A very unusual poll -- just answer three questions

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I posed one of these three questions a couple of months ago because I didn't know the answer. Now I think I have some official information to at least one of them, but before I tell you what I found out, I think it would be revealing to poll forum participants, who are among the best informed about Y2k, to see if we can learn something about ourselves. OK, here are the questions:

1. Would you characterize yourself as (A) optimistic, (B) neutral, (C) pessimistic or (D) extremely pessimistic concerning the economic and social impact Y2k will have on the federal government.

2. If the federal government is completely successful in making compliant ALL of it's mission-critical systems, what percentage (based on the governments own estimates) would this figure represent with regard to all of its computer systems? (a) less than 10% (B) greater than 10%, but less than 25% (C) greater than 25%, but less than 50% (D) greater than 50%, but less than 75% (E) greater than 75%?

3. In order for the population to receive the level of service from the federal government that WILL NOT cause major economic distress or social unrest due to Y2k, what percentage of ALL of the federal government's computer systems must be compliant? (A) less than 10% (B) greater than 10%, but less than 25% (C) greater than 25% but less than 50% (D) greater than 50%, but less than 75% (E) greater than 75%

-- Dr. Roger Altman (rogaltman@aol.com), March 19, 1999


In order: D - A - E

-- linda (smitmom@hotmail.com), March 19, 1999.

1. D 2. B 3. E (depending on how major is "major", of course -- could be D, but then I'd have to change my first answer to C)

-- No Spam Please (No_Spam_Please@anon_ymous.com), March 19, 1999.


-- Bobbi (bobbia@slic.com), March 19, 1999.

1. D) extremely pessimistic 2. B) greater than 10%, but less than 25% 3. D) greater than 50%, but less than 75%

-- AorBorCorD (abce@abcd.com), March 19, 1999.

1) C 2) B 3) D

-- Ramp Rat (Aviation_R_us@noname.nocity), March 19, 1999.


-- nurse (rtf5653@ccp.com), March 19, 1999.

C - B - C

-- Brooks (brooksbie@hotmail.com), March 19, 1999.

C - A - D <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), March 19, 1999.

1--D 2--C 3--E

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), March 19, 1999.


-- Bill Solorzano (notaclue@webtv.net), March 19, 1999.

1. (D) Extremely Pessimistic
2. (B) >10%, <25%
3. (E) >75%

-- flb (fben4077@yahool.com), March 19, 1999.

1. - D 2. - B 3. - E

-- Planebuilder (Y2KOldgeek@aol.com), March 19, 1999.

c- b d

-- have q's? (answer@here.com), March 19, 1999.


...although I think we need an "E" for the first category...very very pessimistic...

-- a (a@a.a), March 19, 1999.

1. D with all the interconnections in an almost $2 trillion entity how could it be anything else?

2. A

3. E critical mission, % compliant means nothing... something critical mission to the population could be non-critical to bureaucrats.... what about % IV & V (independently verified and validated)

-- PJC (paulchri@msn.com), March 19, 1999.

B, B, B

The number of utterly meaningless and worthless data and reports collected by the government is mind boggling.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), March 19, 1999.

1. A blend (A) optimistic by nature, recognizing the galvanization of the human spirit under situations of extreme challenge AND (D) very pessimistic concerning the UNEXPECTED global/local economic and social impact Y2k will have on the federal and state governments.

2. (a) less than 10% (Sort of like looking at the vast ocean disappearing on the horizon and recognizing youre only seeing the top of it. Lots more underneath). 3. (C) greater than 25% but less than 50% (We KNOW theres a lot of deadwood in the bureaucracy)


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), March 19, 1999.

D, A, E

moving to the country

-- Jon Williamson (pssomerville@sprintmail.com), March 19, 1999.


-- anita (hillsidefarm@drbs.com), March 19, 1999.


(c)pessimistic concerning the economic and social impact Y2k will have on the federal government.

(b)greater than 10% less than 25% based on the governments own estimates(caution these estimates subject to change & change & change)

(d)greater than 50% less than 75%.

-- Deborah (infowars@yahoo.com), March 19, 1999.

