GAO: ONLY 2 OF BIGGEST U.S. CITIES ARE READY FOR YEAR 2000 : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread



Among America's 21 biggest cities, only Boston and Dallas are ready now for the year 2000 computer challenge, a special U.S. Senate committee will hear Thursday.

According to KNIGHT RIDDER, the General Accounting Office has determined that most of the nation's largest cities have not finished year-2000 repair work on computer systems for their water and wastewater treatment facilities, public buildings and emergency services.

The wire has obtained an advance copy of the GAO report, according to publishing sources.


"Y2K-induced failures in these services could significantly affect city residents," says a draft GAO report prepared for submission to the Senate's Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem.

Notable among the least-prepared cities was San Jose, capital of Silicon Valley, the global high-tech center, reports KNIGHT RIDDER.

-- a (a@a.a), July 14, 1999


uh...I'm confused. Is this more "good" news?

-- (@ .), July 14, 1999.

All news on Y2K is "good news" that the "extremists" on this board insist on treating as "bad news" because they have an "agenda" and want the "world to end" so that they can be "proved right".

For instance, we learn here that AT LEAST two cities are ready but that all the rest are still fine, because it doesn't say they aren't.

Water and wastewater systems have very few embedded systems and, even if they did, it wouldn't matter because they don't have enough to gum anything up and, anyway, they're too important not to be fixed, people know that.

And the best of all is San Jose, because it is a high-tech center, so lots of programmers live there. Since programmers live there, they will be working on the problem between now and rollover and can make up for lost time, assuming any time has been lost, which we don't know for sure, because we can't know anything about Y2K except that it is a difficult problem that is being fixed most everywhere without a lot of problems, except for the issues that the doomers try to claim are problems, because they insist on taking good news and turning it into bad news.

Did that help?

-- BigDog (, July 14, 1999.

What puzzles me is that it wasn't that long ago that the Dallas Morning News was reporting a City Council meeting where they were bemoaning the lack of Y2K progress. Perhaps it was addressing different areas of city government other than true public services.

-- Dog Gone (, July 14, 1999.

Boy am I glad I live in San Jose.

-- helium (, July 14, 1999.

There may truly be some who want teotwawki, but I think that number is quite small. What most extreme thinkers want is straight, up front, lay it on the line, remove the sugar coating, no cya fudging honesty. If many had not been caught in lies, it would have been easier to not be such a skeptic.

Dog Gone, I too remember a thread on Dallas being way behind. It seems as though it was within the last three months.

-- Daryl (, July 14, 1999.

Dog Gone -- No, that was GOOD NEWS that Dallas was reporting, because it means that people were aware of the bad news that not much was being done but were now focusing on doing it, which they obviously did because now Dallas is ready and/or the people reporting it were doomers anyhow so don't listen to them but, either way you slice it, Y2K is being fixed/is fixed/will be fixed so stop trying to turn good news into questionable news into bad news.

There is no bad Y2K news.

Live in Dallas. Not to mention San Jose, which has lots of programmers and ....

-- BigDog (, July 14, 1999.

The thing that strikes you about San Jose when you visit, is how modern it looks. Underground utilities, computerized to the hilt, brand-new, high-tech everything.

Guess that has its drawbacks...

-- a (a@a.a), July 14, 1999.

.... because San Jose is so modern, it doesn't have those old embedded systems with them bad clock thingies, so it doesn't need much remediation anyway. And even if it did, it would all get done, because techies are very savvy about "computers" and there are a lot of them in San Jose and ....

-- BigDog (, July 14, 1999.

Down Big Dog, Down - methinks you are chasing your tail! Take a deep breath, have a bone and relax fer'eavans' sake.

Does this now mean that we know exactly where the localized problems are going to be as in every where but Boston and Dallas and apparently we're not sure about Dallas? Well now, that narrows it down doesn't it?

-- Valkyrie (, July 14, 1999.

The article about Dallas was from May 25th:

[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

Council members worry services won't be Y2K-ready by Jan. 1 after hearing report

Staff say it's behind, won't finish some projects until November or December


By Nora Lopez / The Dallas Morning News

Several Dallas City Council members are concerned that some city services may not be Y2K ready when the new year starts.

