Speach from Senator Dodd in Connecticut 4/Oct.

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Interesting speach. I would imagine Sen Dodd being a (D) walks a finer line that Bennett. Still this is pretty alarming from him.

 Senate Y2K Committee


Good morning. I am delighted to be here today. Thank you General Gay for your introduction and invitation and let me just extend my thanks to you and your team, to Rock Regan, Peter Sullivan, Steve Casey, Jeffrey Bean from FEMA, and the state commissioners who have taken the time to be here today.

I would also like to say thank you and congratulations on a job well done to the folks here at the roundtables from the various public service sectors who are here for the Q&A session. And to all of you participants I congratulate you as well for the work you have done to prepare our state for the Year 2000 technology problem, or the Y2K bug as it's more commonly known.

The people of Connecticut have long recognized the importance of maintaining and promoting a vibrant economy, which in turn lets us lead productive and rewarding lives. Connecticut has a proud history as the home to inventors like Charles Goodyear, Elias Howe, and Eli Whitney.

Connecticut led the way during the industrial revolution, beginning with Whitney?s introduction of mass production and the use of interchangeable parts. We had the first industrial school and the first factory town too. Inventions like sewing machines, submarines, and helicopters all originated in Connecticut, as did some more mundane, yet nevertheless extremely useful and enjoyable items like the corkscrew, lollipops and the frisbee.

Connecticut is now a leader in the technological revolution. We are home to nearly 9,000 technology companies, and we have the highest percentage of people-- 17 percent-- employed in technology jobs. The software industry is the fastest growing technology industry in our state. Technology-based manufacturing is thriving in our state and we continue to lead the way in aerospace.

Technology has profoundly and unalterably changed our world-- in ways no one could have predicted even a few short years ago. From the smallest towns to the largest cities, from exporters to engineers, from fishermen to financiers, almost all of us rely daily upon unseen technology to keep our lives running smoothly and safely.

How odd that the Y2K bug-- which seemed like a curiosity among a few computer scientists just a few years ago-- has since become a critical issue in so many corporate boardrooms, town halls, and even at a lot of kitchen tables. But for want of memory space when the first computers were invented forty some odd years ago, we wouldn't be here wondering whether the world we wake up to January first will function as it did the day before.

Today there are only 88 days left until the new millennium. And there?s no way to change that deadline, though there are some who have, no kidding, tried. Though well intentioned, a bill was actually introduced in Congress to designate, and I quote, Monday, January 3, 2000, as the day for the observance of the New Year's Day holiday in that New Year. Well, as Connecticut's own P.T. Barnum would have said, There's a sucker born every minute. At least in Congress.

This misguided effort reminds us that the date isn't the problem; the technology is. We all at some point have wished we could find more time in our busy lives, somehow add an extra day in the week to catch our breath. But that's not something we can achieve either through legislation, town ordinance, or otherwise. We cannot legislate away the millennium, although legislation can help us better prepare for it . We cannot move the deadline, although many in the public and private sectors are working diligently to meet it.

What I would like to do today is spend a few moments sharing with you my sense of where we stand in efforts to remedy the Y2K bug and where we as public servants need to focus our attention and energies in these last few weeks before the new millennium.

Senator Robert Bennett of Utah and I, as Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Senate Y2K Committee, did this in detail in our recently released second report. Unfortunately I wasn't able to bring enough copies for everyone, but it is available through the Committee's website, W-W-W-dot-senate-dot-gov-backslash-tilde [~]-Y2K, or you can call my office and we'll be happy to send a copy.

We have spent the last year and a half holding over 30 hearings, reading thousands of pages of testimony and reports, and talking with over 150 witnesses. Among those witnesses there have been several from Connecticut including West Hartford Councilor Jim O' Brien and Wethersfield?s Police Chief, John Karangekis, who gave us some very valuable insights into the challenges facing Connecticut's towns and cities as a result of the Y2K bug. We also heard from U-Conn?s Paul Kobulnicky about the impact on higher education.