D-D-E With the rage, as in road rage, that is within our population we are going to have a lot of people going postal on us just because of all the little glitches of wrong bills, wrong bank statements, insurnace glitches etc.

-- Taz (tassie@aol.com), March 19, 1999.

D, A, E

The last one requires some explaination: "Death By a Thousand Cuts".

The US gov estimates it has 85,000 systems which are affected. The State gov's probably have an equal number, 85,000 and lets just say that Counties have the same number as well, 85,000. The Federal gov is fed by these State and County data feeds and has said that there are 500,000 data interchanges which ar affected. Not 567,890, not 432,109 but an even 500,000 (its a guess, no one knows).

OK. So these systems are hodgepodged together, the 'mission critical' ARE connected to some massive number of those labelled 'non-mission critical', etc. 255,000 systems. OK. Tell me how tell me how 229,500 of these systems can simple be left to die without 'severely distrupting' services??? Are those systems completely unimportant???

1) They will never remediate any of the systems that are labelled 'non-critical' because they simply do not and will not have the manpower to do it later.

2) No one knows the full extent of these systems interrelationships. Its mostly guesswork. Murphy garrantees there will be 'strange and wonderful' failures. They will probably cascade. Things have been missed. No one has ever tried to unplug 90% of these computers to see what will happen. Think of that! Ha!

-- David (ConnectingDots@Information.Net), March 19, 1999.

1) C 2) C 3) E

Although I try not to be pessimistic in most things, it doesn't seem to me that very many people are viewing this with their eyes wide open as it seems to me they should be (present company excluded).

-- mike (kraem@lnl.ws.giv), March 19, 1999.

C - A - A

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), March 19, 1999.

A - D - D


-- Deano (deano@luvthebeach.com), March 19, 1999.

A poll?

What is the study, or are you writing an article?

-- Anonymous99 (Anonymous99@anonymous.com), March 19, 1999.

D-B-C But is it relevant? I see major problems ahead even if our government was 100% compliant in every way. Private sector including but not limited to banks, electricity,telecommunications,etc. And then foreign trade especially gasoline.

-- Sue (deco100@aol.com), March 19, 1999.

1) C 2) A 3) C


-- jhollander (hollander@ij.net), March 19, 1999.

1)C 2)A 3)D

-- Tim (pixmo@pixelquest.com), March 19, 1999.

C/D - A - E

-- Brett Blatchley (bblatchl@inmar-inc.com), March 19, 1999.

Answer : D- A - E ; Only this makes sence with the present " KNOWNS ". Eagle

-- Harold Walker (e999eagle@freewwweb.com), March 19, 1999.

C - B - D

-- (mybit@cyber.space), March 19, 1999.

1. I don't understand the question. "...the economic and social impact Y2k will have on the federal government.[?]"

What are your defined impacts on the federal government? Will it cease to operate or operate at some reduced percentage or will the government be permanently reduced in size or will the role of government be changed?

Do you mean the impact the (compliancy of the) federal government will have on the economic and social impact of y2k?

2. I don't understand the "spin" on this question. Spin is a two-way street that always reduces the credibility of the speaker or writer...especially in a "poll." A clear and unbiased question would be:

"The federal government estimates that ____% of its systems are classified as "mission critical." A) less than 10% B)..."

Your wordy and redundant question is full of nuance. Disecting the question is left as a self-study exercise for the reader.

3. I can't answer the question. No person on this planet can authoritatively predict quanititative catalysts to the undefined terms "...major economic distress or social unrest..."


I won't beat around the bush. You present yourself as "Dr. Roger Altman." What are your academic credentials, Dr. Altman?

-- PNG (png@gol.com), March 19, 1999.

Oh, come on PNG, just answer the question - 8<) Now, remeber, you have to do it three times, once for the US, then again for Japan.

He's an official "doc" but I forget what discipline - I'm just trying to remember the real numbers before I stick my fingers in the keyboard.


