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Contact: Steve Jensen

State Comptroller Nancy Wyman today announced that her agency will complete a major "Year 2000 bug" computer conversion project for millions of dollars less than projected, and attributed the savings to state employees who attacked the problem early and with minimal outside consulting expense.

One consultant had estimated the cost of the project at up to $6 million. Wyman, however, said that using her staff to do the bulk of the work instead of paying expensive outside contractors should keep the bill at about $750,000.

Wyman, the state's chief fiscal guardian, made the Year 2000 problem a priority upon taking office and began the conversion project in late 1996, well ahead of most other agencies and private businesses nationwide.

"I am proud that we had the vision to attack this problem early and to use the skills of our own staff to save taxpayer dollars," Wyman said. "This shows what kind of results we can achieve when management and employees work together. As far as I'm concerned, the millennium has already arrived in the Comptroller's office."

Wyman made the announcement at a press conference where she was joined by many staff members working on the project, designed to prevent computer processing problems on Jan. 1, 2000. The computer system in the Comptroller's office handles more than $15 billion of transactions yearly, including the state's payroll and all payments to vendors.

Wyman said the success of the project not only demonstrates the ability of the state's computer specialists, but is evidence that the state should reconsider a proposal to spend an estimated $1 billion to have most computer operations taken over by a private vendor.

"This project is a prime example of the talent and experience we have in our state offices right now," Wyman said. "I believe that we need to rethink whether the state should spend a billion dollars of taxpayers' money on an untested vendor motivated by profit."

Experts had estimated the cost of the project at between $1.2 million and $6 million. And while analysts had projected that the Comptroller's office would need to spend nearly $800,000 on outside consultants to finish the conversion, Wyman said she expects to pay less than $200,000 in consulting fees.

Two of the agencys' major computer systems - which handle accounting functions and administers the payroll and benefits for state retirees - are currently Year 2000 ready. The final phase of the project, upgrading the computer system that handles the payroll for all state employees, is scheduled to be completed by early next year.

Wyman said she also is willing to have the employees who worked on the project assist other agencies in their Year 2000 conversions.

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For Immediate Release
August 4, 1998
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