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Annuity Board president reports computer systems ready for Y2K

BALTIMORE (BP)–Annuity Board President O. S. Hawkins praised efforts of the board’s staff in completing testing related to “Year 2000” computer systems functions, in his comments during the agency’s Aug. 2-3 trustee meeting in Baltimore.
“The completion of this major project gives us great confidence in the board’s ability to expand its operations into the 21st century,” Hawkins said.
Board treasurer Jeffrey P. Billinger reported that the broad stock market rally in the second quarter drove net income to the second-largest first-half-year performance in the board’s history. Total assets of the board grew to just over $7.5 billion by June 30.
Benefit payments and withdrawals for the first six months totaled $190 million, up 15.4 percent over the same period last year. A total of 28,903 participants/beneficiaries received funded benefit payments and 2,104 received installment benefit payments.
Trustees were told preliminary findings indicate a Jan. 1, 2000, rate increase will be announced in the next several weeks for participants in the board’s Personal Security Program and Employer Security Program medical plans including HMO and Medicare primary plans.
Doug Day, managing director of insurance services, said, “We have been fortunate in the past several years to have experienced only minimal rate increases in the Personal Security Program, while our consultants indicate the industry has seen increases of 20 percent to 30 percent since 1994. Rate increases for most employers in the Employer Security Program have also been minimal. We continue to make every effort to keep medical rate increases low in the face of steadily rising health care costs.”
In a Y2K announcement during the week of July 26, the board stated it is currently using Y2K-ready versions of all its software and is prepared for the year 2000.
“All applications running our primary lines of business have been tested with no known Y2K defects outstanding,” said Ken Haynie, year 2000 project manager. “Testing of the retirement system was the last major task and was completed June 24 ahead of schedule.”
Another precaution was scheduled to take place Aug. 4 called a “Disaster Recovery Simulation.”
“This simulation will retest all applications that are critical to our business, and we expect that to go smoothly,” Haynie said.
The Annuity Board began preparing for the Y2K transition in 1997. “We value the trust our retirement and insurance participants place in us and wanted to be prepared for the year 2000,” said Rick Hart, executive officer of systems and technology services.
“Several years ago, the Annuity Board set June 30, 1999, as our deadline to complete our Y2K testing,” Haynie said. “We completed all tasks ahead of schedule. We also have contingency plans in place should unforeseen events occur in the new year.
“Additionally, if our current vendors face difficulties meeting our business needs, we’ve coordinated with alternate vendors to step in on an interim basis,” he added.
A final safeguard put into place was the decision of executive management that no system changes will be allowed after Sept. 19. “This decision will safeguard our system and should alleviate any concerns from our participants,” Haynie said.
Concerning the board’s relief programs to needy retired ministers and widowed spouses, as of June 30 a total of $2,439,081 was distributed through the board’s relief channels, an increase of 6.6 percent over the first six months of 1998. The first Adopt An Annuitant Sunday was celebrated on June 27. More than 1,250 churches requested inserts for their weekly worship bulletins. At the end of the first six months of 1999, there were 914 individuals or couples receiving supplemental assistance grants and 2,661 receiving the $75 Adopt An Annuitant benefit.
The trustees’ relief committee considered 131 relief requests. Trustees approved 64 two-year monthly grants, one three-month monthly grant, one five-month monthly grant, two six-month monthly grants, one one-time grant and 23 two-year expense grants. Thirty-five applications were declined for being outside guidelines. Ninety-seven individuals were added to the Adopt An Annuitant roll during the first and second quarters.
Trustees welcomed five new trustees elected during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in June: Wayne D. Dickard of South Carolina, David A. Galloway of Louisiana, William T. (Dale) Patterson of Mississippi, Nathan H. Pillow of Arizona and Rick A. Shepard of Kansas-Nebraska.
The next scheduled meeting of the Annuity Board trustees will be Nov. 1-2 in Dallas.

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  • Curtis D. Sharp