Koskinen meeting minutes

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From http://www.y2k.gov/ Here are Koskinen's Y2K meeting minutes from Jan 14. Be sure to read the STRATEGIES FOR PREVENTING PUBLIC OVERREACTION and the REGULATORY CHALLENGES sections.


Meeting Minutes January 14, 1999


John Koskinen, Assistant to the President and Chair of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion (Council), opened the meeting at 1:30 p.m. in the Board Room of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Building. He noted that only 351 days remain until the year 2000 (Y2K).

The Chair welcomed new members Don Wyneger, of the Department of Commerce (DOC), and John Sepulveda, of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). He also announced new Council staff and noted their primary areas of responsibility. An updated directory of Council members and key staff was included in the meeting package.


The Chair commented on the smooth transition from 1998 to 1999. He said that recent Y2K events, including roll out of the Y2K information line (1-888-USA-4-Y2K) and the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) Y2K readiness announcement, received positive media coverage.

The first meeting of the Senior Advisors Group is scheduled for January 21, 1999. A list of the Senior Advisors Group members was included in the meeting package. This meeting will focus on: (1) strategies to prevent possible public overreaction; (2) the status of industry-wide contingency plans and emergency response mechanisms; and, (3) the best methods of coordinating those plans with the Federal Government's contingency planning efforts. It was noted that not every sector and Working Group has a representative; rather, membership is limited to focus on interconnected areas.

The Chair observed that Congressional attention to Y2K matters is increasing, and that he has been asked to testify at several upcoming committee meetings (e.g., Appropriations, Ways and Means). In addition, monthly congressional staff briefings continue. Growing attendance at these briefings indicates that members of Congress are receiving more Y2K-related inquiries from constituents.

The Chair noted the importance of encouraging greater Y2K coordination in the District of Columbia metropolitan area. Some Council members will be asked to participate in a meeting regarding the DC Metro Area in late February. The Chair observed that the Federal Government must be prepared to address in a coordinated manner any Y2K issues that arise at the local level, and affect the operations of the Federal government. Interrelated contingency plans and emergency response planning for the Federal Government will be a topic of discussion at the next Council meeting.


The Chair announced that the Council's first quarterly summary of industry assessment information was released last week. In addition, additional mid-winter as well as late-spring, and late-summer assessments are planned for release. The report, a copy of which was included in the meeting package, is available on the Web at http://www.y2k.gov. The Chair thanked the Council members for their contributions and encouraged them to continue working with industry trade associations to ensure the completion of future surveys. He noted that publishing assessment information regularly is critial to increase public confidence. The assessments establish benchmarks for comparisons, which will assist companies in determining whether their efforts to combat the Y2K computer problem are proceeding apace within their industry. It was noted that, in several industry areas, trade associations are still working to gather initial survey data on the status of their members' Y2K efforts. In particular, more information is needed in the areas of health care, public safety, solid waste, information technology, and tribal governments.

The Chair urged Council members to begin developing input for the next quarterly summary, which will be published in April 1999. Submissions should be made as early as possible and kept to three pages (or less) in length. The goal is to post the summary report on the Web and provide links to the actual survey documentation referenced. Companies may ask the Council to post the survey documentation, if they do not wish to use their own Web sites.


The Chair led a discussion about strategies for preventing public overreaction regarding the Y2K computer problem. He cautioned that statements made by anyone in a position of authority in the Federal Government could be scrutinized by others, extrapolated, and applied to all sectors of the economy. It is important to determine both the nature of the public's fear regarding Y2K, and the target audience for Y2K information, in order to facilitate the development of helpful and appropriate messages.

The Chair acknowledged that commonly heard fears and concerns involve banking, air travel, and nuclear power plants. Frank Miraglis, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), referenced the agency's recently released contingency plan, noting that it could be viewed in a positive (e.g., demonstrates prior planning) or negative (e.g., highlights risks) way. Mortimer Downey, Department of Transportation (DOT), reported that DOT has made substantial progress working with the media to combat public fears of "planes falling out of the sky."

The Chair advised the Council members to bring public concerns to the Council's attention. He reiterated that the public must be assured that the Federal Government has an emergency response and contingency planning process in place, and that contingency planning must be done in a very public manner. In addition, members are urged to submit any Y2K public relations materials to the Council for review before release to ensure that public announcements are appropriate and consistent. The Council will issue an overall public advisory, if needed. Leigh Shein, OPM, cautioned that lack of news will be viewed as bad news. He suggested that the Council craft an overall message and use free media to spread it. John O'Keefe, Department of State, said that departmental policy does not allow double standards; guidance issued to employees must be issued to the public. The Chair agreed, noting that members should assume that all Y2K preparedness statements will become public knowledge.

Janet Abrams, Council Executive Director, observed that a basic question for which people want an answer is "How shall I prepare myself and my family?" It would be helpful for the Council to have a common understanding of how to responsd. The Chair suggested asking the Council staff to develop suggested responses, based on current data, for membership review and comment.


