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FBI, D.C. COPS CANCEL VACATIONS FOR Y2K 650 Agents, 3,600 Officers Will Be On Duty for New Year's

July 16, 1999 By James Gordon Meek

WASHINGTON (APBNews.com) -- Fears of a "domino effect" should Y2K problems prove worse than expected have prompted the FBI and city police to cancel leaves in the capital on the eve of the millennium. The FBI has barred vacations for agents from Dec. 27 to Jan. 7, and the Washington Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has frozen leaves from Dec. 26 to Jan. 15. In spite of the government's cautious optimism over Y2K, the move reflects concern over what could happen when computer clocks around the globe roll over to read "00," and older units read the date as 1900, causing shutdowns.

Bureau prepares for 'domino effect'

FBI headquarters had previously issued a memo alerting field offices that leave might be canceled "in anticipation of potential issues concerning Y2K preparations," but no orders had been given. Susan Lloyd, spokeswoman for the Washington squad, told APBNews.com that Assistant Director James Carter decided to cancel leave for 650 Washington-based agents, even though he is not anticipating a Y2K crisis in Washington. "If any have Y2K problems, it could be a domino effect," Lloyd said, saying extra caution is needed because the nation's capital is home to dozens of federal agencies.

Keeping order in the capital

MPD spokesman Sgt. Joe Gentile said his department canceled leave partly because of possible Y2K problems, but primarily to maintain order at millennium celebrations around the city. Gentile said in all probability officers from the 3,600-person force will work 12-hour shifts, much as they did during the recent NATO Summit here. The FBI's Washington field office is the second largest in the bureau, with the third-largest number of agents assigned to a regional post.

Agents may work security detail

Lloyd said in the event of an emergency it is doubtful that agents would deal with physical security of federal buildings or officials, but they would stick to the bureau's investigative mission. "Unless there's an extremely compelling situation, I don't see [bureau agents] out on the streets," she said. A representative at FBI headquarters said they were not aware of any other field offices that had individually decided to cancel leave for agents. A statement said the bureau is "taking all prudent steps to avoid potential effects of the Y2K issue. "Additionally, as a part of the responsibility to ensure our ability to meet the demands of our mission, we have also reminded our employees of their ongoing responsibilities to remain available."

Y2K still a matter for debate

Whether the infamous Y2K bug will cause minor inconvenience or major catastrophe is still a matter of debate. The danger, say those warning of New Year's chaos, is that computer systems that don't recognize the year "00" in their internal calendars as 2000 may collapse, possibly crippling vital utilities like water and electricity. Many advise citizens to stock up on supplies of water and food. Some doomsayers have even bought generators and firearms, anticipating apocalyptic conditions at the stroke of midnight. Jack Gribben, spokesman for the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, told APBNews.com, "There are people who fear that. Based on the information we have, we are not of that view." The White House estimates 93 percent of mission-critical computer systems in the country are Y2K-compliant. Gribben said many organizations are expecting their employees to work or be on call during the Y2K rollover.

Why take chances?

EdgeMark Systems is an information technology consulting firm in Silver Spring, Md., that handles computer security for clients like the Defense Department. Company chairman Raymond Tuchman said his employees will be on call during the date rollover, but he is reasonably confident things won't go terribly wrong with critical services on Jan. 1, 2000. "I think the FBI is being prudent, and why take chances?" he said. "It's a one-time event in the history of the world, and it's never going to happen again."

-- jjbeck (jjbeck@recycler.com), July 27, 1999


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPcap/1999-07/27/036r-072799-idx. html

**** For Educational Purposes Only ***********

Prisons Will Greet the New Year on Guard

By Stephen Barr

Tuesday, July 27, 1999; Page A17

John A. Koskinen, the president's chief adviser on Year 2000 computer issues, calls it "winnowing the risks." In other words, trying to figure out where the so-called Y2K bug will bite on Jan. 1.

A White House working group, for example, has determined that prisons and jails built from 1985 to 1995 are vulnerable to Y2K glitches, since they rely on computers to help monitor and control inmates. Jails constructed before 1985 are mostly free of automated devices, and those built after 1995 use updated technology that reduces Y2K risks, officials said.

William J. Taylor, a Y2K specialist at the American Correctional Association, said the group is especially interested in 144 jails built during that decade--each with more than 200 inmates--that have not responded to surveys asking about their Y2K readiness. They may have resolved possible computer problems, Taylor said, but no one really knows.

But Taylor said manual overrides would ensure that even automated prison doors do not swing open Jan. 1. "They won't open," he said at a news conference last week. The inmates "won't run out."

Jails that ignore Y2K, however, could end up with perimeter cameras and monitors going blank. Without remote cameras, jails would require more guards to watch the fences and walls.

Taylor predicted that at most prisons "all staffs will be on duty for two weeks before and two weeks after" New Year's Day. Just in case.

Year 2000 Center: Open Round-the-Clock Correctional officers won't be working alone at year's end. The White House plans to set up a $40 million Year 2000 Information Coordination Center that will collect data from private-sector organizations, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the departments of Defense and State and other agencies.

The center's start-up staff recently moved into offices near the White House and it plans to operate round-the-clock with about 250 staff members, many loaned by federal agencies, during the date transition. Retired Army Lt. Gen. Peter Kind will head the center.

The Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem has scheduled a hearing Thursday to learn about the center and whether it could serve as a model for how to combat other high-tech threats, such as "cyberterrorism" and "information warfare."

FAA Declares Its Fixes Made The Federal Aviation Administration, which got off to a late start on Y2K, has finished its repairs and upgrades. A year ago, some congressional critics questioned whether the FAA could even finish before Jan. 1.

But after more than three years of effort involving 1,100 FAA technicians, the agency said all of the computer systems requiring Y2K repairs have been successfully installed at air traffic control towers and other facilities across the country.

Science Applications International Corp. of Vienna, an outside contractor, checked FAA records to verify that the computer systems have indeed been fixed. The Transportation Department inspector general also examined a sample set of systems and approved the FAA's work, the FAA said.

Big Headaches for a Corporate Conglomerate The FAA estimates it will spend about $340 million on its Y2K work in the 1997-2000 period. But one tobacco, beer and food conglomerate expects to spend even more.

Philip Morris Cos. Inc. told the Senate committee last week that with 220 factories in 50 countries, it probably will spend $550 million on Y2K repairs and compliance and an additional $150 million to replace certain systems and hardware.

Kevin Click, Philip Morris's director of corporate audits, estimates that contingency planning could cost an extra $85 million. While the expenses seem large, Click noted that the corporation brought in $74 billion in operating revenue last year from its major product lines.

Philip Morris expects that about 700 of its more than 6,000 most critical business partners will suffer Y2K breakdowns. Contingency plans call for stockpiling additional raw materials and finished goods to mitigate any disruptions to the corporate supply chain, Click said.

Name That Country The following passage was included in last week's Senate testimony from the State Department. The country in question was not identified. What's your guess?

"A June 1999 embassy assessment of one European country, which will be hosting many large-scale millennium events that will be attended by thousands of Americans, expressed skepticism about the country's telecommunications sector because of a lack of information. The assessment further noted that water and wastewater efforts were inconsistent, health care preparations were inadequate, but finance was in good shape."

) Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

-- helium (heliumavid@yahoo.com), July 27, 1999.

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