Y2K progress continues; Hill seeks new tests

Each day the government finishes date code fixes on a few more mission critical
systems.


Ninety-three percent of essential systems are now year 2000-ready, John A. Koskinen,
chairman of the President’s Council on the Year 2000 Conversion, said last month. The
administration said in March that 92 percent of the government’s 6,123
mission-critical systems met the Office of Management and Budget’s March 31 readiness
deadline [GCN, April 12, Page 1].


Koskinen said he is now confident that all mission-critical systems, even some of the
most troubling systems, will be ready come Jan. 1. As an example, he said, the Health Care
Financing Administration’s systems, which administer more than $290 billion in
Medicare and Medicaid payments annually, will be ready by July.


“We are increasingly concerned, however, about the Y2K readiness of health care
providers’ record-keeping and billing systems, which must be operable to submit
payment claims to the government for reimbursement,” Koskinen said.


As agencies continue their efforts, they will also complete and test business
continuity and contingency plans to prevent disruptions in government service delivery and
operations, Koskinen said.


Besides completing date code work, agencies must also work with state programs that
provide information to federal systems. The states play a significant role in the delivery
of government services, including Medicaid, unemployment insurance and food stamp
benefits, Koskinen said.


“Federal compliance will be largely irrelevant if the state systems involved in
these programs cannot operate into the year 2000,” he said.


Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) has proposed setting July 1 as National Y2K Test Day
for federal agencies responsible for critical public services. HR 1447 would require
agencies responsible for public health and safety, payments to individuals, delivery of
services to consumers and national defense to perform a trial run to ensure systems are
ready for the date change.


“The test must be done at the exact same time with all computers participating so
that individual computers and interoperating computers can be tested for Y2K
compliance,” according to a Ford statement about the bill.


The bill would require agencies to disclose the results of the tests on Aug. 16, which
Ford said would be known as Y2K Disclosure Day.


The Office of Management and Budget has told agencies to hold public readiness
demonstrations. OMB has also listed 42 services that must be tested by Sept. 30.


OMB has set other year 2000 deadlines: By May 15, agencies must submit reports on
systems that are not fixed, and on June 15, agencies must file contingency plans with
OMB. 


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