Center will monitor global Y2K status

Center will monitor global Y2K status

By Christopher J. Dorobek
GCN Staff






During a media tour of the Year 2000 Information Coordination Center last month, John A. Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on the Year 2000 Conversion, said the creation of the center was a prudent step that should not cause anxiety.


Large high-definition, flat-screen television monitors hover over the Year 2000 Information Coordination Center in Washington, displaying time zones around the world as if symbolizing the international magnitude of the center's purpose.

Beginning at 6 a.m. EST on New Year's Eve as New Zealand leads the world into 2000, the center will begin actively monitoring the global impact of the date change, collecting and distributing year 2000 status reports from governments across the country and around the world.

The $50 million center was unveiled during a media tour last month. The center is just blocks from the White House in a building formerly used by the Secret Service.

'The challenge to the federal government is to deal with a volume of information that we've never had to deal with before,' said John A. Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on the Year 2000 Conversion.

The ICC team will not make policy decisions, Koskinen said. Instead, the center will gather, analyze and summarize a stream of updates from local, state and federal government agencies, and the private sector on systems performance.

The status reports will be sent to federal decision-makers. The public will also be kept up-to-date through regularly scheduled briefings and on the council's Web site, at www.y2k.gov.

At the heart of the ICC itself is a glass-walled room with television monitors along one wall. In the center of the room are 16 desks arranged in a rectangle, each with a PC and a flat-screen monitor.

Koskinen, retired Lt. Gen. Peter A. Kind, the ICC's director, and other top officials will be working in the central office coordinating the information as it comes in.

Desk matters

Outside the glassed office are groups of desks, each with a flat-panel screen and a small camera for videoconferences. The desks are grouped into sectors'government, financial institutions, energy and telecommunications.






A little less than two-thirds of kindergarten through 12th-grade and postsecondary schools reported 2000 readiness for mission-critical systems as of Oct. 1.


Each sector will have a staff of agency designees. The sector experts will analyze incoming data.

About 30 people are working at the ICC, but that number will increase to about 200 over the New Year's weekend.

Koskinen and Kind have established a reporting network that largely follows disaster-reporting processes used in weather-related and other emergencies.

The year 2000 problem differs from such incidents, however, because it is not geographically limited.

'When the president or the public or the media wants to know what's happening, what they mean by what's happening is what's happening everywhere in the world at one time,' Koskinen said.

The information will flow from the field to the ICC sector desks, and then to Koskinen and Kind.

The ICC has been developed largely using existing infrastructures. Internationally, the center will cull data from State Department embassies, Defense Department bases and other international groups. Within the United States, the ICC is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies, as well as state and local governments.

Kind has created templates to standardize the status reports and make it possible for organizations to file reports quickly. The templates ask organizations to classify their operations as normal, suffering minor problems or suffering major problems.

A normal ranking might not mean that there are no problems because there are almost always some computer problems occurring at any given time, Koskinen said.

Instead, a situation ought to be considered normal if systems are operating within defined acceptable parameters. The ICC is working on a definition for those parameters.

Most of the status reports will be filed via the Web, although the ICC has backup provisions. Contingency plans for submitting information include using fax machines, mobile phones and dedicated telephone lines.

Some agency year 2000 officials said the report-filing process was slower than they expected. ICC officials said, however, that despite some initial problems, the center will be ready.

'We've done some tests,' Koskinen said, and there have been some glitches. There were some problems with the way the information was routed, he said. The center has run two tests so far'one internally and one with agencies'and will do a full operation stress test early next month, he said.

The ICC will open for business on Dec. 28 and stay open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. It will begin 24-hour operations on Dec. 30 that will last until Jan. 3.

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