All city operations were supposed to be Y2K compliant by the end of July, giving staff members a five-month cushion to work out any glitches.

But on Monday, members of the council's Finance and Audit Committee were told that some systems probably won't be ready until November or December.

"Somebody lied to us," said council member Alan Walne, who appeared visibly upset. "What are we supposed to do if in December those systems aren't ready?"

City staff members acknowledged they were running behind on some projects, but they said most of the remaining problems are minor and should not affect city services.

"The critical projects have been completed," said Dan McFarland, the city's chief information officer who is overseeing the Y2K project. "There are still some small items that need work, but it's not going to stop the city from functioning."

Mr. McFarland, who took over the project a month ago, said he is confident the city's computers will be able to handle the Y2K problem by the end of the year. He said city technicians have been writing software since early 1996 that will enable computers to recognize the difference between the year 2000 and 1900 and keep city computers running.

But Mr. Walne and other members of the finance committee remained concerned about the delays.

"This is so critical," said Mayor Pro Tem Mary Poss, chairwoman of the city's Finance and Audit Committee. "The water system, traffic lights, all of those things are controlled by computers. And it concerns me that this is the first time we're being told that we're experiencing some delays."

The council members were particularly concerned about delays in projects previously identified as being a priority, such as the water department.

Three systems in that department - water purification, wastewater treatment and water pumping - are being targeted for completion in November and December. But city officials said the chances that residents won't be able to get water Jan. 1 are minimal because most of the unfinished projects are back-up systems.

"It's going to continue to pump water," Mr. McFarland said. "All of the changes have already been made to the primary system. The very, very worst-case scenario would be that if something happened to the primary system and if the back-up system didn't have all the changes, then potentially there could be a problem pumping water. But we have seven months to square it away."

Water department officials also said later that all three of the systems could be operated manually if necessary.

Other projects on the priority list that have been delayed include the installation of a new mainframe computer, which would handle all of the city's main applications, including payroll, police and fire dispatch. Officials estimate completion of that project by the end of September.

Mr. McFarland said he did not anticipate any problems with that project, because all of the computer programs have been tested and many have been certified as being Y2K ready.

"We've tested the applications and the operating systems," Mr. McFarland said. "All we have to do is put the new mainframe in and bingo, it's ready to go. I think we're as well-prepared, if not more than, many businesses out there."

Robert O'Neal, director of research and information services for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, said Dallas was well- prepared for a city its size.

He said delays are not unusual.

"It just shows the detail in which the city is going through its system and ensuring that it is Y2K ready," Mr. O'Neal said. "Dallas has really gone above and beyond what other organizations are doing."


-- Linkmeister (, July 14, 1999.


The 10 cities that reported that they don't expect to be ready until the last quarter of the year were Los Angeles; Chicago; Phoenix; San Antonio; Detroit; San Francisco; Baltimore; Columbus, Ohio; El Paso, Texas, and Washington. While most of those said they'd be ready by November, Baltimore and El Paso said they wouldn't be prepared until December.

"Obviously the emergency services -- 911, police, and fire -- is the one at the top of everybody's list. And if that's not ready, that's where the mayor and the other top officials should be concentrating most," Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Y2K committee, tells KNIGHT RIDDER in an interview.

The impact of Y2K disruptions will vary from city to city, Bennett said. The wire's Robert Rankin: "He urged people to press local authorities most on preparing their emergency services."

-- a (a@a.a), July 14, 1999.

Taking all the "good" and "bad" news over the last week or two:

It looks like we're exactly on schedule for the mess Ed Yourdon and others have predicted.

But the full GAO report should be quite interesting.

-- Jon Johnson (, July 14, 1999.

Chicago:,1575,SAV- 9901010066,00.html

-- Linkmeister (, July 14, 1999.

Notable among the least-prepared cities was San Jose, capital of Silicon Valley, the global high-tech center, reports KNIGHT RIDDER.

Gag! !

