Y2K grades rise, but some systems not ready

Y2K grades rise, but some systems not ready

By Christopher J. Dorobek and Frank Tiboni
GCN Staff

The government has received its first above-average grade for fixing date code, but some major-league systems remain unready, according to Rep. Steve Horn's most recent year 2000 report card.

The California Republican's assessment mirrors the relatively rosy view from the Clinton administration, which found that 93 percent of all mission-critical systems are now ready.

In the latest quarterly report from the Office of Management and Budget, the administration said mission-critical systems for 14 agencies are ready, but 10 agencies still must finish fixes for a total of 410 mission-critical systems.

In February, Congress and OMB reported 79 percent of mission-critical systems ready.

The OMB report, however, indicates that getting to 93 percent was costly. The 24 major agencies now estimate that they will spend $8.05 billion on year 2000 work. That is up from $6.75 billion.

The report's findings represent little change from the administration's statement on March 31, the administration's deadline for having systems ready, that 92 percent of systems were ready. The new report, issued June 15, is based on data that agencies submitted to OMB last month.

Deidre A. Lee, OMB's acting deputy director of management, said while fixing the remaining 7 percent of mission-critical systems is crucial, OMB is looking beyond the numbers.

'While OMB will continue to track agency progress to ensure that remaining mission-critical systems are made Y2K compliant, we must also look at areas beyond these systems,' Lee said.

'Accordingly, OMB is shifting the focus of its reporting to monitor in greater detail efforts to demonstrate the readiness of federal programs as well as the development of business continuity and contingency plans.'

This month's report, for example, does away with agency rankings and instead focuses on the outstanding mission-critical systems.

Horn, however, continued his quarterly report card, which uses the same agency data for its assessment. The Horn report card also showed improvement. Horn, chairman of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology, gave the government an overall grade of B'.

Good news

That represents an improvement over the C+ the government received in February. It's a dramatic improvement over previous report cards. The government had garnered an F and two Ds in the three previous quarters.

'Good progress has been made, but there are still critical systems to fix,' Horn said. 'The Federal Aviation Administration's Air Traffic Control System is not year 2000 compliant. Nor is the Health and Human Service Department's Payment Management System ready. Each year, this computer system processes nearly $165 billion in payments and grant programs, such as Medicaid.'

The State Department made the biggest leap forward, going from an F in February to an A' in June. HHS made a slight improvement, going from a C+ to a B'. State has fixed all its mission-critical systems, the report said.

One year ago, State had fixed none of its 59 mission-critical systems.

'It feels great to have gone from 0 to 100 percent,' State chief information officer Fernando Burbano said.

The department has begun end-to-end testing and expects to complete that work by the end of the summer, Burbano said.

The State CIO attributed the turnaround to undersecretary for management Bonnie Cohen's emphasis on the year 2000 problem. He also cited the work of deputy CIO Dave Ames, contractors and the year 2000 program staffs in each of State's bureaus.

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