Escalating Year 2000 problems may force the UK Inland Revenue to use paper lists to chase debts.
A non compliant debt management system will not be replaced until 29 November, slipping from a September target date. If the tests or the implementation fail, then Inland Revenue will be forced to chase debts from paper lists generated by a mainframe application, according to a spokeswoman.
The implementation date gives Inland Revenue only 23 working days to iron out the problems that will almost certainly occur with the new system.
The new software, which is designed to help agents collect income tax and National Insurance contributions from businesses, will be tested for a week in four regional offices starting on 25 October. If successful, it will be deployed nationally to 6,000 users in 150 locations throughout the UK by the end of November.
People close to the project suggest that problems integrating the new system with a system to record case notes have caused data to be lost. While the Revenue denied this, it declined to discuss any integration issues.
EDS, Inland Revenue's outsourcer, was not available for comment earlier this week.
Robin Guenier, executive director of industry watchdog Taskforce 2000, described the last minute rollout as "extraordinarily late". Guenier said that he was now getting "quite worried" about government bodies' readiness for the millennium.
"People are only dimly beginning to understand what millennium problems will be like," he said. "The Year 2000 problem is a management problem, not a date problem. The Inland Revenue is just another Passport Office fiasco, which the government denied was a Year 2000 problem when it clearly was."
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