Also home of Knight Ridders gold star newspapers... The San Jose Mercury News.

helium... so sorry youre at ground zero. Even more sorry Im not that far away. Our town's police cars will be Y2K compliant in time... they say.

*Major Sigh*

Hey, but... not to worry.

As a bellweather state well probably be the first one to declare a state of emergency before the rest of yall. Then we can crack the whip over all those Java programmers!


(Need another caffe latte! Spiked!)

-- Diane J. Squire (, July 14, 1999.

Washington, D.C.: idx.html

-- Linkmeister (, July 14, 1999.

I haven't seen this report yet but it matches the very limited info that I've been able to get from the geekvine. I'll be shoving the next WRP out the door shortly (I know, I know, it's way late.)

Here's the deal. The state of Maryland has been declaring itself done, as in DONE for a while now. One of the guys who attends WDC Y2K is recruiting 50 programmers, QAer's, tech writers, for a state of Maryland Y2K contract.

We have less than 6 months to go, they've been done for a while, he's promising employment for 6-9 months.

If they would just say that they're not done, might have problems, can't promise that they'll make Dec 31, 1999 and PLEASE take prudent measures to include: ... Whatever, 4 weeks, batteries, water, 1 year as the Mormons suggest, whatever.

But don't tell us that everything is fine when it's not.

It's OK to say that the work is progressing, report on milestones made but don't say that you'll slide the last brick into place on Dec 31, 1999 when you've missed every milestone to date.

Don't say that you're 98+% done when you're not. It only takes one misplaced instruction to produce completely incorrect results.

I've seen 6 month projects take 4 and 5 years. We all have. Even simple stuff. When will your homework be done? Will the car be ready by 4:30? Can we move in on Thursday? Is the basement clean yet? Did you finish your chores?

This time, we know the deadline and know that it won't be made.

I'm still hoping that I can keep working, the power will stay more or less on, that things don't get as bad as they easily could.

But I know that it could get very bad.

-- cory (, July 14, 1999.

Allay... allay... calm your fears people.

From the May 25 report Dallas didn't EXPECT to have some essential services ready until November or December - in other words they thought they had 6 to 7 months more of work.

Now - 7 WEEKS later - we hear that DALLAS IS READY NOW!!!

This is TERRIFIC news. All the other cities have to do is to make hefty contributions to GWB's campaign and get him to share the secrets of Dallas' success. Then all the other cities can finish in weeks instead of months. Don't worry.... be happy.

-- Linda (, July 14, 1999.

Thank God for Cory. Keep telling it like it is. The world needs to hear it from people with experience like yourself.

Unfortunately this IT project has moved well past SNAFU, and is Deeply into TARFU territory. I give it full FUBAR by Sep/Oct max.

Hang on baby, here it comes.

-- Gordon (, July 14, 1999.

Hey Linkmeister...Great articles, got anymore like them? I'm working on a package to send to my mom and those 2 are for sure going in it. Thanks.

-- Mother Hen (, July 14, 1999.

Maybe CPR can fill us in on Dallas's secret weapon. Heck, I always figured it was science fiction, but I've heard some rumors of projects that are using a "Time Machine", so maybe that explains it. :)

-- a (a@a.a), July 14, 1999.

Okay, now I'm totally confused. I was hoping that I was mistaken about the Dallas report. Turns out I'm not.

Fixed in seven weeks isn't plausible. There's something behind the scenes that I'm not even beginning to smell out.

-- Dog Gone (, July 14, 1999.

What could it possibly mean to say that a large city is ready? Any attempt at a definition, in order not to be uselessly nebulous, would require an incredibly detailed assessment of all activities over which each city has jurisdiction. Not feasible.

In any case, the notion that any large city has completely identified, remediated, and successfully tested everything within their jurisdiction is preposterous. I don't plan to trust the water, I'll take my chances with the stoplights. Garbage collection? Uh...

-- Flint (, July 14, 1999.


I guess we'll see the full report tomorrow, but I have to agree with you. There's no way to know for certain that a particular city is ready, given this particular problem. I'd settle for some definitive tests on water and sewer at this point.

-- Dog Gone (, July 14, 1999.