The Chair reminded the members that a toll-free telephone number (1-888-USA-4Y2K) is now available for consumer Y2K inquiries. Doug Hecox, Council staff, reported that the information line received 2,700 calls on the first day and 26,620 calls during the first 2 weeks. The operation has already expanded from 9 operators to 36, soon to be 48. Categories that have received the most inquiries to date include electric industry, government planning, and banks.

Janet Abrams encouraged the members to call the toll-free information line and evaluate the responses to common questions. Any concerns should be reported to Doug Hecox, of the Council staff. George West, World Bank, suggested publicizing the toll-free information line results (e.g., number of calls, types of questions). The Chair agreed, noting that the results would provide an interesting news story. In addition, he recommended posting the results monthly on the Council's Web site (http://www/y2k.gove). Mike Alexander, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), asked about focusing efforts on disseminating local information because problem (e.g., power outages) are more likely to occur at the local level. The Chair suggested asking the Senior Advisors Group to address this issue.

George West suggested matching public and Federal Government concerns to develop appropriate responses. He also observed that state and local governments may wish to establish information lines. Janet Abrams reported that many states have established links to the Council's Web site. Don Wynegar, DOC, asked if the Council's Web site includes a feedback medhanism (e.g. survey mechanism). He noted the availability of software packages that perform such functions.


Al Pesachowitz, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), discussed EPA's Y2K enforcement policy, which is available on the Web at http://www.epa.gov/year2000/finapol.htm. The policy states that EPA will waive 100 percent of the civil penalties that might otherwise apply, and recommend against criminal prosecution, for environmental violations caused by specific tests to identify and eliminate Y2K-related malfunctions. The policy is limited to testing-related violations disclosed to EPA by Febraury 1, 2000, and it is subject to certain conditions.

Al Pesachowitz said that because many EPA programs are delegated to the states, convincing the states to accept the Federal policy is an issue. Some have expressed concern about the testing of equipment because opening equipment may void warranties. Additionally, some people are reluctant to share information because they fear the Year 2000 Information and Readiness Disclosure Act does not afford adequate protection.

Frank Miraglia notd that the NRC has mechanisms for granting enforcement discretion, which may be used to handle Y2K issues. Specifically, he cited a regulation that allows operators to deviate from their license if acting to protect public health and safety. The NRC recently released its Y2K contingency plan for review and comment. A copy of the plan was included in the meeting package.

The Chair observed that in the normal enforcement process, certain standards must be met to avoid fines and/or closure. In the event of Y2K disruptions, however, it may be important for functions to continue. Al Pesachowitz noted that EPA laws include enforcement discretion. The key is demonstrating due diligency with action to protect public health and safety. The Chair suggested that the EPA and NRC share the results of their public comment periods on the new regulations. He noted the importance of establishing a common approach to enforcement. Robert Colby, Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), emphasized developing a consistent schedule for enforcement.


The Chair noted the importance of streamlining the Federal Government's process for requesting information from the states. He reported that state coordinators are concerned about the state operation of Federal programs because each agency may have different independent verification and validation (IV&V) requirements. The Council has asked the Department of Labor (DOL) to share its IV&V requirements. Ed Hugler, DOL, provided an overview of the DOL requirements, copies of which will be provided to the Council. As much as possible, Federal agencies are asked to use the DOL requirements so that the states will have uniform reuirements.

Al Pesachowitz expressed concern about possibly inundating the states with requests, noting that the states operate approximately 160 Federal programs. Rather, he suggested working with the National Governors Association (NGA) to gather information. Bruce McConnell, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), commented that working through the NGA may not generate a sufficient level of detail. Furthermore, contacting states directly is faster. From a program administration standpoint, agencies need to know which states "work."

The Chair noted that making it easier for the states to respond to information requests will result in the collection of better information. Kathy Adams observed that uniformity is difficult because of the way state programs are funded. Gene Dodaro, General Accounting Office (GAO), suggested asking the states about their internal IV&V requirements. Bruce McConnell said that OMB is collecting data from approximately 10 agencies that have programs operated by the states. The data will highlight the states that have the highest level of agency confidence. The Chair asked OMB to schedule a programmatic meeting with the 10 agencies to determine how they plan to ask the states for information. More agencies may be invited to attend the meeting. Bruce McConnell noted plans to work through the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion and the Federal Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council to convene this meeting.


Stephan Malphrus, Federal Reserve System, reported that the Holiday Task Force has developed a preliminary discussion draft paper about the pros and cons associated with having a Y2K holiday on Friday, December 31, 1999, or Monday, January 3, 2000. The draft paper was included in the meeting package. The Task Force expects to deliver a final paper to the Chair by the end of February 1999.

SOURCE: http.../transcript.pl?group=comp.software.year-2000%3A50056197%3A50056197&update=172

-- Anon (anon@abc.com), February 09, 1999


In note to overreaction, I would feel better if I knew how I personally was going to be taken care of in an emergency. Where is my nearest shelter going to be? Will there be adequate staff? How will I be informed to move to the shelter area? Are the shelter plans capable of the handling the area population? Are there supplies stored at the shelter location to meet the needs of the local populus? for how long? Is there any training I should take now to be ready to assist in the shelter? What should I bring? etc...


