Davis demands hard facts on year 2000

The Virginia Republican, a member of the House Government Reform and Oversight
Committee, said he is coordinating House oversight efforts to make sure agency CIOs have
realistic plans, adequate budgets and ample staff for year 2000 repair work.


Speaking at a fiscal 1998 systems budget briefing by Federal Sources Inc. of McLean,
Va., Davis also warned that he is notifying all CIOs that the House appropriations,
authorization and oversight committees will be monitoring the problem closely.


"We have to displace the widely held view that the costs can be absorbed by the
agencies. It will have a harmful impact if we do not identify the problems and the costs
up front," Davis said.


Year 2000 work "can be addressed in integrated fashion or as part of an agency
information technology strategy," he said. "But it needs to get done, and
Congress is saying to the CIOs that this will be the first major test."


Davis questioned the Office of Management and Budget's $2.3 billion estimate. Industry
analysts have projected that the government will spend at least $6 billion and as much as
$40 billion upgrading antiquated code and restructuring systems.


Sally Katzen, administrator of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs,
steadfastly defends the administration's arithmetic.


She has said agencies will recoup the anticipated cost when they eliminate some older
systems and install new ones.


OMB recently issued a standard reporting form for agencies to use when updating the
administration on year 2000 work. Agencies must file status reports every May, August,
November and February until 1999.


Agencies must identify the organizations responsible for the work, the number of
mission critical systems fixed, the number of systems replaced, the number of systems
repaired and the systems eliminated. They also must set repair milestones and explain
delays and cost increases.


White House officials and congressional leaders have agreed that agencies must pay for
the fixes out of their existing budgets and that no one will be bailed out by an emergency
fund.


But Davis cautioned federal managers against fooling themselves and buying into the
administration's cost scenario.


"We need to recall the old maxim of pay me now or pay me later," he said.


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