Flint, let's turn it around, here is what it will take to say a big city is not ready ............ no water or sewer service for two weeks or longer.

What do you suppose the potential for human suffering would be in this case?


-- Ray (, July 14, 1999.

We don't need no stinkin' water.

-- Mara Wayne (, July 14, 1999.


Without water or wastewater systems for two weeks, the city has become totally unliveable. Everyone would have to leave the affected area. Almost as bad is really serious problems with either or both. The potential for countless health problems is terrifying.

I don't really expect problems to this extent, but the probability I see for at least one city reaching such a point is uncomfortably high. And successfully flushing a mistake out of a large water supply system is neither trivial nor quick. You've identified one of my worst nightmares, because I see this as all too possible.

To me, the most important, basic preparation anyone can make is to have access to at least several weeks' worth of guaranteed uncontaminated water. You might always seek warmth visiting a neighbor with a fireplace. But your neighbor will be on the same water system. You *must* take your water supply seriously.

-- Flint (, July 14, 1999.

Well if there is one person I admire to get some real information it is Joel W. It is actually going to be broadcast on real audio from the senate web site. After over a year of reading his material I actually get to see what he looks like and talks like.

Fint calls it like a doomer and BD does his polly line. HHMMMMM interesting thread

By the way to all the REALLY smart polly types, please explian to me what you would do to supply a city with water in severe winter conditions. Pumper trucks and 5 gallon pails? Where do they get the water? Store water in apartments? HHHMMMMMM 4 people, gallon a day, one week, alot of wieght.

This is not even considering sewage failure. Then the folk have to be evacuated.

This has to be a lack of vision thingy.

-- Brian (, July 14, 1999.


You finally got it.

-- Brian (, July 14, 1999.

This was covered on our local ABC station tonight in Houston. They said El Paso and San Antonio were "struggling" and that Houston expected to be finished in October. Isn't that cutting it a LITTLE CLOSE????? :-O

-- Gayla (, July 14, 1999.

Last I heard, Phoenix was going to try to run the water works MANUALLY! (seventh largest and BOASTS "The Best Run City In The World")

-- K. Stevens (kstevens@It's ALL going away in, July 14, 1999.

Ok....I live in Dallas and if we are so prepared why did the Red Cross come to the Middle School where I teach and make plans for a shelter? Question #2. One of the teachers that I work with is a Y2K programer with TU Electric and they have stored a couple yrs worth of food in a place way out of Dallas...according to them she is quiting her job in Oct. and they are out of here.

I also noted that the speaker on the issue with the Senate was from Terrant Co....That should read Tarrant Co. and that is Ft. Worth...not Dallas. They don't even have their counties straight...LOL

-- Mary-n-Tx (, July 15, 1999.

That should have said that the teacher wife is a programer...sorry.

-- Mary (, July 15, 1999.

This report about Boston and Dallas is about as convincing as the Air Force "explanation" of the Roswell events in 1947. Ridiculous on the face of it.

Either the GAO has been sadly misinformed, or this is their way of letting people know the real situation without actually saying the actual words, i.e., by talking patent nonsense.

-- Tom Carey (, July 15, 1999.

The news drop from DATACAST (tm) on my pager this evening says that half of the largest cities in the country are NOT ready for rollover.
chuck, who WOULD be chasing his tail if he had one.

gotta find a farm,,,gotta find a farm,,,gotta....

-- Chuck, a night driver (, July 15, 1999.

No wonder Dallas IS Y2k "ready"

CPR lives there :-)

Y2K ready could mean as little as

We have hire enugh police to prevent rioting, bought extra water tankers, and we are able to hunker down in our command bunker.

-- justme (, July 15, 1999.

Now I get it! All this time, Flint has been building *credibility*!

The warning on water is unequivocal. Fortunately, for my guilt level, this has been the week of having the old well checked, ordering filters (for town and stream water), and planning how to divert the ground water that rises to flood our basement into a source of "spring" water. Also rainbarrels to catch the house and barn roof runoffs. (Guess which region of USA we're talking about?)

Also, our small water district is near several others for emergency supply. Odds of simultaneous breakdown?

