Many IT chiefs will spend New Year's Day at work







Do you know where you will be on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2000? As the government moves
beyond year 2000 tests of mission-critical systems, agencies are formulating plans that
detail New Year’s Day responsibilities.


The so-called Day 1 plans are an integral part of overall agency contingency and
business continuity plans, federal information technology executives said.


Contingency plans address specific systems and what an agency will do if a system fails
to function, said Defense Department year 2000 czar Bill Curtis. The business continuity
plans focus on how to keep a process going, such as the payment of Social Security
benefits The Day 1 plans are a microcosm of the contingency plans. They will look at
several questions, said John A. Koskinen, chairman of the President’s Council on the
Year 2000 Conversion.


He suggested some questions the Day 1 plans will answer: “What do I do on the
first day? How will I know what works or what doesn’t work? How will I know whether I
need a contingency plan? How will I know whether I institute my contingency plan or my
business continuity plan?”


Koskinen said he has asked all agencies to detail for the council how they will monitor
their systems, how they will determine what the problems are and how they will implement
and execute their contingency plans.


Agriculture Department chief information officer Anne Thomson Reed said the
department’s Day 1 plan will spell out who will monitor specific aspects of systems.


“You say, ‘What personnel do we need on hand, just in case?’ and
‘What is our plan for who does what when?’ ” she said. “It’s the
command and control piece of it, and it’s more event-based. It’s the
trigger.”


The Treasury Department’s Day 1 plan will detail when it is necessary to implement
either the contingency or the business continuity plan, said Connie Drew, Treasury’s
assistant director for IT policy and management.


The clocks in Australia will be the first to turn, and the experiences on that
continent might provide some insight as to what can go wrong, Curtis said.


The year 2000 council has hired retired Army Lt. Gen. Peter Kind, a former director of
Army’s information systems for command, control, communications and computers, to
spearhead the Day 1 preparations, Koskinen said.


“We’re going to have millions of American’s celebrating the millennium
by working on Saturday,” Koskinen said.


“They’re all going to be doing the same things. They’re going to start
their systems up, they’re going to monitor their effectiveness, they’re going to
test communications links on that Day 1 to determine what works and, if it doesn’t
work, what needs to have a workaround.”


Kind, who was a researcher at the Institute for Defense Analyses, a think tank that
evaluates military programs, is creating an Information Coordination Center, Koskinen
said.


On Jan. 1, the center will collect information from the emergency centers at the
agencies, which are each responsible for specific industry groups. It will also get
updates from states through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, from embassies and
from the State Department, Koskinen said.


“The goal here is to have an efficient way of monitoring what is going on and
pulling together the information so agencies have the best information possible to make a
determination about how to respond within their” jurisdictions, he said.


On midday EST Friday, Dec. 31, when midnight begins its round-the-world tour, the
center will monitor events and provide updates every four hours. 


The Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem has asked agencies to
submit contingency plans by April 30; OMB is requiring them by June 15.  


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