Koskinen and the National Press Club

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 This document was included (a few posts down) in the thread below . I have edited it so if you would like to see the full text please check the original.

Sen. Bennett said to stockpile information. That doesn't cost much Eh? I think that the best way to "work" with Koskinen's CCs is to help folk understand what the problem is and what it isn't.

Good luck!

Yourdonites: Need good questions for Hartford, CT Community Conversations town meeting

This is a big help in understanding the CC series. This turned up at Steve Davis' Coalition2000 BB thanks to Curt Bury:

Thanks to Jason McNamara (FEMA rep to the Presidents Council), we have a transcript of Monday's Press Conference announcing the nationwide Community Conversations campaign.


Transcript of Today's Community Conversations Press Conference, National Press Club, Washington, D.C. Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 18:23:36 -0400 From: Jason McNamara Jason_R._McNamara@WHO.EOP.GOV

MR. KOSKINEN: Thank you, Bill. I'm delighted to join you again. And let me thank both Bill, U.S. Newswire, and the National Press Club for allowing us to meet with you here this morning.


But most services are delivered locally. And the greatest domestic risk for Y2K-related failures is at the local level. We can't tell you, in the context of providing national information, about any particular locality's status, in terms of either the operations and the efforts that are being made by the local government at the city and the county level, or by individual providers of critical services in those communities.


But in many communities, there has been a lack of effort or attention to this problem increasingly on the theory that "we can wait and see what happens, and then fix systems after they break or cease to function." Or, in other communities where a significant amount of work has been going on, there's been a great reluctance on sharing information with the public about the status of that work, the work that remains to be done and the appropriate responses to be taken by the communities.


The goal of the campaign is not to be cheerleaders or to present a false picture of security about the status of situations at the local level. The goal is to provide factual information on a community-by-community basis about what the status of the work on the Year 2000 is in that community, what work remains to be done, what the risks are and what preparations are appropriate for each community in light of the risk that are in that community.


designates July as National Y2K Disclosure Month, to encourage greater information-sharing with the public and encourages others to join him in that effort. And we hope that the Congress will react favorably to that proposal from Representative Ford. We've had great cooperation from Y2K officials in many states and cities, and our senior advisers group, who are reaching out to their members.


But again I would stress that this is a national campaign for local conversations. This is not the federal government coming into communities telling people what to do. All we are doing is trying to be the catalyst for increasing the amount of conversation that goes on at the local level. So while we will try to be as supportive as we can, we would urge that people view this as their local community's attempt to deal with this issue as part of this national undertaking.

Snip State, financial, health, power efforts

MS. HADLEY: Thank you very much for inviting me to be here. As chairman of the Citizens for a Stable Community from Clearwater, Florida, I am very happy to be here to help launch this initiative, this program looks like it's going to go really far.

By now, we're all aware of the Y2K problem, with its embedded chips, software, hardware, linkage problems. The thing that we haven't been focusing on is the Y2K problem called people: how are they going to react to something that has never happened before? What do we do to get them prepared without creating runs on banks and stores? And the common thought has been "Well, we'll soft-pedal it, we'll pretend it won't be there." And there's even been plenty of legal advice that has been out to those people and agencies that effectively muzzles those very people we need to hear the most from. So at this point, I can see that that's going to stop.

Last June, my husband James and I decided we needed to do something in our community. So we set out to create open channels of communication in our community between the citizens and its leaders and the service providers. Now, at that point, it wasn't easy. But there were a few who would step forward and come to our weekly meetings and give information. And by doing do, they gave our community-and did it a great service.

As a result, we had citizens who would come in nervous. They would listen to this, and they visibly calmed when they actually got information straight from the horse's mouth. They went home with a little more confidence in their officials and in themselves and in their future. It wasn't just the citizens who were asking for straight talk. Even our local governments were in the basic Y2K dark. I received a phone call one time from a neighboring city asking what did I know about their neighboring town, what was going on on the Y2K scene, and did I know anything about the county? What were they doing?

Well, at that point, I decided we needed to do something about that. So we organized an informal Y2K pow-wow. and we invited the civic representatives on the Y2K to have lunch together and sit down and share their Y2K successes and their problems.

And it hasn't just been those leaders. It's been our religious communities that have felt that they've been in the dark, too. At our religious leaders Y2K conference, we put together actually a landmark meeting, which brought them together with the emergency management departments and the community policing programs. And at those conferences, we've had basically 44 religious leaders of all faiths come together in a single room, leaving their difference at the door, with the one objective, which was to discuss a common concern: how do we best lead our people into the new millennium?

