The Inland Revenue has apologised for wrongly threatening to seize goods from a law abiding business following a software glitch.
Problems in implementing Year 2000 compliant software prompted the Revenue mistakenly to threaten the firm with the bailiffs.
In correspondence seen by Computing, the Revenue said that implementing new desktop software as part of the Infrastructure 2000 (I2K) project is "causing extreme problems within the Inland Revenue, particularly this office and [has] been for some time now."
I2K has caused system crashes preventing users from accessing up to date information. It is part of the Revenue's ongoing Year 2000 compliance efforts and has been outsourced to EDS.
The warning was sent after a Revenue employee at the Bradford Midland tax district office was unable to see that the Yorkshire company had paid, even though it electronically pays its national insurance and income tax contributions via an automated clearance system.
The case highlights the problems of implementing new systems to eradicate Year 2000 issues.
Robin Guenier, executive director of independent body Taskforce 2000, said: "Anybody who knows anything about software development knows it always goes wrong, is late and introduces new bugs. Also, even if you successfully install the latest version, it doesn't solve problems from importing data with two digit years. What you need to solve these problems is time, and the Inland Revenue hasn't given itself that option."
I2K will roll out 55,000 new desktops across the UK. More than 40,000 have so far been installed, in 350 offices. But it is not due for completion until November, which Guenier described as "worrying".
The Revenue has also started its year 2000 contingency plan, OSR Release 13, which is scheduled to finish next month.
A Revenue spokeswoman stressed that I2K is still performing within service level agreements set with EDS.
The latest National Infrastructure Forum, organised by government millennium watchdog Action 2000, says that the 'tax sector' reported 62 per cent of companies were given amber ratings for Year 2000 readiness, indicating they were still at some risk of material disruption to infrastructure process from the date change.
The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee's 36th report into the millennium threat, published yesterday, recommends that bodies posing some risk should be named and shamed.
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