GAO report on federal government Y2K compliance : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Here's an article I saw today about a recent GAO report. Here's two quotes from it on how the federal government is coming along with its Y2K work...

"In November 1998, (the GAO estimated) about $7.2 billion, triple the aggregated original assessment in February 1997," Walker said. "And we simply don't have enough data to say whether more will be needed."

[skipping ahead]

The GAO divides federal agencies into three "tiers" of readiness, with "Tier 1" being the worst. Tier 1 agencies include the departments of Defense, Energy, Health & Human Services, State and Transportation, as well as the Agency for International Development.

-- Kevin (, January 21, 1999



To me, the key point in that story was the GAO Comptroller saying the amoung of work left to do at the federal level was "daunting." Combine that with Bennett's release over the weekend questioning the "rosy predictions" of federal Y2K progress, and you can see that Koskinen's belief of "everything is just swell" is not universally shared in DC.

-- Drew Parkhill/CBN News (, January 21, 1999.

The GAO has already caught the FAA, the Dept. of Agriculture, and DoD in outright lies about their Y2K progress during this past year and would do well to question federal Y2K progress reports generally.

Yesterday HCFA (part of HHS and manages Medicare and Medicaid) admitted that it won't be ready by 2000, though many of its systems supposedly will be fixed in time. The Medicare program depends on 70 outside contractors, not all of whom will be ready. But what struck me most was that Joel Willemssen (of the GAO) criticized HCFA for planning to implement (put into real-time operation) so many new or corrected programs at once. This is the first time I've seen any indication that a federal official understands anything about software metrics and residual errors. I've been at some pains to question the logic and assumptions of "Infomagic" and others who try to paint doomsday scenarios based on residual errors, but the fact is that residual errors are a major problem: witness what happened to Samsonite, the FAA (its new ATC software crashed and had to be taken out), the U.S. Senate (its new acc/fin software is a mess), etc.

Finally, everyone keeps talking about the March 31st deadline for the roughly 6,700 (originally it was 8,500) "mission-critical" federal computer systems. The federal govt. has roughly 73,000 computer systems overall. What about those other 66,000 systems? What in hell are those systems doing? How many are connected to mission-critical systems? How many are being fixed? Why doesn't Koskinen ever mention them? Where is the data on them?

To say that the amount of work ahead is "daunting" might be the greatest understatement of all time.

-- Don Florence (, January 21, 1999.

Kevin and everyone, I was just searching the GAO's site and came upon the latest report as of January 20th, which I hadn't seen yet. (When you posted this thread I was away, otherwise I would have gone and look for it then.) Here's the link to the entire GAO report posted Jan. 20. You can view it in PDF or ASCII formats. It is worth reading the entire report.


Source: OMB quarterly reports. As federal agencies have more fully realized the complexities and extent of Year 2000 activities, estimated costs have also continued to rise. As figure 2 illustrates, since February 1997, the federal government's Year 2000 cost estimate has more than tripled.

Page 5 GAO/T-AIMD-99-50

Figure 2: Federal Government's Year 2000 Estimated Costs (Dollars in Billions)

Note: The August 1998 figure of $6.3 billion and the November 1998 figure of $7.2 billion are the totals of all individual submissions from the 24 major departments and agencies that were generally submitted on August 14th and November 13th, respectively. In its summaries of the agency reports, OMB reported the government's total estimated Year 2000 costs as $5.4 billion and $6.4 billion, respectively. For the August 1998 costs, OMB did not include all costs in its estimate because, for example, it was still reviewing some of the estimates provided by the agencies. For the November 1998 costs, OMB did not provide explanations in its report for the discrepancies between the agency reports and its estimates for 15 of the 18 agencies with differences.

Source: February 1997 data are from OMB's report Getting Federal Computers Ready for 2000, February 6, 1997. May 1997 through May 1998 data are from OMB's quarterly reports. The August and November 1998 data are from the quarterly reports of the 24 major federal departments and agencies.

In addition, many agencies have not met, or are at high risk of not meeting, OMB's interim target dates for completing assessment, renovation, and validation of systems to be repaired. As of mid- November 1998, 4 of the 24 major departments and agencies (17 percent) reported that they had not completed assessing their mission- critical systems to be repaired-- over a year behind OMB's governmentwide target of June 1997,

Page 6 GAO/T-AIMD-99-50

16 of the 24 major departments and agencies (67 percent) reported that they had not completed renovating their mission- critical systems to be repaired-- several weeks after OMB's governmentwide deadline of September 1998, and 6 of the 24 major departments and agencies (25 percent) reported that they had validated 50 percent or fewer of their mission- critical systems to be repaired (OMB's governmentwide target to complete validation is January 1999).

Federal agencies must also be concerned about the Year 2000 readiness of their telecommunications and embedded systems. However, according to the 24 major departments' and agencies' November 1998 quarterly reports, many agencies had not completed inventorying and/ or assessing their telecommunications or embedded systems.

Many federal agencies that are trying to cope with this enormous task are also facing concerns about whether they have sufficient staff. As we reported in April 1998 8 and again in October 1998, 9 many agencies have expressed concerns that the personnel needed to resolve their Year 2000 problems would not be available. However, comments from these agencies are largely anecdotal, and a comprehensive, analytical assessment of the issue has not yet been made. As a result, the full extent and severity of the Year 2000 workforce issue across the government is not known. The President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council have various initiatives underway to address Year 2000 personnel issues.

However, it is not yet known whether these efforts will ensure an adequate supply of qualified personnel to solve the government's Year 2000 problem. Among our recommendations on this issue was that OMB determine if recent OPM initiatives have satisfactorily addressed agencies' reported personnel problems and, if they have not, designate an official to work with OPM and the CIO Council to help individual agencies resolve their Year 2000 workforce concerns. The Chair of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion and officials representing the CIO Council, OMB, and OPM concurred with our recommendations."

-- Chris (, February 22, 1999.

Sorry the link didn't take, here it is

http://www.gao.g ov/cgi-bin/getrpt?T-AIMD-99-50

-- Chris (, February 22, 1999.

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