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Government Computers Aren’t Ready for 2000, Lawmaker Says

From Bloomberg News

Many U.S. government computer systems are not prepared for the arrival of the 21st century, when the change to the year 2000 could generate false data, the head of a House subcommittee on technology said Tuesday.

President Clinton should make year 2000 readiness a priority, Rep. Stephen Horn (R-Long Beach), told a news conference. “He’s got to make a fireside chat on this thing.”

A report by Horn’s House subcommittee on government management, information and technology gave the government a failing grade in preparing for 2000. Six of the 24 largest federal agencies received an F and four got an A, the report said.

The concern is that computers, because of the way they were programmed years ago, could generate false data by misinterpreting 2000 as 1900. Programmers must review and edit thousands of lines of computer code for each piece of software at an estimated cost of at least $10 billion, Horn said.

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Clinton created a Year 2000 Council in February to review the problem. It is headed by John Koskinen and includes representatives from 30 federal agencies. Koskinen is the former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, which is to release its own report on the computer programming problem this week.

Clinton will make a national speech to discuss the computer glitch, as Horn suggested, this summer, Koskinen said.

A bipartisan bill in Congress would require the administration to develop a plan within three months for handling the problem.


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