FAR Council issues a year 2000 amendment

To avoid a millennium meltdown, federal buying chiefs have created a new procurement
rule ordering agencies to buy only those information technology products that are
guaranteed to work into the next century.

The Federal Acquisition Regulation Council has approved an interim rule that requires
all government agencies to be sure that any commercial hardware or software products that
they buy can perform date and time processing tasks after Dec. 31, 1999.

Both the Chief Information Officers Council and the Year 2000 Interagency Committee
supported the FAR Council's revision as another way to help agencies purge antiquated
software code and prepare their financial, logistics and forecasting systems for the
century date change.

Industry analyses have estimated it will cost the government up to $30 billion to make
all the necessary code fixes to ensure that agency systems can handle dates come Jan. 1,

"The new procurement guidance will provide year 2000 information that will be
helpful to federal
agencies when awarding new IT contracts or modifying older ones," said Laurence
Wolfe, deputy associate administrator of the General
Services Administration's Office of IT.

The FAR amendment defines "year 2000-compliant" as any hardware or software
product that accurately calculates and compares date and time data from, into and between
the 20th and 21st centuries.

The amendment also requires that contracting officials make sure all agency
solicitations and contracts specify year 2000 compatibility or include upgrade clauses for
making needed code conversions.

Industry groups endorsed the amendment as consistent with many vendors efforts to
provide year 2000 certification for IT products.

"This is very similar to what we've been working on with the interagency task
force," said Olga Grkavac, senior vice president of systems integration for the
Information Technology Association of America. "This is a positive step. Everyone
expected it, and we consulted with the council as drafts were made."

For more information on year 200 issues, check out the GSA's World Wide Web site at http://www.itpolicy.gsa.gov.

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