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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Employment and Training Administration
Washington, D. C. 20210

CLASSIFICATION

UI

CORRESPONDENCE SYMBOL

TEURA

ISSUE DATE

May 12, 1994

RESCISSIONS

None

EXPIRATION DATE

May 31, 1995

DIRECTIVE

:

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM LETTER NO. 26-94

 

TO

:

ALL STATE EMPLOYMENT SECURITY AGENCIES

 

FROM

:

MARY ANN WYRSCH
Director
Unemployment Insurance Service

 

SUBJECT

:

New Policy Regarding National Office Acquisition of Terminals/Workstations Needed to Access the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Computer Systems Used By Required Reporting (RR) and Quality Control (QC) Programs.

  1. Purpose. To announce policy regarding National Office support and acquisition of terminals or workstations needed to access the new SUN SPARCstations and to announce technical changes that will result from the installation of those new computer systems, which will replace the old Artecon/SUN systems.

  2. Reference. UI Information Bulletin 5-94.

  3. Background. As announced in UI Information Bulletin 5-94, the Unemployment Insurance Service (UIS) has acquired replacement systems (SUN SPARCstation 10 Model 40 computers) for the Artecon/SUN computers used for Required Reporting (RR), Quality Control (QC) and other Federal applications. The bulletin also announced that software, including Informix, WordPerfect, SPSS, and Lotus 1-2-3, would be upgraded on the new machine. The acquisition of the new hardware and software will require that States begin transitioning to a new computing environment. This new computing environment utilizes "graphical user interface" (GUI) technology which will render our current VT-type terminals obsolete for use with software based on this technology. The upgrades to both the Lotus and SPSS graphics applications on the new systems will require GUI. In order to use a GUI-based software product on the new system, a user must have an X-Terminal or a PC with X-Terminal emulation.

    Character-based terminals, such as the current VT-220, VT-320, VT-330, VT-340 and VT-420 terminals, that have been provided to States by the UIS and supported for use with QC and RR activities, can at this time continue to be used to run the National Office-furnished applications except the graphics routines in Lotus and SPSS. However, with the software industry moving to the GUI technology for future releases, the UI system must begin planning to move totally to this new environment. According to trade periodicals and vendors' product release announcements, within 12 to 18 months most new releases or upgrades of commercial software for the SUN SPARCstations will require a GUI environment. In order to receive continued vendor support, UI will need to upgrade to these releases within 6 to 12 months of their initial availability.

    UIS software development will also require moving to the GUI environment. RQC plans to issue its initial GUI software release in January of 1995 while BQC plans to begin phasing in GUI-based software with a release in the late fall 1994 and completing the conversion by the Spring 1995. However, BQC graphics users will need X-Terminal capability upon conversion to the new systems currently scheduled to begin in July 1994. ALL users needing access to the UI SUN system will need to have X-Terminals or PCs with X-Terminal emulation capability by January 1996.

    Over the last few years many States have been increasing their usage of PCs in UI operations to the point where some staff who access QC and RR applications through terminals, also have a PC to accomplish other work. Still other State users are currently utilizing their PCs with a VT-type emulation package to access the Artecon/SUN to accomplish their QC or RR work. In addition, PC acquisitions are being planned by some States in the next few months for use by people who access the Artecon/SUN. The trend shows an increasing number of PCs being provided to State staff currently working on RR and QC. Such a trend can assist in making the transition to the new GUI software environment.

    To help move the UI system to the GUI environment, UIS will be providing States, on a one-time basis in FY 1994, with additional grant funds necessary to procure a limited number of X-Terminals or PCs. Details regarding allocation of these funds will be covered in a separate issuance scheduled for release before April 30, 1994. States deciding to purchase X-Terminals should contact Dave Wilson on (202) 219-8640 for additional information.

  4. Policy. All future State needs for X-Terminals or PCs to connect to the SUN system, beyond the one-time grant funds referenced above, will be the responsibility of each SESA. Each State can acquire equipment that can be purchased and maintained through existing State procurement procedures.

    X-Terminal emulation software for PCs will be provided by UIS to support connection of State PCs to the system to accomplish required Federal activities. In FY 1994, UIS will purchase and provide each State with a limited number of copies of the UIS standard X-Terminal emulation software. Additional copies of the X-Terminal emulation software will be provided to States in FY 1995 to support the remaining State PC users needing access to the software applications on the SUN system.

    It is highly recommended that States acquire PCs rather than X-Terminals as PCs will allow users to use the standard set of office automation software normally provided to State employees. Presently, some users may need to learn one commercial package to accomplish work on the UI system and another package to accomplish work on other State systems. By providing PCs and the State's suite of software, employee frustration would be reduced. Training needs and costs would also be reduced.

  5. Specifications. In order to use the X-Terminal emulation software on an existing PC, the machine must meet the following minimum configuration requirements:

    - 386-33 Mhz

    - MS DOS 5.0 or later

    - Windows 3.1

    - 8 MB memory

    - Hard Disk (requires 30 MB of free storage just for the X-Terminal emulation)

    - Mouse

    - 14" or larger SVGA Monitor

    - 1 MB graphics accelerator

    - 128K cache

    - Serial Port 9600 baud or higher

    Although the X-emulator will work with the minimum configuration, there is a noticeable degradation of processing speed. To avoid this problem now and to plan for the future, when purchasing new PCs, States should acquire capability which exceeds the above minimums. We recommend the following minimum Energy Star Compliant configuration for new purchases:

    - 486DX2 66 MHZ or faster

    - MS DOS -- latest version

    - Windows 3.1 or higher

    - 16 MB memory

    - Hard Disk (as above)

    - Mouse

    - 15" or larger SVGA Monitor

    - 1 MB graphics accelerator

    - 128K cache

    - Serial Port 9600 baud or higher

    The National UI Quality Control ADP Training Center in St. Paul, MN has conducted and will conduct additional classes discussing the various details of how to connect PCs to the UI SUN system. States are encouraged to send personnel to these classes to facilitate their transition to this new configuration.

  6. Action Required. SESA administrators are requested to:

    1. Inform the appropriate agency components of the new policy and the need to acquire PCs or X-Terminals based on the time table above.

    2. Prepare a request for X-Terminal emulation software, estimating the number of PCs for which the package will be needed and specifying the version(s) of DOS to be used for each PC. To assist the National Office in planning for the future, the administrator should specify, if appropriate, the LAN type (Novelle, Banyan, etc.) that these PCs might connect to. Requests for emulation software along with the additional information should be sent to the National Office by May 27, 1994, attention: TEURA.

  7. Inquiries. Inquiries should be directed to the appropriate Regional Office.