OMB orders Y2K tests of critical services systems

OMB identifies must-run services

























As the March 31 deadline for year 2000 readiness becomes a memory, federal
agencies have two primary targets: high-impact services and systems deemed important if
not mission-critical.


The Clinton administration announced last month that 92 percent of the
government’s 6,123 mission-critical systems met the deadline. But a staff member for
the House’s special Y2K Task Force said the administration needs to move its focus
from systems to services.


“We need to make a quantum shift from counting systems to focusing on core
business functions,” the staff member said.


The administration said it has already started. Jacob J. Lew, Office of Management and
Budget director, listed 40 critical federal services and programs in a memo to agencies
last month.


They must undergo end-to-end testing by Sept. 30, he said.


“We need to be able to demonstrate the overall readiness of systems—and the
programs they support—to the public,” Lew said.


“This is a critical facet of our work. While the public generally understands that
we have made progress in addressing the year 2000 problem, based on our internal measure
of systems made compliant, their bottom-line concern is that the programs they rely on
will function properly,” he said.


The administration developed its list by looking at programs that directly affect the
health, safety or welfare of individuals.


The 19 agencies responsible for the 40 services must submit testing schedules by April
15 and provide OMB with monthly status reports beginning May 15.


Lew said the memo to agencies is not intended to give agencies additional
responsibilities, and neither should they expect additional funding. The effort
should be one of cooperation and partnership among interested parties, all of whom share
interest in seeing that important federal programs will function smoothly through 2000, he
said.


John A. Koskinen, chairman of the President’ Council on the Year 2000 Conversion,
said there are four key priorities for the remaining eight months of the year:


Potential problems in non-mission-critical systems are also apparent, officials said.


“My concern is that we’re still addressing the first core layer,” said
the House staff member. There are non-mission-critical systems that must handle day-to-day
operations within agencies, he said.


Bruce F. Webster, co-chairman of the Washington Year 2000 Group, noted that 2,713
systems have disappeared from the mission-critical list over the past 20 months.


Alloway said part of the reason for the reduction is that the administration forced
agencies early on to identify mission-critical systems. But he said he suspects that some
agencies dropped systems from the list so they could meet the March 31 deadline.


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