Transcript of Koskinem chat respnse, feeding time!!!! : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Y2K Czar John Koskinen Chat With Chief of the Nations Millennium Compliance Program

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Will the federal government be adequately prepared to deal with the millennium bug? This week, a special Senate Y2K panel released a report detailing widespread disturbances that could occur on and after Jan. 1, 2000. According to the report, all sectors of the economy are at risk, including public utilities, health care, telecommunications, transportation, banking and finance and national security. In addition, the report cites serious concerns about the Y2K readiness of state and local governments. John Koskinen is chairman of President Clinton's Year 2000 commission. A former high ranking executive in the Office of Management and Budget during the early years of the Clinton Administration, Koskinen spent over 20 years working in the private sector as a crisis management specialist. John Koskinen joins us for a live chat on Friday at noon ET. You can post your questions now.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Gideon from at 12:00pm ET Mr Koskinen: Senator Bennett stated in his press conference the other day that the United States will most likely only experience a "bump in the road" due to Y2K failures. This seems to be your position as well. However it is widely acknowledged that a significant number of foreign governments and businesses will most likely experience fairly severe Y2K failures. If we are indeed part of a "global economy", how can the U.S. economy / security remain unscathed in such a scenario? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Moderator at 12:01pm ET Mr. Koskinen now joins us. Please send in your questions. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Koskinen at 12:01pm ET We are concerned about the lack of preparedness in a number of countries in the world. However, fortunately, our largest trading partners in Europe and N. America appear to be in very good shape. So while some specific companies may have problems with their foreign trading partners, overall we do not expect a significant negative impact on the American economy from failures abroad. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Eric Scheu from [], at 12:02pm ET If America experiences more than just a "bump in road" and things get very severe in the days, weeks, and months following y2k, does the government have a National Emergency Survival Plan in the works, to mitigate the human suffering that could eventuate if food, fuel and supplies where greatly curtailed both nationally and globally. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Koskinen at 12:03pm ET Let me again by stating that there is no evidence in any of our infomration that will have anything like that experience. Nonetheless, FEMA, which oversees response to domestic emergencies, is working with state and local emergency organizations to insure that we are as ready for whatever the year 2000 brings as we are for natural disasters including hurricanes and earthquakes. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Cheryl from at 12:04pm ET Do you think the federal government will need to take action at some point to prevent people from panicking and withdrawing their savings from banks? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Koskinen at 12:05pm ET No. I think that the American public have great common sense, and will respond appropriately if they are confident that we and companies in the private sector are providing them with all the information we have about the state of preparedness of organizations in the United States, and the risks for which people should be prepared. Therefore, I do not foresee the government having a need to restrict people in responding to the year 2000 problem in ways that they deem appropriate. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Tryphosa from at 12:05pm ET Will there be any repercussions for companies(or any agencies) who falsify their Y2K readiness to consumers, companies and/or the federal government? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Koskinen at 12:07pm ET The most significant sanction any company will face is its inability to transact business if they're not prepared for the transition to the year 2000. Therefore, certainly the large companies in every industry are spending millions of dollars to meet this challenge. If a company has falsely stated it will be ready, those adversely affected will have the normal legal recourse for failure to provide products or services that they have in the normal course. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Greg from [], at 12:07pm ET With all the opinions going around these days, what is your evaluation on the worst it will get, particularly in large populated areas where power and transportation are at risk due to compliance factors? I live in the Philadelphia, PA area. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Koskinen at 12:09pm ET I think in the large populated areas, we will not have any major failures of the critical infrastructure, including our telecommunications and banking. Our concern is with those organizations in both the private as well as public sector who may not be paying enough attention to this problem and therefore will not be ready. The risks of such inaction are primarily with some, but not all, smaller companies or local governments. Therefore I think what we will face on January 1, 2000 is the possibility of a series of local outages in terms of services, primarily where the chief executive of the company or the mayor or city manager or county executive has not had solving the Y2K problem as one of their top priorities. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- nick from [], at 12:10pm ET I guess that my biggest concern is national security. I have read that the Russians are in hot water with their y2k situation, especially concerning their nuclear programs. What measures are being taken to ensure that there are no "accidental" launches resulting from computer error or false launch detections? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Koskinen at 12:12pm ET We have established that nuclear weapons in Russia and in the United States cannot be fired without human intervention. Therefore there is no risk that weapons will go off on their own as a result of Y2K failures. On the other hand, we are concerned about a possible failure in the early warning system run by the Russian government which could cause increased anxiety in that country's leaders. Therefore we are working directly with the Russians to develop a system of shared information about possible threats during the transition to the year 2000, so that they will not have a lack of information or erroneous information. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Tom Zinck from at 12:13pm ET What contingency plans is the Federal gov't recommending families make ?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Koskinen at 12:15pm ET At this time, we do not have any information indicating there will be broad national failures of the basic infrastructure. Therefore our advice now, which we will continue to update for the public, is that people take the normal precautions they would take in the middle of the winter, where there is always the possibility of blizzards or ice storms that can result in temporary outages of power or telecommunications. Included in those preparations are actions that people should take as a matter of course, such as reading and preserving financial information they receive from their banks and credit card companies. Also, since January 1, 2000 comes on a Saturday - which means we'll have a long weekend with the federal holiday on Friday - we think it's appropriate as people normally do to have 2 to 3 days supply of food and water. That's our national advice, but we are encouraging citizens to engage in a conversation with their local government units and service providers to determine whether there are risks of local problems that would affect them more directly. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Moderator at 12:16pm ET This next question is from Drew: Drew from [] at 11:16am ET With even the Red Cross encouraging the storing of necessities for the Y2k crises, why hasn't the president also warned people to at least be prepared for a one-week emergency, with extra food and essentials on-hand?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Koskinen at 12:17pm ET We have and are providing people with advice we think is appropriate in light of the information we have available. At this point we don't think every American needs to have a week's supply of food and water. At the point that something happens that causes us to change our views, however, we will do so promptly. But at this time it is clear that substantial progress is being made by power, telephone companies and banking institutions across the country, all of whom expect to be ready for 2000 well in advance of the end of this year. