For information
10 May 1999

Legislative Council Welfare Services Panel Progress of Year 2000 (Y2K) Compliance Exercise in Social Welfare Organisations


This paper informs Members of the latest position of Year 2000 compliance work in the Health and Welfare Bureau (HWB), the Social Welfare Department (SWD) and in non-government organisations (NGOs) providing essential social welfare services.

Progress in the Health and Welfare Bureau

2. As at March 1999, the Residential Care Services Delivery System for the Elderly, which is a mission-critical computer system for managing the central waiting list for residential care services for the elderly provided by SWD and the Hospital Authority, had been rectified and confirmed to be Y2K compliant.

Progress within the Social Welfare Department

3. Since starting its Y2K project in November 1997, SWD has worked closely with Information Technology Service Department, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, Office of the Telecommunications Authority and consultants in identifying the extent of the Y2K problem and implementing rectification work. Within the SWD, a Y2K project team has been established in the Information Systems and Technology Branch (ISTB) to manage both the department's Y2K project and the Y2K Joint Initiative with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS). The ISTB Y2K Project Management Team reports on Y2K progress to a departmental Y2K Monitoring Group that includes representatives from HWB, ITSD and the HKCSS and is chaired by DSW.

4. As at 15 March 1999, 43 of SWD's 51 mission-critical computer and embedded systems had been confirmed Y2K compliant or rectified. The remaining 8 systems will be rectified by the end of June 1999. They are -

  1. an Interactive Voice Processing System which is SWD's Hotline;

  2. five Central Referral Systems in respect of :

    1. placement of maladjusted children;

    2. four rehabilitation services (aged blind; discharged mental patients; disabled pre-schoolers; physically handicapped, deaf and blind clients) which will be replaced by one system;

  3. registry system for sheltered workshop and day activity centre clients; and

  4. Government office automation system.
5. The most important mission-critical system in SWD is the Social Security Payment System (SSPS) which processes the payment of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance and Social Security Allowance. It has already been rectified and is now Y2K compliant. Both the Hong Kong Bank and the Treasury have confirmed that their interfaces with the SSPS are Y2K compliant.

6. To enhance public understanding, publicity and promotional efforts will be made by publishing compliance information through various channels such as the SWD Internet home page and media briefings.

Progress in Social Welfare NGOs

7. To facilitate co-operation between SWD and HKCSS in addressing the Y2K problem in funded and regulated NGOs providing essential social welfare services, the SWD/HKCSS Y2K Joint Initiative was launched in May 1998. Grants totalling $4.5 million were obtained from the Lotteries Fund to support the Joint Initiative.

8. The HKCSS IT Resource Centre has also implemented a Y2K Website. SWD and HKCSS will continue to distribute Y2K information and advice direct to NGOs and through the Internet.

9. The SWD/HKCSS Y2K Joint Initiative comprises two phases. The first phase, which started in mid-1998, aimed at raising awareness among NGOs of the Y2K problem and urging them to take early action. Six workshops were organised in co-operation with the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) for over 300 subvented NGOs and all member agencies of the HKCSS. Information about the Y2K problem and advice on where to seek technical assistance were disseminated at the workshops.

10. In parallel with Phase I, SWD had provided funding for NGOs' central administration units, through the Lotteries Fund. Computerisation project in August 1998 replaced obsolete PCs with Y2K compliant hardware/software.

11. Phase II of the SWD/HKCSS Y2K Joint Initiatives, which covers actual rectification work, started in December 1998 and is steered by a SWD/HKCSS project management team. Technical assessment and assistance are provided to around 2700 NGO units, including headquarters, residential services for the elderly and child care centres. Such assistance includes -

  1. assessing the Y2K compliance status and mission status of computer/embedded systems and drawing up rectification proposals ;

  2. on-site rectification ;

  3. assistance in drawing up application to the Lotteries Fund for minor grants to undertake rectification work;

  4. post- rectification audit of mission-critical systems; and

  5. contingency planning for mission-critical systems.
12. In view of the large number of NGOs involved in this exercise, it was necessary to prioritise the rectification programme by reference to the criticality of the systems and the nature of the welfare services supported by these systems.

13 Overall it is expected that 97% of subvented and regulated NGOs with mission-critical systems will achieve compliance by the end of June 1999 with the remaining 3% by the end of 1999.

Contingency planning for the welfare sector

14. SWD has set up a departmental Y2K Contingency Plan Working Group to manage the preparation of the SWD contingency plan as well as to monitor contingency planning in NGOs that provide essential welfare services.

15. For SWD itself, although its mission-critical systems will all be rectified by June 1999, a Y2K business contingency plan will be drawn up to deal with any unforeseen Y2K-induced disruptions. SWD's existing contingency plan for emergency relief in large-scale disasters is being extended to cover the Y2K problem and to interface with ITBB's territory-wide contingency plan.

16. Contingency planning for NGOs providing essential welfare services is also undertaken as part of SWD/HKCSS Y2K Joint Initiatives. Planned activities include contingency planning workshops organised with the assistance of HKPC, and distribution of Y2K contingency planning guidelines.

Health and Welfare Bureau/
Social Welfare Department

May 1999