NAB gets tough on Y2K plans

The National Australia Bank is seeking sensitive information from customers regarding millennium compliance project funding and advising those with problems responding to consult a lawyer.

In a survey issued last Friday, a draft copy of which ComputerWorld has obtained, the bank is requesting details of whether millennium projects are funded from borrowed capital or normal operating cash flows, as well as information on more standard system compatibility and director/management/staff awareness issues.

The questionnaire also seeks an estimate of how much is borrowed to fund the project, if any.

NAB group manager, group media relations, Haydn Park denied the bank was seeking to indemnify itself from potential difficulties arising at the end of the decade. Park said the results of the survey would be used to give the bank an improved understanding of customers' preparedness to deal with the millennium issue -- particularly small to medium-sized businesses.

"The NAB is conducting a detailed evaluation of its customers' preparedness for the year 2000 as part of its own internal assessment of the scope and severity of the problem," he said.

In the covering letter accompanying the survey, the NAB advises that customers "concerned" about any of the content of the questionnaire should seek "independent advice" from a "suitably qualified legal expert".

The NAB also requires that the survey be signed "by either the managing director, director, chief financial officer or the company secretary if an incorporated entity, or the most senior authorised signatory if not incorporated".

Areas covered in the questionnaire include:

* the reliance of individual levels of business --for instance critical or non-critical -- on the "automated systems"; n contingency planning such as disaster recovery resources, in addition to strategies for the protection of skilled labour, whether internal or contracted and; * corporate awareness of issues like the impact of non-compliance on third parties such as customers and suppliers.

Also companies are questioned as to their understanding of risks arising from litigation, regulatory or investment-related issues.

They are required to specify what, if any, insurance has been taken out for protection against internal business failure as well as the impact of the failure of systems of third parties.

Park said the NAB simply wished to exercise "prudence" regarding the 2000 problem and make sure it understands where Australian businesses stand in relation to the problem.

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