Government nearly ready for 2000, administration says

Government nearly ready for 2000, administration says

By Christopher J. Dorobek
GCN Staff

The federal government has completed year 2000 fixes on 99 percent of its mission-critical systems and is leading most other sectors in readiness, the Clinton administration reported this month.

With much of the work on federal systems completed, agencies are also working to ensure readiness of the 43 high-impact programs the Office of Management and Budget has said are critical to public health, safety and well being.

Agencies must continue to be vigilant, said John A. Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, last week of the final year 2000 status report.

'People who think they're done, if they don't pay attention to the latest software and hardware may find that they aren't ready,' he said. 'If you think you're done, you can run a risk because you haven't paid attention to it.'

Agencies also need to monitor any subsequent changes they make to systems to make sure they don't undo any year 2000 fixes, he said. Many agencies are freezing systems and banning further changes until well into the new year.

There have been some questions about special funding of Day 1 plans as agencies prepare for the rollover. But those funds will come out of agency operational budgets, Koskinen said.

There is $270 million left of the $2.2 billion year 2000 emergency fund for civilian agencies. The fund will either be used for problems that arise from the date change or will be returned to the government's coffers. All of the Defense Department's $1.1 billion year 2000 contingency fund has been spent, he said.

Finally, agencies need to make sure contractors are available in case problems arise. That does not mean contractors must be on site, Koskinen said.

'The reports show that our hard work in this country is paying off,' President Clinton said. 'The report makes clear that the federal government is Y2K-ready and leading by example. The American people can have full faith that everything from air traffic control systems to Social Security payment systems will continue to work exactly as they should.'

There are fewer than 10 federal mission-critical systems that still need to be fixed, Koskinen said. Those systems, one of which is at OMB, are predominantly within DOD.

Most of the DOD fixes have been made but must be implemented at the bases or on the ships, Koskinen said.

The status report from the President's Council on the Year 2000 Conversion compiles data from each sector, including government, telecommunications, energy and finance.

As of Oct. 15, testing with outside partners was complete for 17 of OMB's list of 43 high-impact programs, the report said.

Koskinen continued to express concern about several areas: local government, health care, educational institutions, housing and small businesses. Specifically, he said there could be problems with 911 call centers. An Oct. 1 survey showed that only half of the 2,700 call centers were ready.

The big concerns are with organizations that have decided to fix problems as they occur, he said.

'Any businesses or government that has been taking a wait-and-see approach to the Y2K issue is basically running out of time,' Koskinen said.

'These are the organizations that are most likely to experience significant Y2K-related failures because they will have done nothing to prepare systems and will not have contingency plans in place to deal with any problems that do occur.'

There will inevitably be problems, Koskinen said, but the most recent report indicates that those problems probably will not be widespread.

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