D.C. Falls Behind on Y2K Fix, GAO Says

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The District's late-starting year 2000 repair effort has fallen behind the tight schedule set to make sure city services do not fail on Jan. 1, a U.S. General Accounting Office official said yesterday.

The public works, personnel, employment services and procurement departments and the University of the District of Columbia have missed deadlines to make their computers Y2K-compliant, said Ronald L. Hess, assistant director of GAO's Governmentwide and Defense Information Systems Division. Several of these "priority one" departments and other D.C. agencies also are late in preparing manual backup plans that could be used if computer systems fail.

"Services are at risk," Hess said yesterday.

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Oversight subcommittee on the District, sent a letter Tuesday to Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) expressing his "serious concern" about the delays.

"While I am cognizant of the enormous challenge undertaken by the current D.C. Y2K team . . . and while I am aware of the substantial progress which has been achieved in the past year under very difficult circumstances, I remain concerned," Davis wrote. "The District has no margin for such schedule slippage."

D.C. Chief Technology Officer Suzanne J. Peck, who received a copy of Davis's letter yesterday, said that the GAO's analysis is largely accurate but that it does not make clear that behind-schedule computer repairs are only a small portion of Y2K preparations that are underway. She said she is confident that the District will finish its work on critical city services by year's end.

"It was always expected we would be running hard to the finish," said Peck, who started the District's Y2K effort in June 1998, years after most other state and local governments began their repairs. "Well, every day is a hard run."

As of yesterday, Peck said, five computer repair efforts that were supposed to be completed at public works, personnel, employment services and UDC were less than 85 percent done. But because these five projects are the only ones among "hundreds" that are lagging, "I am on schedule," she said. Repairs at the city procurement agency are on track, she said.

The Y2K problem stems from the fact that millions of computers and the microchips in many electronic devices were programmed to recognize only the last two digits of a year, assuming that the first two would be 1 and 9.

On Jan. 1, 2000, unadjusted machines will understand the year "00" not as 2000 but as 1900, potentially causing them to shut down or stop working properly. The city, like other government agencies and private sector firms, is rewriting computer codes or replacing systems to ensure that welfare checks, police dispatching, traffic lights, water and sewer service, and hundreds of other operations are not disrupted.

Recognizing its late start on fixing Y2K problems, the District is also undertaking one of the largest contingency planning efforts of any major city. Peck said backup plans have been prepared for 81 of 96 service areas. The deadline for finishing these preliminary plans is tomorrow.

Davis, who will hold an oversight hearing next month on the District's Y2K program, asked Williams in his letter to prepare a report for Congress on steps the city will take to make sure the computer repairs and other Y2K-related work are completed on time. A Williams spokesman said that the delays are "unacceptable" and that Norman Dong, the interim city administrator, has been asked to review the effort.


-- Dog Gone (layinglow@rollover.now), August 13, 1999


DC will be in chaos in January. How much warning do we need?

-- Dog Gone (layinglow@rollover.now), August 13, 1999.

Rat's Nest LOL! Is the big party still on? The dumbell tolls for thee, DC.

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), August 13, 1999.

"D.C. falls behind"????

Don't you have to be even or ahead at some point in order to "fall behind"?

D.C. has been in last place since before the race began.

D.C. is like the guy who finishes last in the Olympic marathon race, straggling into the stadium at dusk, hours and hours after the winners have already received their medals, showered up, and caught a plane back to Kenya.

-- rick blaine (y2kazoo@hotmail.com), August 13, 1999.

I find it interesting that Washington DC is attracting so much negative media attention with regard to their y2k status. I am sure many other metropolitan areas are in similar or worse shape but we hear little with regard to their status.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), August 13, 1999.

Ray -

DeeCee having problems means that a whole mess o' Feds may have problems, thus all the attention it's getting. Nation's capital equals national coverage.

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), August 13, 1999.

How can that be, the governments "next to last" report just said everything is beautiful:

From year2000.com ---

****** Next-to-last Y2K report: nation almost ready; But some services, schools behind The Cincinnati Enquirer

The White House issued its most optimistic predictions ever Thursday for the year 2000 technology problem: The lights won't go out, water lines won't run dry, ATM machines will dispense cash and planes won't fall from the sky.

But in its next-to-last status report on the nation's Y2K readiness, the Clinton administration also warned that many schools, local governments, small hospitals and small businesses are making inadequate preparations, taking a wait-and-see attitude toward computer failures.

"There is now increasing confidence, and people should be comfortable that the basic infrastructure of the country will hold," said John Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion.

In a letter to Cabinet officials Thursday, Mr. Clinton urged continued vigilance and said he was "confident that we will be able to oversee a successful transition to the new millennium."

The Year 2000 problem - also called Y2K and the millennium bug - occurs because some computer programs, especially older ones, might fail when the date changes to 2000. Because the programs were written to recognize only the last two digits of a year, such programs could read the digits "00" as 1900 instead of 2000.

With less than 150 days left before the new year, Mr. Koskinen predicted that Americans will start to focus any Y2K worries closer to home.

"It's comforting to know we're not going to have a national catastrophe in any of these major areas, but ultimately tell me about my local government, my power company and my water company." *****

These stories outnumber the DC story by at least 10 to 1.

Makes even me wonder if Y2K is'nt all a joke ---- but I did buy $40.00 worth of appelsause (canned 90520) and juices yesterday.

-- Jon Johnson (narnia4@usa.net), August 13, 1999.

There may be a special place in hell for Mr. Koskinen.

-- Dog Gone (layinglow@rollover.now), August 13, 1999.

I've been buying applesauce in the glass jars. It's a treat, I add extra cinamon, sugar.

But back to the thread. Yes, DeeCee is falling behind but at least the current mayor isn't dropping his pants on TV after sucking a crack pipe. Things can improve.

I'm on vacation (a big two days) in Ocean City, Maryland. Will drive up to Rehoboth tomorrow to catch a movie.

I'll fix up WRP128 next week, I've been promised an update from the guy who's trying to organize his neighborhood of 45 townhouses.

Take care all. The days are slipping away.

-- cory (kiyoinc@ibm.XOUT.net), August 13, 1999.

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