All critical government systems will be ready, Koskinen says

The government’s year 2000 czar expects that 80 percent of federal
mission-critical systems will be ready by the Office of Management and Budget’s March
31 deadline.


John A. Koskinen, chairman of the President’s Council on Year 2000 Conversion,
last month told House lawmakers that his council will set separate timetables for systems
that are not ready by the OMB fix-it deadline.


“We expect that all of the government’s critical systems will be
Y2K-compliant before Jan. 1, 2000,” he said at a joint hearing of the House
Government Reform and the House Science committees.


Congressional auditors, however, said they were not so sure that all mission-critical
systems would be ready in time.


Joel C. Willemssen, director of civil agencies information systems accounting for the
General Accounting Office’s Information Management Division, said several agencies
have missed deadlines. He pointed out that OMB’s November status report said four of
the 24 major agencies had not then finished assessing their mission-critical systems,
something that OMB demanded agencies do by June 1997.


“While the federal government’s most recent reports show improvement in
addressing the year 2000 problem, 39 percent of mission-critical systems were reported as
not yet compliant,” Willemssen said.


GAO recommends that OMB step up its oversight, push end-to-end testing and promote the
creation of contingency plans, Willemssen said. State and local governments are the most
likely to suffer major date code-driven systems failures, he said.


But Koskinen said federal agencies are making progress, even those that OMB flagged as
high-risk.


Koskinen said he spent an entire day last month with Defense Department officials
discussing the agency’s efforts. During that meeting, DOD officials said that most
systems would meet next month’s deadline.


He also noted that at the Energy Department, Secretary Bill Richardson has made year
2000 a frontline issue. “Recent progress has the department confident that over 90
percent of its systems will meet the March goal,” Koskinen said.


And at Health and Human Services Department, the Health Care Financing Administration
has finished renovating and testing all of its internal systems.


“Although a tremendous amount of systems work and contingency planning will remain
after March, most Medicare contractors are expected to complete renovation and testing by
the governmentwide goal,” Koskinen said.


The State Department continues to face a significant challenge because it must replace
and fix systems installed at offices throughout the world, Koskinen said. But, he said,
State officials now estimate that more than 90 percent of the department’s systems
will also meet next month’s deadline.


Finally, the Transportation Department continues to lag behind schedule, but Koskinen
said he is confident that the Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic systems
will be “totally compliant well in advance of the year 2000.”  

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