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dan Cervo from [], at 12:17pm ET What plans are you and your family making for Jan 1, 2000? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Koskinen at 12:18pm ET To demonstrate my confidence in the air traffic system, I will be flying with my wife to NYC on a commercial airliner late Friday night New Year's Eve and will return on the first available commercial airliner early Saturday morning. My wife and I plan to, as we do on any winter weekend, have food and water sufficient for that weekend. Other than that we are taking no other precautions. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Moderator at 12:20pm ET John Stich from [], at11:05am ET The majority of media coverage regarding Y2K compliance centers on government readiness. Don't you think that most people will be affected more by private sector problems (i.e. food, gasoline, etc.)? What is your best assessment of private business compliance?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Koskinen at 12:22pm ET I think it was understandable that up until recently, there was significant focus on the status of federal programs, because the federal government provides billions of dollars of services and support to millions of Americans. However, I think you're exactly right; at this time in light of the great progress made by the federal government, any problems we confront in the United States are not going to come from the failure of federal systems, but from difficulties experienced either in systems operated by states or local governments or the private sector. However, as noted earlier, at this time all the information we have which we have shared with the public shows that there is no indication of national failures in critical areas such as transportation, power, telecommunications and banking. Therefore, the appropriate place to be concerned is at the local level with regard to the local providers of service in the public and private sectors. Fortunately, most states, counties and cities, as well as local service providers, have been working hard on this problem. But we are concerned by some of the smaller organizations which now seem to be saying they'll wait to see what breaks and then they'll fix it. We have been advising everyone we can that that's an extremely high-risk strategy. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Moderator at 12:22pm ET A message from PMC: Please consider initiating national TV/radio awareness messages. Any plans for this?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Koskinen at 12:26pm ET We have been considering how to increase the level of public awareness about this program since I began one year ago. We ran a major national campaign entitled Y2K Action Week last October with the Small Business Administration, Commerce Department, Agriculture Department, and the postal service, which included advertisements in over 250 newspapers nationwide. We're going to run a more detailed but similar campaign the week of March 29th, again focused on encouraging small businesses particularly to deal with this problem. We will provide them directly, for no charge, technical information about how to deal with this problem. We are also encouraging every company in the United States to share information directly with their customers about their state of readiness for the year 2000. Later this spring or early this summer, we will also mount a campaign for community conversations in towns and cities across the United States designed to increase the amount of information provided to individual citizens from their local government units, power companies, telephone co.s, banks, hospitals, and other local service providers. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bruce from [], at 12:27pm ET The Post Office appears to be in sad shape. What effect will this have?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Claude from [], at 12:28pm ET You mention great progress made by the government. Please comment on the status of the Postal Service. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Koskinen at 12:30pm ET I have met several times with the postmaster general and the senior leadership of the post office, and also reviewed their performance with the general accounting office. It is clear that the postmaster personally is focused on this problem as a significant priority for the post office. They are making substantial progress, and I expect them to meet the 2000 challenge effectively by the end of this year. They have already tested their mail processing equipment successfully. They also understand that they play a major role in teh contingency planning of other organizations, such as banks, insurance companies and the Social Security administration, who want to be sure they can provide paper checks as a backup if necessary. They have assured me and the Congress that they will be prepared to handle whatever additional volume of mail occurs within the first few days and weeks of the year 2000. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grace from [], at 12:30pm ET You and your wife will be traveling in the US .. is air travel to Asia or any other country going to be safe? How about Aisa, Australia, etc.? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Koskinen at 12:33pm ET International air travel is much more complicated in terms of ascertaining the state of Y2K preparedness. While I am very confident that there will not be any unreasonable delays from the year 2000 problem for travel within the United States, I do not have that level of confidence at this time about travel generally internationally. However, the FAA is working closely with the International Civil Authority Organization and the International Air Traffic Association to assess the readiness of the major airports in the world. It is not clear that there will be enough time to gain similar information for some of the smaller aiports, particularly in the developing countries, who often have started later in dealing with the year 2000 problem. The State Department later this year will be providing travelers' advisories which will incorporate information we have available at that time. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ron Rodgers from [], at 12:33pm ET Mr. Koskinen: What preparations are being made, or are in place, to protect the core of our federal government (President, Congress, Supreme Court, ...) and their ability to continue to function in the event of unexpected, but nonetheless possible, large disruptions from y2k? We have read, for example, that Washington D.C. may be shut down by computer failures. Are there plans to protect the safety and ensure the workings of government at secure locations outside of Washington? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Koskinen at 12:34pm ET We do not expect the District of Columbia, even though it has started later than many large cities, to be shut down by computer failures. The pwoer and water systems in DC are run by other organizations who expect to be year 2000 -compliant this year. However, there are continuity of operations plans to ensure the effective operation of the federal government in response to any significant crisis, and those plans will be available for whatever reason they are needed as we move into the year 2000. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jim from [], at 12:35pm ET Okay, the question everyone wants to hear an answer to: What will be the impact to the IRS? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Koskinen at 12:36pm ET Many people are sad to learn that the IRS will indeed be able to keep up with the status of your tax filings in 1999 and the year 2000. Of direct significance to the vast majority of people is that the IRS expects to be able to process refunds confidently and accurately in the spring of the year 2000 for those who filed their tax returns for 1999 after January 1, 2000. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Moderator at 12:36pm ET Thanks so much for joining us. Any final thoughts or comments? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Koskinen at 12:38pm ET I'm sorry I have to leave for a television interview, since I've enjoyed having the chance to respond directly to a series of very good questions. My conclusions are that the year 2000 problem is a legitimate and real challenge that deserves the close attention of everyone, particularly those in authority in organizations in the public and private sector. We all have an obligation to do whatever we can to ensure that systems under our control function effectively on January 1, 2000, and that the public knows everything we know about the problem. If we continue to make the progress that we are, I think we can meet the President's goal referred to in his State of the Union message of having the year 2000 problem be the last headache of the 20th century, not the first crisis of the 21st. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

