DOD brass expect some date code systems failures
- By Gregory Slabodkin
- Jun 29, 1998
Senior Defense Department officials have acknowledged that the department will not have
all its systems year 2000-ready on time.
Even systems that DOD has renovated and tested might fail come Jan. 1, 2000, Hamre
said, and the failure of one system could affect others.
"I will be the first to say that we are in for some nasty surprises," he
Arthur Money, DODs nominee for assistant secretary of Defense for command,
control, communications and intelligence, told an audience at the Armed Forces
Communications and Electronic Associations recent TechNet conference that the year
2000 problem is DODs "largest and highest-priority readiness issue."
Nevertheless, Money said, not all systems will be ready and DOD is putting together
contingency plans for all mission-critical systems and for every other system that DOD
hasnt tested by September.
A General Accounting Office report this spring found that DOD has not given
mission-critical systems adequate priority over administrative operations in the code
repair process. Defense has more than 25,000 computer systems and about 2,800 of them are
"We are at the point with respect to Y2K where DOD has to focus on the
mission-critical systems," said Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), chairman of the Special
Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem. "They have moved almost horizontally,
fixing things without analyzing whether or not they are mission-critical."
But even some mission-critical systems DOD has reported as year 2000-ready are
potentially flawed, according to the DOD inspector general. In a report released earlier
this month, the IG charged that Defense has reported some mission-critical systems as year
2000-ready even though the department has not properly certified them [GCN, June 15, Page 1].
Adding fuel to the fire, the Office of Management and Budgets most recent
quarterly report on year 2000 found that DOD has slowed in fixing its mission-critical
According to OMB, the percentage of fixed mission-critical systems has increased from
24 percent to 29 percent and the percentage of mission-critical systems being renovated
has increased from 53 percent to 58 percent since March.
"At this pace, the department will not meet its goal and complete its work on
time," OMB said.
DOD has also reported that work on nine mission-critical systemsone Army system,
two Air Force systems, two Defense Finance and Accounting Service systems, one Defense
Logistics Agency system and three National Security Agency systemsis behind
schedule, OMB said.
"We agree with the recent OMB evaluation that DOD is in the Tier 1 or red
zone," William Curtis, DODs special assistant for year 2000, told the House
Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and
The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Steve Horn (R-Calif.), recently raised DODs
grade from an F to a D based on the percentage of mission-critical systems that it has
"DOD earned a D and is still not on track to complete Y2K compliance efforts until
two years after the date change," Horn said.
"We appreciate your recent upgrade of DOD from an F to a D," Curtis said.
"I believe that your improved grade is based more on our recent management actions
than on our actual results to date. This low score reflects the work that remains to be
done in DOD."
Hamre told Congress that DOD has spent more than $1.9 billion to fix its systems. DOD
has deferred nearly $2 billion worth of improvements to existing systems, as well as the
development of new systems, he said.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense in its fiscal 1999 Defense
appropriations bill recommended an additional $1.6 billion in emergency funding to help
DOD handle its year 2000 problem. DOD would be able to tap into the funds only if the
president deemed it necessary, the subcommittee said in the bills accompanying
Hamre asked lawmakers to give DOD some flexibility in attacking the year 2000 problem.
"It is not a problem that can be legislated away or solved by levying new
requirements on DOD or its program managers," he said.