Presidents of Utah's colleges and universities on Friday will be told to pare an estimated $45 million price tag to exterminate the year 2000 bug from campus computers before a funding request is given to legislators.
Higher Education Commissioner Cecelia H. Foxley expects lawmakers to frown on the multi-million-dollar cost to upgrade administrative systems, networks and personal computers.That is why she plans to ask each institution to "think and decide what is absolutely crucial" to become Y2K compliant.
"We didn't think (the cost) would be that high," Foxley said Wednesday. "We are not likely to get that amount."
Taking into consideration higher education involves about 60 percent of state-owned buildings, Foxley said the estimated cost doesn't "seem out of balance." Officials say the cost to fix Utah government systems for the 2000 computer problem could cost up to $50 million.
"We are realistic and know the state won't have the money," she said. Legislators last year spurned a request by Foxley's office for $13 million to launch a systemwide upgrade.
Foxley said she does not know how much will eventually be requested.
Utah's Board of Regents and school presidents were to meet Thursday and Friday at Utah Valley State College. Among the issues to be discussed is Y2K funding and the 1999-2000 budget for the higher education system.
Administrative and mainframe systems and associated applications have largely been de-bugged. But the thousands of personal computers in labs and staff offices need attention, she said.
A potential PC failure rate between 30 percent and 50 percent "is somewhat likely if not cured" before the 2000 deadline, she said in a report to the Board of Regents. There are an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 personal computers in the higher learning system.
Most of the PCs run Windows 95 and must be converted to Windows 98 to be Y2K compliant.
Utah Valley State College President Kerry Romesburg said at last month's regent meeting that all systems most likely could not be changed in time. He also anticipated a hesitation from legislators to allocate all the money it would take.
Each school faces unique Y2K challenges, Foxley said. For example, University of Utah leaders estimate having to spend at least $10.7 million, Salt Lake Community College's upgrades could cost $8.8 million and Utah State and Weber State officials anticipate spending $5.5 million.
Snow College, however, may cost $620,000 for an upgrade. St. George's Dixie College lists $745,000 as the amount needed. Other schools fall within the U.'s and Snow's cost range.
"You can see how it varies from institution to institution," Foxley said.