Think the FEMA people have water distribution trucks waiting in regional stockpiling centers for deployment to cities? That ought to be part of most military units in the field.

OTOH, I just dug around in the woods yesterday and found they probably never put a drain field on the end of our septic tank. Merde! Got 100 yards to your neighbor's house?

-- jor-el (jor-el@krypton.uni), July 15, 1999.

Y2K Progress Revisited: That Darned Reality Just Keeps Intruding

-- Lane Core Jr. (, July 15, 1999.

from csy2k by Bob Doyle:

A classic case of y2k reporting showed up on my doorstep this morn.

The headline on page 2 of the Boston Globe business section reads:

Study: Boston one of two major US cities ready for Y2K First government survey of readiness finds that some municipalities won't be ready until Dec.

Wow, great news, right? The estimable Sen. Bennet declares that Boston and Dallas lead the way to y2k. Great news, right? Uh, wait a past the headline to this quote:

"Since electric companies, water treatment centers, and hospitals in Boston are privately owned, they were not included in the survey of the city."

Yup, the Hub is ready. Oh, maybe no electricity, no water, no hospitals, but we're ready! Now, just what sort of BS spewing, brain-dead organization rates a city for y2k compliance but leaves out ELECTRICITY AND WATER?!? Why, it's the Senate Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem.

"Hi, we're from the government, and we're hear to help you."

Sigh...another trip to Price Club, I guess. _major_US_cities_ready_for_Y2K+.shtml

Bob Doyle
xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxx

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, July 15, 1999.

Okay - so Dallas is among the leaders nationally (among large cities) - but still has _projects_ that can't be done until November. At least they tried to test them before they installed the computer: seems like what the FAA has done!

This from the "Dallas" reference above: < Mr. McFarland said he did not anticipate any problems with that project, because all of the computer programs have been tested and many have been certified as being Y2K ready.

"We've tested the applications and the operating systems," Mr. McFarland said. "All we have to do is put the new mainframe in and bingo, it's ready to go. >>

-- Robert A Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, July 15, 1999.

If the employees aren't prepared (food, water, emotional ,etc.) these reports are as useless now as they've been from the beginning. Hungry people with family/health concerns don't remediated code well or even show up for work.

I've never seen contingency plans that include the preparation of employees to the levels spoken about on the forum who really makeup the corporations that we depend on.


How do you pay for gas to could to work if the payment system is non-functional? More people live miles and miles from work. Bicycle travel in Detroit is not recommended in winter.

Diabetics, drug dependent, contact lense wearers (lots don't have spare glasses). Do they have their supplies to sustain them?

Public transportation in Chicago, New York, the world's financial center). Will it be reliable? What are the alternative to get to work? How about worldwide?

No water? No problem getting ready for work, right?

Too many unanswered questions and areas not thought of...

Very little time???

Unfortunately, PR is a strong drug when administered to the very uninformed masses.

-- Paul C. (, July 15, 1999.

is the GAO a big joke?why is it that the pollyanna types are never put out that the GAO are such doomers?

-- zoobie (, July 15, 1999.

You get the prize zoobie, you figured it out. Newest info the GAO runs on is at LEAST three months behind. Most is older.

By their idea of 'fresh' information, they will still be worrying about the 1/1/2000 rollover date - in April and May of next year!

Yes, they are a bunch of clowns.

Hey, where's my attack dog? WC, where are you?

-- Paul Davis (, July 16, 1999. yk_cities_3.html


Nine cities -- New York; Houston; Philadelphia; San Diego; San Jose, California; Indianapolis, Indiana; Jacksonville, Florida; Memphis, Tennessee; and Milwaukee -- said they expected to complete preparations by Sept. 30.

The remaining 10 -- Los Angeles; Chicago; Phoenix; San Antonio, Texas; Detroit; San Francisco; Baltimore; Columbus, Ohio; El Paso, Texas; and Washington -- said they expected to be ready by Dec. 31.

Joel Willemssen, head of a GAO arm that tracks information systems, voiced concern about the laggards. He made his comments in a letter released at a hearing of the Special Committee on Y2K issues.