At least 216 in audience

Include old messages Name:

What is your question?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Your message will go into a queue accessible only to the chat moderator, who will select and post messages. Please understand that we receive many more questions than we can post and answer in the allotted time. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Related Story Senate Moves on Y2K

-- Nikoli Krushev (, March 05, 1999


Moving to Recent Answers, Dangit NONE of my questions got answered.

-- Nikoli Krushev (, March 05, 1999.

Notice that in response to the question: Will we have a declaration of a national emergency? Kosky's response was:"Let me again by stating that there is no evidence in any of our infomration that will have anything like that experience."

Hmmmm, "...there is NO EVIDENCE in any of OUR INFORMATION...". Where have I heard THAT kind of response before? Oh yeah! Bill Clinton and this administration when asked about Chineese campaign donation questions. Bill when asked about improper technology transfers he authorised. Bill when denying his "improper indiscretions" with young interns. Hillary when asked about the Whitewater billing records. Bill when asked about his timing on the Iraq bombing in December. Etc...etc...etc.

"You will find no evidence...." is a very lawyerly way of denying something without denying it.

Kosky's learned ClintonSpeak very well hasn't he?

To all our peril.

-- INVAR (, March 05, 1999.

Strange that this chat was not advertised so that America could take part in it. There were an average of about 210 people on the chat line! Let's see... 270,000,000 people and only 210 checking to see what the Czar had to say.

-- a peon (, March 05, 1999.

Sounded like pure, unadulterated bullshit to me.

-- Pearlie Sweetcake (, March 05, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