And later this week I will have the chance to learn even more about Connecticut's preparations as General Gay has graciously agreed to provide testimony to the Committee for our Emergency Preparedness hearing.

I am looking forward to General Gay's testimony because from what I have seen so far, the state has done yeoman's work to prepare for Y2K. Governor Rowland, Lieutenant Governor Rell, General Gay, Roc Regan, and Peter Sullivan are all to be commended. Ninety-six percent of the state's most important systems have been made Y2K compliant. Programs such as unemployment insurance, worker's comp, and aid to schools. And departments with direct responsibility for ensuring public health and safety. Ninety-five percent of all the state's testing has been completed. And the state's work continues with planning underway for a transition period of December 28th to January 4th.

Unfortunately, from a nationwide perspective, the outlook is not as good. There is wide variation in the Y2K readiness of the nation?s 50 states, more than 3,000 counties and 87,000 localities. Taken together, these entities administer a larger information technology budget and more personnel than the entire federal government. Yet 14 states have reported that the date for completing the contingency plans were in October or later.

As each one of you can attest, local governments are on the front lines. Whenever any disruption in service occurs water shortages, hurricanes, snowstorms you are the first people citizens turn to for information and remediation, to keep their lives running smoothly and safely.

And let me just emphasize the importance of public safety here. This New Year?s, our police officers, fire fighters, and emergency medical services will have to contend not only with the usual surge of problems related to New Year's such as the possibility of icy roads and, regrettably, drunken drivers, but also with the vulnerability of our 911 systems.

At issue are the Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) which receive 911 calls. While people in distress will be able to reach their local police or fire department, response times could be slowed as a result of Y2K failures. No national organization oversees PSAPs and as such little information exists about their overall Y2K-readiness.

And another aspect of the public safety issue is the ability of our health care system to respond to people in distress. I am proud to say that Connecticut's 31 hospitals have led the nation in preparing for Y2K, having started work on the issue in 1997. Unfortunately, the national outlook for health care, the largest of all U-S industries, is not something to brag about.

My concerns fall across the board. Rural and inner city hospitals lack the resources to make the same investments and improvements as larger, better endowed hospitals do. There are 50 thousand doctor's offices nationwide, each with diagnostic equipment, therapy devices, and record keeping systems which are vulnerable to the Y2K bug. Yet a very substantial percentage-- maybe even a majority-- have failed to fully remediate. As for the nation?s 16 thousand nursing homes, which serve some of the most critically ill patients, no public survey or study seems to have been done to assess their vulnerability.

For those in health care who have not yet prepared, the focus must now be on contingency planning. Indeed, that should be the case in every industry and government sector. We are into the home stretch and there?s little time left to fix and test systems. And if you haven't started yet, you won't make it unless you have a solid plan in place which addresses the disruptions you may encounter.

General Gay, as I have mentioned, has done an outstanding job on this front, but he cannot do it alone. I know the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is represented here today, has helped and I want to say how much I appreciate the national leadership FEMA has shown in readying our hometowns.

But as much as FEMA can play a role, the real actors here are you, the leaders of Connecticut's 169 cities and towns. You each have your own unique Y2K needs. We do not expect Y2K to cause widespread disruptions-- in fact, an offshore bookmaker says its ten times more likely that aliens will land than the end of the world [odds of 100K to 1 for aliens, 1 million to 1 for Armageddon]. Nonetheless, you should be prepared for it, just as you would be to handle other events, alien landings not withstanding.

But I recognize of course that time is short and resources are limited. As I already said, not everyone will make it. That is why Senator Bennett and I passed legislation two weeks ago in the Senate which would provide $100 million in funding? for grants and loans of up to $1 million-- to cities and counties that have emergency funding needs after January first related to Y2K-caused health and safety emergencies. We are optimistic that this contingency fund will be approved in the next few weeks by the House and signed into law by the President.