``Completing Y2K activities in the last months of the year increases the risk that key services will not be Y2K-ready in time for 2000 because there will not be enough time to deal with unanticipated complications,'' Willemssen said.

``Given the amount of Y2K work remaining to be done in the last months of the year, contingency plans are critical to ensure that cities will continue to provide key services through the year 2000 date change,'' he added.

The Senate panel displayed a chart showing that only 43 percent of the 21 cities' key systems were said by the cities themselves to be ready as of July for the date change.

The GAO carried out the study by interviewing city officials by telephone from June 28 to July 9.


-- Linkmeister (, July 16, 1999.

Kev.... er... uh... Linkmeister, you're the best! :-)

-- Gayla (, July 16, 1999.

"The GAO carried out the study by interviewing city officials by telephone from June 28 to July 9." Was that 1999, Paul? According to my calendar, that qualifies as current.

Willemssen is one of the good guys. Tough. Honest. Knowledgeable about both IT and Y2K. Working for U.S. citizens, not for the pols. Believe it or not as you like, but it's true.

-- BigDog (, July 16, 1999.

The article about the GAO report and cities is also at this link: 19990715&qt=readiness&sv=IS&lk=noframes&col=NX&kt=A&ak=news1486

-- Linkmeister (, July 17, 1999.

Some info about Kansas City:

[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only],business/3773b1c7.716,.h tml


Several cities will cut Y2K repairs close


Date: 07/16/99 22:15

Nearly half of the nation's 21 largest cities won't complete work on their Y2K computer repairs until the final three months of the year, according to a a congressional report released this week.

Two cities, Dallas and Boston, have finished work to ensure that their computers will continue to function on Jan. 1, 2000. Nine others expect to be fully ready by Sept. 30, and 10 cities say they will be ready between Oct. 1 and the end of the year.

Kansas City is roughly 80 percent complete. Although not included in the survey by the General Accounting Office, Y2K coordinators in Kansas City say they will be ready by Oct. 1, at a cost of $17.5 million.

But Don Eatherton, the city's Y2K coordinator, concedes that not all departments will meet that target date.

Work at Kansas City International Airport won't be complete until December. It's the same story at the Public Works Department, where the greatest challenge is fixing 231 traffic signals with bad software or clocks. Plan B calls for all signals to default to four- way flashing red, or for four-way stop signs to be rolled out at main intersections.

The city also reports that work at Metropolitan Ambulance Services Trust won't be complete until Nov. 1. Of the 15 critical areas to fix, none have been completed, the city reports at its Web site --

But Y2K work is well under way at MAST, says Associate Director Jim Jones. The ambulance service is awaiting software upgrades to its billing and collection systems before it can be certified as Y2K- compliant, he said. The upgrades are expected in September.

Still on the Kansas City to-do list: securing backup generators to power KCI for up to four months; developing new software for animal licenses; completing wiring and testing of emergency police fuel pumps; continuing to monitor emergency preparedness, bioterrorism and communicable-disease responses; contingency plans; and reconstructing the Mayor's Christmas Tree database for charitable giving.

Nationally, federal agencies are generally thought to be in good shape, but Y2K watchers in Washington are more concerned about the efforts being made by state and local governments.

Kansas, Missouri and 44 other states entered fiscal year 2000 on July 1 without big problems. Kansas City, too, experienced few problems when it faced the 2000 fiscal year on May 1.

The GAO report noted that although most cities won't be totally prepared until later in the year, many have made substantial progress. El Paso, Texas, and Baltimore are the only cities expecting December completion dates.

Cities saying they will be Y2K-ready by Sept. 30 are New York; Houston; Philadelphia; San Diego; San Jose, Calif.; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Fla.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Milwaukee.

Those that will finish work in the final three months of the year are Los Angeles; Chicago; Phoenix; San Antonio; Detroit; San Francisco; Baltimore; Columbus, Ohio; El Paso; and Washington, D.C.

Kansas City's mission-critical contingency plans will be worked on right up until Dec. 31.

"Anyone who stops working on it and says they're done is a fool," said Eatherton.


-- Linkmeister (, July 17, 1999.

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