New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division Struck by Y2K "Cousin" : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Please pardon if this is a repost - Jen

Monday, January 3, 2000 Y2K 'Cousin' Strikes MVD

By Deborah Baker The Associated Press

SANTA FE -- Many New Mexico Motor Vehicles Division offices could not issue driver's licenses Monday, and state officials said the problem was indirectly related to Y2K.

The problem occurred when the Taxation and Revenue Department fixed a problem with the new graduated driver's license system that took effect Jan. 1 -- and inadvertently removed some Y2K protection as well.

"We did, in fact, inconvenience some people, but it's a small number of people," said Gordon Eden, director of the Motor Vehicles Division.

Nearly all MVD offices were unable to issue licenses at the start of the work day, officials said. By noon, the problem had been corrected in about 30 of the 66 field offices.

The problem was discovered Sunday during testing, officials said. "It's a distant cousin of the Y2K issue," said Ed Romero, director of the department's Administrative Services Division. The glitch affected only driver's licenses, not other services such as vehicle registration. Officials could not say how many customers were turned away.

The graduated driver's license (GDL) and Y2K programs were installed in the division's 350 computers at the same time and were interwoven. At the end of last week, MVD learned that the GDL program would have caused problems for as many as 8,000 teen-agers who finished driver's education programs last month and were eligible for unrestricted licenses but who did not go to MVD offices by Dec. 31.

They would have been refused licenses and told to start the process over again under the new, more restrictive licensing system, Eden said.

When the department fixed that problem, some of the Y2K protection was removed.

At the Cottonwood Mall in Albuquerque, there was double trouble. Even after the computer problems were fixed, an ID photo camera was on the blink, and driver's license applicants continued to be turned away. MVD officials said the camera problem was unrelated to Y2K.

"I'm sad because I don't get my license, but I guess I can wait," said Sarah Jones, 15, who spent more than an hour in the office before she discovered she couldn't get her license.

"I feel kind of bad," said Karim Jiwani. "I've had to come here twice."

The teen-ager said he tried to get a license last week, but the lines were too long.

The MVD experience proved "absolutely" that "the Y2K fixes were necessary," said Jim Hall, the state computer czar who prepared state agency computers for the 1999-2000 rollover.

Removing the Y2K protection apparently did cause a rollover problem for the MVD computer when the year turned from '99 to '00, he said. Some computer experts had warned for years that technicians needed to prepare for the rollover because some computers might confuse '00 with 1900 instead of 2000.

"Hindsight being pretty good," he said, "it might have been better to put the two changes in separately. We pushed pretty hard, and like a lot of state agencies we were pretty short of people. It seemed a pretty good idea at the time."

"This interruption in service is really too bad, and I wish it hadn't happened," Hall said.

But he said he would not be surprised to see a couple of other problems on a similar scale somewhere in state government over the next week or two.

"It's unrealistic to think we won't have any level of problem," he said.

-- Jennifer Bunker (Salt Lake City, Utah) (, January 07, 2000

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