OMB, GAO issue transition guides

OMB, GAO issue transition guides<@VM>OMB details Day 1 plan essentials

GAO civilian information systems director Joel C. Willemssen says Day 1 plans are essential to contingency plans.

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

With the year 2000 only a couple of months away, agencies are fine-tuning plans for a day most of them have been anticipating for years.

The Office of Management and Budget and the General Accounting Office have issued guidance on how to ensure agencies are ready when the clock strikes 12:01 on Jan. 1. The OMB and GAO Day 1 recommendations have much in common and will help agencies address critical requirements, officials from both agencies said.

Agencies had to submit draft Day 1 plans to OMB Oct. 15, said Joel C. Willemssen, GAO director of civilian information systems. A bit misnamed, the Day 1 plans really cover many days, he said.

'Day 1 plans, which describe agency planned activities during the pre-rollover and post-rollover periods, are an essential part of your business and contingency plans. They should address the full scope of agency activity that will be under way during that period,' said OMB director Jacob J. Lew in a memo issued last month. The OMB memo is posted on the Web at cio.gov/docs/dayone_final.htm.

One of the most difficult aspects of establishing a transition period plan is dealing with all the potential contingencies. Some agencies are preparing for downed phone lines, for instance.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will issue mobile phones that use satellites and do not depend on land lines, said Mirko J. Dolak, technical assistant director for GAO's Civil Agencies Information Systems Division.

Agencies are also lining up standby personnel, officials said. In Washington, where the Mall is expected to be jammed with New Year's Eve revelers, agencies are considering how on-call personnel will be able to get to their posts, officials said.

Communications is one of the seven areas emphasized by OMB in its guidance. 'Assure that you will have the ability to communicate within your agency, with your agency's work force, with contractors, with partners in program delivery and with your constituency as appropriate,' Lew said.

Agencies also need to establish Day 1 leave and compensation policies, Dolak said. That will require information technology shops working with human resources departments to determine special pay issues and how to handle unused leave, overtime and standby status, GAO noted in its guidance, Y2K Computing Challenge: Day 1 Planning and Operations Guide. The GAO guide is available at cio.gov/files/dayone.pdf.

Dolak said agencies also must ensure that employees and contractors can enter their buildings if there is a power outage.

Lew's memo further instructs agencies to take a special look at systems security. In particular, there is concern about potential malicious activity masquerading as year 2000 problems, he said.

The GAO guide recommends that agencies look at their plans in terms of four periods: initiation; rollover risk assessment, planning and preparation; rehearsal; and execution, monitoring, responding and reporting.

Agencies already should have established Day 1 project workgroups and set overall strategies that include milestones for work still to be done, GAO said.

Finally, Dolak said, agencies must make sure their plans include trigger events that lead agencies to carry out contingency plans if need be.

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