A top KeyCorp executive assured lawmakers Tuesday that the $76 billion-asset banking company is well prepared for the year-2000 computer problem.
Kevin M. Blakely testified before a House Government Reform and Oversight subcommittee that other technological challenges-such as synchronizing computer systems after a merger-had helped KeyCorp create a managerial framework for attacking tough problems like the millennium bug.
"The project management skills sharpened through such initiatives have been invaluable in building a skill base to draw upon," said Mr. Blakely, an executive vice president for risk management at the Cleveland banking company. The KeyCorp executive was the only banker to testify at the year- 2000 field hearing, which was held in the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood. The hearing was the fourth in a series of six sponsored by the government management and technology subcommittee. Each has focused on the experiences of state and local governments and businesses.
Rep. Stephen Horn, a California Republican who is chairman of the subcommittee, drew on a bit of local imagery to convey the seriousness of the year-2000 problem. "As we sit just a few miles from the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, we must face the music," he said. "Jan. 1, 2000, must not become the day the music dies."
According to Mr. Blakely, KeyCorp began preparing to solve the year-2000 problem in 1995 by focusing on its internal systems. Later, the company realized that its general ledger, underwriting data base, and other internal systems would need to trade information with one another and therefore had to speak the same language.
KeyCorp's executives also concluded that it was dependent on credit reporting agencies and other outside companies and so began to craft alternatives in case those systems failed. Even contingency plans need contingency plans, Mr. Blakely said. "One cannot assume that simply because an alternative source has been identified it will be willing or able to provide us the data we need," he said.
The panel's final two hearings are scheduled today in Indianapolis and Thursday in Chicago.