So from this past year, what have we learned? Well, five main things. One is: communication does solve problems. Secondly, always work with the existing community infrastructure. Third, be an ally, not an opponent-we're all in this together. Fourth, use straight talk and give real information. And fifth, don't wait for someone else to take the lead. That someone is you. Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. KOSKINEN: Thank you, Joose.


And I'm pleased to introduce Louis Spartan, who is the director of the program office of Y2K Compliance for Frost Bank in San Antonio, Texas, to talk a little about their approach to starting a community conversation. Louis. (Applause.)

MR. SPARTAN: Thank you, John. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I'm pleased to be here. Throughout the country, in large cities, in smaller towns, Americans are being exposed to vast amounts of information on what might happen to society as the century rolls over.

Many people are wondering what the stories that they are hearing mean to their own communities. I am Louis Spartan, the Year 2000 program director for Frost Bank in San Antonio, Texas, that has been actively involved in Y2K preparedness for about three to four years now. Business and government have been working diligently to prepare for the date change. Although much has been accomplished, local conversations about this progress are needed to build and enhance public confidence.

The real Y2K crisis is truly an information crisis. The lack of regular status reports and conversation within the community can lead to a lack of preparedness. In November of 1998, Frost Bank was privileged to become a founding member of the Greater San Antonio Y2K Coalition. Since then, the coalition has promoted a dialogue among members within the community to encourage a better understanding about the community's readiness for January of 2000.

The coalition has held citizens meetings in malls and public facilities. We visited with local churches. We've participated in editorial boards with the local newspapers. We also sent information packets to small businesses, and we spoke at the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and neighborhood association meetings.

The primary goal has been to build public confidence to illustrate that business and government sectors of the city are working together to ensure a smooth transition into 2000. I'm very proud to be a part of the Y2K Community Conversations initiative announced here today. I commend the President's Council for its hard work and its vision in an effort to promote an open dialogue between public and private sectors and the citizens of our community.

I also want to extend a special thanks to Gavin Nichols of HEB food stores, who is providing current leadership to the Y2K initiative in San Antonio and our coalition, and I'm sure after we're done here, we'll be happy to answer any questions you may have. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

MR. KOSKINEN: We actually are done with the formal presentations, and would be pleased to have questions for anyone.

Q Robert MacMillan with Newsbytes. And the question I have is I know that it's better late than never to start preparing for this problem. But I guess my question is now that it's May, and this program is kicking off, how much can be accomplished for some of the-I guess the laggards-at this point?

MR. KOSKINEN: It's a good question. For those in the back of the room who may not have heard the question, the question is with 221 days to go, and while it's never too late to start, is it too late to finish for some people, and what should they do?

Clearly we are running out of time. It's a problem we have domestically as well as internationally. But the point is well made, that our view is wherever you are in the process, if there's more than 221 days' worth of work to do, you might as well start today, because you'll get the first 221 days done. We have stressed across the board with federal agencies, and with our working partnerships, and with a range of industries that no matter how close to being done, or how done you think you are, no one's ever done.

There's no way anyone's giving guarantees that every system is going to work perfectly, no matter how often you've tested it. So it's critical even for those who think they're done, to have appropriate contingency plans and back-up plans, business continuity plans. That's when you think you're done. It is even more critical, if you are late starting, to understand if your plan is to be finished in November or December, you have very little margin for error. And you need at the same time you're working on remediation and testing and implementation of systems, you need to be working on appropriate contingency and back-up plans. And as we've said here today, you need to be discussing those and sharing those and developing those with your local community.

The good news about this is we think and the information wehave about this is that the people most likely to be starting late aresmaller and medium-sized organizations in the public and privatesector. The banking industry is unique because as Scott said, I kid the bankers it's a testimonial to federal regulation, across the board from small to large banks. We've had a very active working partnership over the last couple of years.

But our concerns are not the people who are working on this problem, because they'll either get done and have a back-up plan, or know when they're not going to be done and really be focused on business continuity plans.

Our concern is with people who increasingly are aware of it. There's almost nobody not aware of this problem any more after the last year, year and a half. Our concern is the people, whether they're the city manager, the mayor, the county executive, or the CEO of a local service provider who says "You know, it's not such a big deal. We'll just wait and see what breaks, and then we'll fix it." And we think that's a very high- risk roll of the dice. And we think that there are likely to be at the end of a very long line of other people who waited to see what broke and fixed it. And they are not in fact discharging adequately their responsibilities to their citizens and their customers.