But with bureacrats in charge, most are no better than their information and are far more dependent on their "routines" than the common industrial user, else they would be in industry and not be content with the job security but lower wages common to the government work. The actual impact ON government will be tremendously incapacitating if more than 5% of their machines go down. Now, the rest of the country doesn't specifically stop when federal government stops - so if the rest of the country can get along without the permits, taxes, penalties, reports, and fees going to and coming from the federal state and local governments, the rest of the country could manage okay with the fed's at a 25% efficient rate.

National organizations (banking, stock markets, insurance, and the Dow Jones, Fortune 500) could be killed by the fed government being shut down if their contracts fold - but these guys can withstand a delay in most payments from the Fed's for a couple of days, maybe two weeks. Then cash flow for them gets rough after one month.

State government would be affected most directly by no federal activity - losing money and routine paperwork affecting 50% of their budets and people.

Local government could be effected differently - but since they are actually more important in the daily lives of people and businesses (licenses, fees, inspections, and permits, pollution, cops, fire, 911, schools, garbage, water,....) are all local duties - these will be made up to 10-25% more efficient if the federal government shuts down. Also, local governments tend to "pass" paperwork upstream, for inclusion later - so the the local governement doesn't need to wait for a response to do its job, it just does it.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), March 19, 1999.


The first A is because the effect ON the federal government can only be positive -- makes it smaller.

The effect on people dependent on the fed's isn't quite so rosy (which is one reason I'm a 9.5 on the little-effect/gross-effect scale).

-- Dean -- from (almost) Duh Moines (dtmiller@nevia.net), March 19, 1999.

Yeah Robert, I guess I'm being a jerk...again.

1. - B - Because I don't knowwhat will happen next year, I can't possibly predict how what Idon't knowwill impact the federal government.

2. - B - I'm guessing. Just like the government is.

3. - C - I'm guessing. Just like anyone else would be.

Some "official information" could only be the answer to question 2. Questions 1 and 3 cannot be answered...by anyone. Speculation and opinion are the only things anyone can "offer."

O.K. Dr. You have me waiting on the edge of my chair to learn what you "...found out."

-- PNG (png@gol.com), March 19, 1999.

d a a

-- Mike Lang (webflier@erols.com), March 19, 1999.

C - A - A Seems like a catch here....Questions 2 and 3 are the same, are they not? Critical means critical....If all critical systems are successfully fixed (question 1), then by definition of critical systems, the answer to question 2 must be the same percent as Question 1....i.e., with all critical systems fixed, y2k would be a minor headache at least from federal systems point of view. However, I just don't believe they have the time or the force of will to get all those nasty critical systems fixed in time.....hope I'm wrong, wrong, wrong...

-- seagreen (seagreen@seagreen.com), March 19, 1999.


-- Arlin H. Adams (ahadams@ix.netcom.com), March 19, 1999.

Some idle observations here:

Question 2 is a given. The answer is A. The government has, *by their own estimates* (as stated in the question) defined less than 10% of their systems as critical. If they successfully completed ALL of them, this is still less than 10% by their own definition.

Question 3 is almost a given. If the mission of all agencies can continue without serious problems if the mission-critical systems are fixed (this is the definition of mission-critical), and if we accept that there will be no major economic distress or social unrest if all missions are up and functioning (and why would there be?), and if less than 10% of systems are mission-critical (by government definition), then the answer to question 3 must be A.

An answer of E to question 3 means: There will be major economic distress or social unrest *even if* the government successfully repairs *not only* all their mission critical systems, but *more than half* of their non-critical systems as well. E makes sense only if we assume that these major problems are entirely external to government compliance altogether (maybe religious uprisings?)

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), March 19, 1999.

Now I get it. Very clever.

-- PNG (png@gol.com), March 19, 1999.

Sorry Flint. Not your post. I mean't to say that now I get what Dr. Altman is doing.

-- PNG (png@gol.com), March 19, 1999.

Thanks to all of you who have participated so far in this survey. After reading your observations and criticisms, I realize I could have written the questions more succinctly, and in a less confusing manner. I apologize if I upset some of you, but even my imperfectly crafted questions may provide insight into the different assumptions behind optimistic and pessimistic conclusions. Perhaps by reading all viewpoints, we may begin to understand some of the different ways that optimists and pessimists think.

