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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pension Fund's Y2K Battle Starts

Taking on an assignment so complex it left Russian experts scratching their heads, Phoenix, Arizona-based Corporate Computing Services has been commissioned to fix the Russian pension fund's year 2000 problems.

The U.S. firm was brought here by Silver Ring, an organization of Russian professionals who support the country's social sector through various volunteer programs. Corporate Computing has been brought in specifically to tackle the computer systems of the Social Insurance Fund, the Russian federal government organization responsible for paying pensions and covering the medical needs of invalids.

Experts with the Social Insurance Fund tried for two years to resolve the year 2000 problem but they couldn't handle the old data and gave up, Silver Ring officials said. The gigantic computer system is run by 18,000 people at 1,000 sites throughout Russia.

"The situation in Russia is severe and we needed help from the other side [the United States]," said Valery Petrosyan, vice president of Silver Ring. The nonprofit group got involved because it saw the state was doing very little to prepare for the 2000 bug in the social sector.

So in stepped Corporate Computing Services, tackling a multimillion-dollar assignment CCS officials say is bigger than all of the company's previous 15 years of projects put together. Among its other projects, the firm has worked for the New York City Housing Authority, the city of Milwaukee and San Diego State University.

CCS is optimistic that its top-notch team of computer experts and Y2K Virtual Factory back in Arizona will make the fund's computers 2000 compliant before Jan. 1.

"It is going to take a long time," acknowledged Sarabjit Grewal, vice president of international operations at CCS, adding that his team was aiming to complete the job in about six months.

Solving the fund's problem manually would take no less than a year and would be plagued by human error, CCS officials said. Therefore, the computer company came up with a more efficient way to solve the problem f software robots known as automated tools.

"We have devised automated tools that will identify the data fields in the programs and carry out the conversion," Grewal said.

CCS declined to say how much the project would cost the Russian government, saying only that it would run into the tens of millions of dollars.

To fix the problem, CCS is sending teams of experts to each of the fund's 1,000 centers to compile program information. After extensive analysis and testing, the data will be sent to CCS' mainframe in Arizona, where a solution will be created to neutralize the bug.

Then, the solution will be sent back to Russia for the programming "fixes" to be applied to the Social Insurance Fund's computer systems by CCS workers in concert with the fund's programmers.

Finally, a series of tests will be run to make sure that the solution works.

After that, the Russian government will face the traditional task of finding the money to pay pensions, but at least it will be sure of whom is owed what.