Tuesday, January 19, 1999



Software
woes put a kink
in Legislature's
computers

The upgraded system
won't be up to snuff for
another year

Online directory to
legislators and their offices
By Richard Borreca
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

After two years of work and $1.5 million in public funds to upgrade the Legislature's computer system, a series of just-discovered software problems will delay the user-friendly system for one more year.

1999 Hawaii State Legislature To further confuse matters, the state's other legislative computer system, Ho'iki, run by the Legislative Reference Bureau and used by the counties and state agencies to track legislation, was abandoned at the end of 1998 because it could not calculate Year 2000 date changes.

The good news is that the promise to allow the public easier electronic access to the Legislature will be kept.

Legislative leaders say KPMG Peat Marwick, the project contractor, will continue to support the old system for another year.

While legislative aides will be saddled with an obscure, difficult-to-master computer software called Mass-11, the public is expected to have increased legislative information and access through the Internet.

The Legislature's two clerks, Patricia Mau-Shimizu, House clerk, and Paul Kawaguchi, Senate clerk, told legislators in December that the new system, which would allow all documents, bills and committee reports to be handled in Microsoft Word format, will have to be delayed a year.

"We have identified environmental and software weaknesses, which may or may not be resolved in a timely manner to the satisfaction of the drafters in the Legislative Reference Bureau, the House and the Senate," the clerks told lawmakers in a Dec. 17 memo.

Robin Lineberger, a KPMG Peat Marwick partner, added that his firm will compensate the state for the costs of running the old system, at least through the end of the 1999 session.

No cost estimates were available.

KPMG will also provide technical consulting services to help run the old computer system and then convert documents created this year to the new system for the 2000 Legislature.

Lineberger noted that the Legislature has made a public commitment to increase its public accessibility.

"We will work with your technical staff to install a solution, which makes the bills, resolutions, hearing notices and other documents generated by the Hawaii Legislature during its 1999 session available on the Internet," he said in a letter to the lawmakers.

State Sen. David Ige, one of the Legislature's leaders in improving Internet access, says he was concerned and disappointed when he heard about the delays.

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