It's not Y2K, but to county it feels like it

Published March 7, 2007

NEW PORT RICHEY - Pasco techies have spent more than 300 hours making sure critical services don't go awry Sunday. Ten people, in fact, will be on guard for system failure that day.

What, pray tell, comes Sunday?

The clocks roll forward an hour for daylight saving time.

Time-change day comes three weeks earlier this year, thanks to a decision by Congress meant to increase sunlight hours and reduce energy costs.

Someone, however, forgot to tell a lot of clocks. Many computerized clocks were programmed without taking into account someone changing the day to change times.

The problem is harmless enough on coffeemakers, car radio displays and wall clocks. But Pasco government, like a lot of governments, has lots of clocks that do important things.

911 service? Needs the clocks right.

E-mails for customer service? Need the right time.

Paychecks for hourly employees? Very important to get the time right.

During the past few weeks, the county spent $4,000 on a patch from Microsoft and received free software changes from other makers to reset all of the clocks on:

-140 servers

-467 workstations

-518 thin clients (computers run on servers)

-1,100 exchange calendars

-131 BlackBerrys

-182 Cisco network routing devices

According to Heather Grimes, the county's acting chief information officer, there are two ways to look at the situation.

"The main thing to note is that we are fortunate that the County has taken the steps to keep up with technology and replace old hardware and software on a regular schedule," Grimes wrote in an e-mail to Mike Nurrenbrock, the county's budget director.

Or there's this perspective.

"If we wouldn't have taken this route we could have been up a creek without a paddle."

David DeCamp can be reached at (727) 869-6232 or ddecamp@sptimes.com.