Governor: Y2K secrecy was a mistake : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

An update to the Maine story posted yesterday. Link dated today <:)=

Gov. Angus King acknowledged Thursday that the state should have printed and made public a report about the findings of a $600,000 study into Maine's effort to avoid the Year 2000 computer problem.

At the same time, he said that he was not directly involved in the decision to order that the findings by PricewaterhouseCoopers, a consulting firm, not be put in writing. The study looked at how well Maine state government is preparing to deal with the Year 2000 problem, which might cause some computer systems to fail at the new year.

"I think it was an excess of caution" by officials who wanted to protect sensitive contingency plans for such safety-related agencies as the State Police and the Department of Corrections, King said under questioning from reporters at a news conference.

"There were parts of the report that, they thought, if it became public, would have compromised public safety," King said. "The problem was that that decision was too broad and covered too much."

Meanwhile, the Legislature's Joint Select Committee on the Year 2000 Computer Problem announced that it will convene a special meeting on the consulting study in mid-October. The committee was not directly notified about results of the examination into Maine's four-year, $18 million effort to eradicate the so-called millennium bug.

Representatives from the consulting company have been asked to outline what they told King's cabinet in an August closed-door meeting.

The Oct. 14 committee meeting also will address a Public Utilities Commission decision to issue an unusual blanket order related to the Year 2000 problem, said Sen. Marge Kilkelly, D-Wiscasset, in a voice-mail message. That order allowed all of Maine's utility companies to file their Year 2000 contingency plans, in their entirety, as secret.

PUC Chairman Tom Welch is scheduled to represent commissioners at the meeting, which will be held from 9 a.m. to noon in Room 436 of the State House.

Kilkelly could not be reached Thursday for further comment.

Another Y2K committee member, Sen. Phil Harriman, R-Yarmouth, said he is glad King has acknowledged that the state made a mistake in ordering the spoken-only report and now appears ready to provide more information to legislators and the public.

"If legislators have to go forward wondering what the administration is not telling them, that doesn't bode well for relationships during the rest of the session," said Harriman, who is the ranking minority member of both the Y2K and Appropriations committees. If the administration provides more information, the incident can be put behind everyone, he said.

Janet Waldron, King's finance commissioner, said she was responsible for the decision not to formalize the consultant's findings in a written report. "The governor was not involved in the decision. I can testify to that," Waldron said.

"Every once in a while we make mistakes," King said. "This was one of them."

King said the consulting firm submitted individual written reports to the affected state agencies. He said those reports are public now and said they have been for some time.

These documents appear to be technical support materials for the oral presentations given to individual departments, rather than formal consulting reports with broad conclusions and summations of findings, according to interviews with those familiar with the written documents.

The Press Herald has requested those documents.

King said those reports should have been combined into an umbrella report covering all of state government, so the all-inclusive report could have been released.

"A perception was created that we were hiding something," King said. "That's just not true."

King implied, though, that withholding some of the information was legitimate for safety reasons.

King said the consultant was hired to work with individual agencies, not to prepare an overall report covering all of state government. In hindsight, he said, the state should have contracted for just such a general written report, to pull together the agency reports and make them available in one document.

"This was a decision that I'm not comfortable with," King said. "When you delegate decision-making authority, sometimes people are going to make different decisions than you would."

Yesterday's story

-- Sysman (, October 01, 1999


What is it... T minus 92 and counting?

"Every once in a while we make mistakes," King said. "This was one of them." ... "A perception was created that we were hiding something," King said. "That's just not true."

Wonder how many organizations, dot govs (((Koskinen))) and dot mils this can be said of?

Truth... or consequences?


-- Diane J. Squire (, October 01, 1999.

It is t - 91 and counting. But there really are only 27 workdays left 'till Thanksgiving...after that, most workers will spend more time and effort on their personal contingency plans, if they are smart. Screw the personal preps!

-- K. Stevens (kstevens@ It's ALL going away in, October 01, 1999.

And now Maine is telling citizens to prepare--see post above...

-- Mara Wayne (, October 01, 1999.

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