Q. Mr. Koskinen Mike Goldstein, with -- (off mike) -- Broadcasting. Apart from sharing information or an effort to try to get the laggards moving, how much of this is really an effort to try to calm fears at the local level so that there won't be a run on the banks or a run on the stores? I mean, is that really somewhat what's behind this?

MR. KOSKINEN: Well, if you start with it, I think our first concern is to have systems work. As I've told people, our goal is not to get through December 31st, which would be a lot of the area where people are worried about a reaction. Our goal is to getthrough the first couple of months of next year. And so we do notwant people unprepared.


Q But I mean, in reality, what banker is going to come to one of these meetings and say "Gee, you'd better take some money out, we're not ready," or what hospital administrator, in his or her right mind is going to come to one of these and say "you'd better stock up on antibiotics and gauze, 'cause we're a mess."

MR. KOSKINEN: Well, actually, I think that if anybody were in that position, they might do that. And I think more importantly, the citizens will be better able to make a determination of how credible the institution is if they can have a frank conversation about it. The area in which you get into overreaction is when people have no information available at all, where there's a barrier. So our view is we have a lot of confidence in the common sense of the American public. And we think if you can get facts in their hands, real information about what's going on in each of the critical institutions they depend upon, they'll respond appropriately, particularly in a context if they understand that we are working on this nationally across industry lines as well as locally. But ultimately, the issue gets decided at the local level.


MR. KOSKINEN: And I might just add, some of these questions, that our focus is on getting the dialogue going. I think if you're in a community where the mayor, the city manager, the county executive, or those who know about individual critical parts of your infrastructure aren't communicating and won't answer questions, I think you have a right to be concerned. And particularly if you think that their approach is to wait and see, and actually that this is not a big deal that they don't need to pay attention to. This is a big deal. It's important for every community, it's important for every major part of the infrastructure to treat the problem with the seriousness it deserves.

Q. Paul Parson with CNN. The idea that some of these local governments or even local industry might be reluctant to share information and that others may say "Well, let's wait till it breaks and then we'll fix it," how can you envision a campaign like this turning around what already sounds like an attitude set in stone?


MR. KOSKINEN: All right. Thank you, John. If I were you, I'd run for the door while you've got an opening. (Laughs.) Other questions?

Q. Mary Olson from the Nuclear Monitor. And we're actually a publication for the grassroots. And I'd first like to commend this effort, because I think it's exactly what's needed. But-

MR. KOSKINEN: There's always a "but" after the commendation. (Laughs.)

Q. I say "but" only because the energy guy walked for the door. I'd like to put forward, though, this question to encourage the fact that I think that engaged and participating citizens are a lot more empowered than panicking. And one of the pieces there is that contingency plans, even in the sectors that are reporting the highest degree of readiness, also be shared. I was very reassured to hear someone representing NERC talking about the importance of contingency plans. But is that a key piece of how the packet is put together?



" What we need is that third step. "And if there is a problem, this is what our contingency plan looks like. This is our back-up plan. This is how we normally are prepared for emergencies, and these are the adjustments we've made to deal with whatever might be unique for that industry with the year 2000 problem."

And I think that dialogue across the board needs to be held, so that people -- first, other service providers-can understand what the contingency plans are. But also so that community groups and governmental organizations can understand if there is a difficult problem, this is the way various sectors are going to respond to it. So we hope, although we can't tell anybody what to do, but we hope that an important part of the dialogue will be exchanged information about what the back-up plans are.

Because as I've said, nobody can guarantee that every system is going to work perfectly. And so, nobody can guarantee there is no need for a contingency plan. Fortunately most of the-all of the critical sectors are used to emergencies, and the real question is can we get a dialogue going about how those emergency plans are being adjusted and tailored for the year 2000. .

Q. I'm assuming that these community conversations take place more than once in each town ?

MR. KOSKINEN: Good point. The question is are we hoping that these will be more than one-time events. One of the reasons we have case studies in there is because they make that point-that the hardest event to get is the first event, but our hope is that people will understand in each community that this is an ongoing process. We all are learning more as we go through it. Clearly, especially if people start these conversations as we hope they will do in June, they should not expect, and I don't think the public does expect everybody to be done then. What they will expect is projection as to what the progress is in ongoing updates. So we hope that people will understand that we called these "community conversations" plural not 'cause just we wanted them in a number of communities, but we hope that they will be an ongoing dialogue within each community about the status of our remediation as well as the status of local community preparedness.

-- Brian (imager@home.com), May 31, 1999

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