-- Mike (justmike11@yahoo.com), February 09, 1999.

Mike, are you attempting to troll for flames here? I assume that you are, if you aren't...

How do you find friends that are willing to wipe your ass for you?

Do the boy scouts complain because you require their help to cross the street every day?

-- d (d@usedtobedgi.old), February 09, 1999.

Overall, the minutes seem to describe a fairly rational approach to a real problem, and it's clear that that group knows that it's a real problem. Crowd control is always a touchy topic. But major public disorder is another real possibility, and it has to be addressed. Whether it will be planned -- and executed -- effectively is another question entirely. Informing the public could be a useful tool. Bullshitting the public may seem useful but it can do great harm.

For 'justmiike" -- FEMA is planning public training courses in emergency preparedness in many major cities. Call FEMA and find out what's available in your area. When you get more familiar with this Forum you may decide that waiting for somebody else to take care of you is a risky course of action. Nobody knows for sure the scope of whatever may - or may not - happen next year.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), February 10, 1999.

Can I peacably DECLINE to go to the shelter? That is my only concern about shelters.

-- Debbie Spence (dbspence@usa.net), February 10, 1999.

Thank you, Anon. Excellent catch.

"He cautioned that statements made by anyone in a position of authority in the Federal Government could be scrutinized by others, extrapolated, and applied to all sectors of the economy."

Dang..... the muzzles are on.

-- Lisa (lisa@work.again), February 10, 1999.

Also, of interest-----

"John O'Keefe, Department of State, said that departmental policy does not allow double standards; guidance issued to employees must be issued to the public." "The Chair agreed, noting that members should assume that all Y2K preparedness statements will become public knowledge."

-- Carol (usa-uk@email.msn.com), February 10, 1999.

I actually entirely agree with Mike, to the extent that local governments should be volunteering this level of information with the community. My own town, which has done extensive work to repair systems under its control, is entirely ignoring the contingency plan aspect, to the extent I see no personal preparation going on either. A recent newspaper article on Y2K identified the specific emergency shelters in town (didn't say how many people they could accommodate), and recommended in the event of a Y2K disruption to bring a blanket with you when you come down to the shelter FOR THE DAY! GEESH!! I want shelters to be serving only those who could not prepare for themselves, but we deserve to know exactly what is and is not being done locally so we can judge what personal preparations are absolutely necessary.

-- Brooks (brooksbie@hotmail.com), February 10, 1999.

I agree with Mike. Any Govt CP must address the physical and funding logistics of shelter, food, water, and waste. If local, state, or federal govts are serious about dealing with potential civil disorder and potential Life Support disruptions, and as has been noted, these people apparently DO get that the possibility of disruption must be considered, then these same people must start being open with JQP about local shelters, and they must begin funded programs immediately to secure supplies of food, water, and waste disposal. FEMA may be conducting local outreach, but where will the necessary funding come from for Life Support? Personally, locally, state, or Fed? No matter which source, each must be able to muster planned response, and the time frame is short.

Two section of these Minutes deal with CP's. Stop and think about what the EPA section means to you personally, if you live downwind or downstream from a "facility". That alone is enough to make me ask hard logistics questions. Going back and rereading the NRC CP, same thing, the CP is neglecting certain areas, especially when one factors in the NRC Audits.

Absolutely. Until there is un-spun public disclosure from a variety of sources stating that there WILL be electricity, telephone, food, security, etc. then we have every right to ask tough questions from our Govt. If there is no need, because of govts inside knowledge (which I doubt exists), for CP and prep, then we need to be told this in an action format, ie. the Govt shouldn't be formulating CP's. But they are. Logically this can only mean that their disaster planners see that there IS a potential problem large enough to warrent a CP and for prep.

I too want to know the local plans, the means of executing those local plans, the means by which those in charge will be keeping those who utilize those plans warm, safe, fed, watered, sanitized, and disease free. I ask this not only of govt entities, but of telecomm, utilities, food production, warehousing, and transportation. JQP needs hard un-spun facts, not vague assurances from some CP. Employees in critical infrastructure need assurances that they and their families will be secure. Any CP worth it's salt needs to be addressing these issues NOW, not later.

-- Mitchell Barnes (spanda@inreach.com), February 10, 1999.

Thank you Books and Mitchell Barnes. The reason I posted this reply was to consider ways to quell the public perception of panic. If I knew this information I could determine the impact on myself much better. We all know this is how the majority of Americans think.

As to d, I am not a troll by my eyes. I have not tried to offend anyone. I just wanted to provide information or ideas for others to think about.

I agree with Debbie Spence, The decision to go to a shelter should be your own, no force involved. If you wanted to eat meals there and sleep at your house, that should be your own choice. There are there to assist you, right?

Thanks Tom Carey about the FEMA info. They also have web based courses for CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) along with web based tests that lead to some sort of certification. If it looks good I will plan to get a number of people involved.

By the way, thanks to Anon for the minutes. These type of posts are invaluable.


-- Mike (justmike11@yahoo.com), February 10, 1999.

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