Fixing date codes is a joint effort on state, local fronts

Thomas R. Temin

The year 2000 date code D-day is like an earthquake whose exact moment of occurrence is known in advance. For the most part, state and local governments have heeded this fact and have worked methodically toward getting their systems ready to handle the change from 19XX to 20XX.

Savvy government leaders recognized early that year 2000 was shaping up as the ultimate service-to-the-citizen issue. Luckily for systems people, the politicians heard the drumbeats from the voters and in most places made sure the money was there to handle the problem. You can get away with not properly maintaining subways or school buildings for a while, but putting off 2000 fixes means a certain crash.

We'll never know whether the scaremongers actually goaded ignorant governments and industries into action or whether organizations would have acted anyway. Of course, nobody can say for certain what will happen, but I believe most critical government systems will avoid disruptions.

This special issue of GCN/State & Local presents a comprehensive picture of preparations nationwide at the local, county and state levels.

Given the ubiquity of the 2000 problem, it is surprising how varied the data on progress and expenditures is. Some states gather data on repair spending for all systems, others just on so-called mission-critical systems. Some haven't gathered any data.

On the other hand, many governments have been magnificent in the care and precision with which they tackled 2000. This is true for places as diverse as Montgomery County, Md., a dense, urban and wealthy county abutting Washington, to North Platte, Neb., a small, rural town far from the technological and political canyons of either coast.

This suggests that money alone isn't key to solving the date code problem. It's clear that leadership from the top'the governor or mayor'is equally important.

Credit for this issue of GCN/State & Local goes to a number of staff members. Reporters Claire E. House and Trudy Walsh conceived the idea of a final, comprehensive look at 2000 readiness. Their efforts were coordinated by Julie Britt, assistant managing editor for news. Our associate art director, Phyllis L. Maringer, came up with the special packaging, and staff artist Michael J. Bechetti contributed the information graphics.

Like tackling the 2000 problem itself, putting together this issue was hard work. We hope you enjoy reading the results.

Thomas R. Temin

Editorial director

Internet: [email protected]


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