specific state documents or databases might be in jeopardy.

David Fuhrman, deputy director of information technology for the Ohio Department of Transportation, says he’s confident his agency is prepared.

“There are some systems that are subject to fiscal year 2000 concern and we think we have those covered,” he says. “The construction estimates system would fall into that category, the program development management system, current billing ... Those have already been converted and tested and they’re currently functioning.” In fact, dates beyond fiscal 2000 have already been entered into some of them, he adds.

Lito Ramirez of the Ohio Department of Insurance is a bit more vague regarding that agency’s readiness.

“We have identified several databases that are kept on a fiscal year basis and we are working with outside consultants to assure that those particular databases, as well as the department’s entire data system, are Y2K compliant,” Ramirez says. “Special focus” will be given during testing this spring to databases kept on a fiscal year, Ramirez adds, noting that “this is a top project” of the department’s IT division.

As for the Ohio Department of Development, David Saffle, the Y2K project director there, says business owners need not worry.

“We keep a lot of records by fiscal years, but a lot we don’t keep with a fiscal year date in them,” he says. In other words, dates are entered by calendar year, but when it’s time to run, say, the 1999 fiscal year report, the computer will be instructed to run all records dated July 1, 1998 to June 30, 1999. By doing this, the department actually buys itself an extra year since fiscal 2000 reports won’t be due until June 30, 2000.


Go ahead; speak out

Here’s your chance to tell state legislators what’s on your mind as a business owner in Ohio.

During Small Business Day at the Capitol, scheduled for May 18 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Columbus, business owners will get an opportunity to speak directly to lawmakers and their staffs — either through private, pre-scheduled meetings or at a legislative reception during the conference.

In addition, Gov. Bob Taft is scheduled to speak during the conference luncheon.

Other topics expected to be discussed during Small Business Day at the Capitol include electric deregulation, Year 2000 issues, influencing government and small business taxation.

For more information, contact B.J. Wiberg at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce at (614) 228-4201 or visit www.ohiochamber.com on the Web.


Trading places

Ohio business owners already doing — or wanting to do — business in Chile or Argentina now have state allies in those countries.

Ohio, in cooperation with the Council of Great Lakes Governors, has established international trade offices in Santiago, Chile, and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

As one of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s “Big Emerging Markets,” Argentina has seen a dramatic increase in imports coming from Ohio. In 1997, Ohio firms exported more than $165.8 million in goods to Argentina, according to the Ohio Department of Development. That was a 433 percent increase from 1991 levels, department figures show.

As for Chile, Ohio companies exported more than $149.9 million in goods to that South American country in 1997, a 141 percent increase from 1991 levels.

An annual $25,000 outlay from Ohio’s general fund is expected to cover Ohio’s share of the expenses to operate these two new trade offices. State governments in Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are expected to contribute similar sums.

For more information about these or other international trade offices supported by the State of Ohio, call (614) 466-5017 or visit the International Trade Division on the Internet at ohiotrade.tpusa.com/.