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Payroll department ready for Y2K

MIT's Year 2000 team wants to let the community know about the Institute's preparations for the year 2000 by publishing periodic updates from a variety of areas about their readiness for Y2K. This article provides some information from the Controller's Accounting Office (CAO).

Not surprisingly, one of the questions MIT employees have raised with Year 2000 team members is whether the Institute's payroll system will work properly when 1999 becomes 2000. Essentially, people want to know if their checks will be issued and direct deposits made to their banks without problems.

Employees don't need to worry, because Payroll got an early start on resolving Y2K issues, according to Frederick Crowley, assistant controller. "The changes to make our payroll system Y2K-compliant have actually been operational since October 1998," he said.

All of MIT's different payrolls have been successfully tested. In addition, Payroll has conducted tests (with BankBoston) of MIT's direct deposits of salaries for employees and the pension payroll system for retirees. BankBoston is MIT's Federal Reserve electronic funds deposit sponsor. This means that BankBoston verifies the data and then sends the information to the Federal Reserve's electronic clearinghouse system, which deals with the other banks that MIT community members use.

Testing of the direct deposit system involved using a special computer whose clock was set forward to dates in January and February 2000, according to Suna Gulen, senior analyst programmer and Y2K coordinator in the Controller's Accounting Office. (February testing is important because the year 2000 is also a leap year.) Test payroll data from the mainframe computer were downloaded to this test machine and the direct deposit data were then forwarded to the bank to determine if everything worked properly.

"The testing was successful, and the next step is that BankBoston will certify that in writing to MIT," Ms. Gulen said.

The MIT Audit Division has reviewed Payroll's Y2K project and is satisfied with the results.

"We are doing everything possible to ensure that the MIT Payroll system is Y2K-compliant," Mr. Crowley said. "Simply as a precautionary measure, we will continue to test payrolls by pre-processing them through the end of calendar year 2000."

For updates on Y2K issues at MIT, see the web site at

This document is a "Year 2000 Readiness Disclosure" as defined in the Year 2000 Information and Readiness Disclosure Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-271, 112 Stat. 2386).

A version of this article appeared in the June 9, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 33).

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