Roger Altman

I'll give it another day before I post the results of my research. For the person who asked about my educational background, I hold a doctorate degree in engineering science.

-- Dr. Roger Altman (rogaltman@aol.com), March 19, 1999.

before I tell you what I found out,

OK, that's the teaser...

I think it would be revealing to poll forum participants, who are among the best informed about Y2k,

Flattery and smooth words...

to see if we can learn something about ourselves.

Translation: To see if the agency can learn something about you to help us "spin" things better.

Dozens of replies - you folks are incredible.

-- sparks (wireless@home.com), March 20, 1999.


>the agency ... "spin" things better

Oh, please ...

-- No Spam Please (No_Spam_Please@anon_ymous.com), March 20, 1999.

Someone earlier on this thread had an interesting and thought provoking interpretation of the good Drs. questions. They stated that the last two questions would have the same answer because "mission critical" computer compliance would be enough to stem economic distress and civil unrest etc. The term "mission critical" is all important here. Playing devil's advocate, here's why I think the answers may not necessarily be the same. If for example the various branches of government's computers were "mission critical" by 01/01/00, would "mission critical" include the payroll, health and benefits systems of the various employees/contractors that work for those agencies? I don't think so. As time has progressed, various threads have dealt with the fact that many governmental agencies have begun to more narrowly define what is mission critical. As the number of systems shrink, so do the additional services provided by the agencies and departments to the internal and external customers. (By internal customers I mean employees and contractors hired by the government.) If the agencies have windowed out internal systems in favor of keeping the boat afloat (and I personally think that many of them have) it will be a bad day in DC and in other areas of the country where there is a high number of federal employees. What will DC look like if employees and contractors aren't paid for a few weeks, months?

Does anyone remember the government shut downs in the early 90's caused by budgetary brouhaha and all the furor they caused with John Q. Public? I do and these were supposedly "non-essential services" that were shut down. Do you think that the federal government will consider these so called "non-essential services" to be essential for Y2K remediation when facing the possible systemic glitches in the USPS, the FAA, the military? I don't. Unless an agency such as the SSA has taken matters into their own hands and has gotten their act together before this late hour, I think that there will be many facets of government that won't fully function, some more important than others that will affect the public in a death by a thousand cuts scenario.

As a federal employee, I have heard no reassuring words from my employer about my pay status after 01/01/00. For those that think it can't happen, I personally have already had a forshadowing of things to come. For example: My particular job was reclassified as of October 1, 1998. I first saw some of the extra money two weeks ago and it was in the form of an interim payout to approximate the amount they owe me/us as it was getting to near mutiny conditions in some parts of the country over the pay increase delay. It seems that my agency is having a hard time computing the pay, differentials, and retirement contributions etc. of roughly 20,000 employees nation-wide and this is while the computers are running as they should.

What happens if this occurs on a much larger scale? What happens when govt. employees lack the confidence that they will get paid in a timely manner? What happens if the govt. employees are completely unprepared for this and are living pay check to pay check as many are? This is one scenario that I can see that could keep the government partially running to the casual observer but have devastating consequences for some individuals or some areas of the country where the entire infrastucture depends upon govt. employees getting paid. DC for example.

It's happening right now in Russia. Some govt. employees have not been paid for months now and whole towns are on the brink of starvation in western Russia. They are still on the job there, but for how long? This is what happens when a centalized and distant government fails to function as it should. While the US history, infrastructure and national character may be different, we could potentially suffer some of the same effects in pocket areas of our country if DC fails to function as it should after 01/01/00. I that case, the government would be guilty of being overly confident in their ability to rectify the situation post haste or in diminishing the size of the initial situation to begin with. Will it happen? I don't know but it seems plausible to me based upon my experience and it's what we are preparing for. My 2 cents worth.

-- Ramp Rat (Aviation_R_us@noname.nocity), March 20, 1999.

A, B, D


-- John Hebert (jt_hebert@hotmail.com), March 20, 1999.



-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), March 20, 1999.

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