COUNTY LINES

Community leaders field questions from public during satellite discussion



Focus, focus, focus. As 2000 approaches, coun-ties should heed these words: Copy shamelessly, know what to let go, and prepare for contingencies.

That was part of the message of the July 29 satellite broadcast, 'Preparing for Y2K: Am I Ready? How Do I Know?' held by the National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, International City/County Management Association and Public Technology Inc.

Panelists talked about testing and contingency planning, taking calls from community leaders across the country.

In an April NACO poll, 26 percent of the 500 counties surveyed had no countywide plan to address the date code problem. And many of those that are working on year 2000 still need guidance.

'Now is not the time to invent,' said Don Gloo, assistant to the Urbandale, Iowa, city manager. He suggested breaking 2000 tasks into manageable chunks and copying other counties' successful operations such as Montgomery County, Md., on the Web at www.co.mo.md.us/Year2000/.



Self-check. Urbandale officials praised the merits of tabletop contingency testing, which taught them a few things in the 125 scenarios they walked through. For example, the town found it was short-staffed, and it added help.

One caller was concerned about the daunting task of testing embedded chips. Another asked how a county with a smaller tax base can find the resources to prepare. Several were worried about what to do in the event of power outages.

Gloo suggested adjusting PC BIOSes but said Urbandale did not have the resources to test embedded chips. He suggested asking manufacturers for written confirmation of equipment readiness.



Financial help. Montgomery County chief administrative officer Bruce Romer talked about PTI's Y2K e-Mall contracts and said the group, on the Web at www.pti.org, provides funding assistance.

Both governments have prepared for power outages by holding conversations with power companies and preparing for outages as they would for a winter storm.

And Montgomery County fire administrator Gordon Aoyagi urged governments that must rely on contingency plans to contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency, at www.fema.org, for a walk-through of what they might be missing.

For more information about NACO, check out www.naco.org.



'Claire E. House

Internet: chouse@gcn.com

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