OMB moves up 2000 deadline

With pressure mounting to make sure federal systems can handle dates come 2000, the
Office of Management and Budget has moved up by eight months the deadline for agencies to
finish date code fixes.

In a memorandum to agency chiefs, OMB Director Franklin D. Raines said he wants all
systems 2000-ready by March 1999. OMB had previously set a deadline of November 1999 for
agencies to complete all systems date code work.

"Moving to this new goal will not be easy; however, there is no viable
alternative," Raines said in the late January memo. "Although the most recent
reports show that we are making progress, we must accelerate our schedule for completion
to ensure that federal systems will work smoothly."

Raines said agencies must complete all code renovations by September and must finish
testing code by January 1999. The new dates give agencies 11 months to implement systems

Pushing up the deadlines was necessary to ensure that systems do not fail in 2000,
Raines said. Agencies will be able to use the extra time to resolve unexpected problems
that arise during implementation, he said.

The new deadlines are for mission-critical and non-mission-critical systems. OMB also
expects that agencies by January 1999 will have checked and corrected all interfaces with
systems run by outside entities such as state and local governments and industry.

OMB issued the deadline change memo almost simultaneously with the Clinton
administration's new emphasis on the year 2000 problem. Earlier this month, Clinton
created the Year 2000 Conversion Council and tapped John A. Koskinen, former OMB deputy
director of management, as its chief [GCN, Feb. 9, Page 3].

Koskinen said he will coordinate work under way in the agencies and will report to the
full Cabinet each quarter on progress governmentwide (see GCN Interview, Page 18).

Agencies turned in their latest quarterly reports to OMB on Feb. 15. The agency will
release a status report based on the reports early next month, OMB officials said.

Congressional staff members said the OMB deadline moves, though prudent, come too late.

"If you have a deadline agencies can't meet, then don't move it so even more won't
meet the deadline," said one staff member with the House Government Reform and
Oversight Subcommittee on Government Management. "It's not going to help them move
any faster. It just gives OMB an excuse to dodge responsibility."

The OMB memo also directed agencies to establish contingency plans for systems that
will not be ready in time. "We expect agencies to make explicit triage decisions as
they prioritize their work," the memo said. "Agencies must have contingency
plans for those systems that are not expected to have completed implementation by March

The new deadlines come as little surprise to some programmers because a few agencies,
including IRS, already had set their own earlier deadlines.

"Most of our systems have to be converted in this calendar year," IRS
commissioner Charles Rossotti said this month at the Armed Forces Communications and
Electronics Association's Virtual Government Conference in College Park, Md.

Because IRS expects to receive returns that include 2000 dates in advance of 2000,
agency officials decided they had to finish fixing codes earlier than the original OMB
deadlines, Rossotti said. The tax service estimates it will spend $900 million on year
2000 work, he said.

Stay Connected

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.