Assistance is already available from other resources as well. In addition to today's workshop, I understand the state has offered each city and town the opportunity to post updates on their Y2K efforts on the state?s Y2K website. Here is an excellent chance to continue today's dialogue, sharing information and ideas with your colleagues because it is a lack of information in the public domain is what breeds the insecurities we have about Y2K and feeds the public?s fears.

We all have a responsibility, from elected officials to community activists to ordinary citizens. We must be willing in the government and in industry to be up-front about what we're up against. We must be willing as members of our community and as individuals to ask questions and demand answers about how the Y2K problem is being addressed in our own lives.

If you have not already shared with your community your plans to address any Y2K disruptions, I urge you to do so. The only way we can dispel the myths about Y2K the doomsday scenarios perpetrated by those who wish to exploit people's fears is to do our best to inform the public.

The state, as I have said, is ready to help you spread the word. And there are many other resources you can call on-- my office, the national associations which represent you, the Red Cross, and your local newspaper to name a few.

Stamford, for example, launched a public information campaign in conjunction with the Red Cross and the Stamford Advocate, distributing it through the paper as well as in schools and other public venues.

One very important resource I cannot neglect to mention is the President's Council on Y2K Conversion. Led by John Koskinen, a very able man who was at one time Senator Ribicoff's Administrative Assistant, the Y2K Council has targeted our local communities with their Community Conversations program, the first of which was held in Hartford earlier this year. In fact, 33 Connecticut towns and cities have hosted 40 Y2K Community Conversations.

There is a lot at stake here. Each one of you, with your presence here today, understands that. But in closing let me just say that despite the potential for some disruptions, there is no cause for undue alarm. We still have some work to do, but rest assured programs most vital to ensuring the health, safety, and well being of our citizens will be prepared.

Planes will not fall from the sky. Social security checks and veterans benefits will go out. Our national security systems will not fail. Here in the U-S progress has been and continues to be made.

And included in that progress must be our continuing effort to inform and educate the public about what steps we have taken to get ready so that they can in turn make informed decisions about their personal preparations.

I look forward to continuing to work together with you to enter the next century having done all that is in our power to ensure a continuing era of stability and prosperity. Thank you.

-- Brian (imager@home.com), October 06, 1999


This has to be one of the strangest statement I have read regarding Y2K, possibly an excuse for humor, Who knows.

"We do not expect Y2K to cause widespread disruptions-- in fact, an offshore bookmaker says its ten times more likely that aliens will land than the end of the world [odds of 100K to 1 for aliens, 1 million to 1 for Armageddon]. Nonetheless, you should be prepared for it, just as you would be to handle other events, alien landings not withstanding."

-- Brian (imager@home.com), October 06, 1999.

Brian - Do you suppose he was alluding to the likelihood of "martian law"? lol

-- marsh (armstrng@sisqtel.net), October 06, 1999.

Senator Dodd states: ".....I recognize of course that time is short and resources are limited. As I already said, not everyone will make it. That is why Senator Bennett and I passed legislation two weeks ago in the Senate which would provide $100 million in funding? [sic] for grants and loans of up to $1 million-- to cities and counties that have emergency funding needs after January first related to Y2K-caused health and safety emergencies. We are optimistic that this contingency fund will be approved in the next few weeks by the House and signed into law by the President."

Time has been short for a very long time. Legislation providing $100 million in grants and loans to cities and counties at this juncture is hardly a fraction of what will be needed if the President, the Administration and the Congress continue to absent themselves from roles of responsibility in this crisis. The President, the Administration, and the Congress need to do everything possible to minimize the harmful impacts of the Y2K and embedded systems crisis both here and abroad. That means taking action now before the rollover. That action needs to be aimed at lessening the number of Bhopal- and Chernobyl-like disasters that can be expected. That action needs to be aimed at lessening the number of other likely calamities as well. It also means taking action to make sure that there are no errors, human and computer-related, which could ~ heaven forbid ~ culminate in the launching of a nuclear warhead. (It is a somewhat hopeful sign that reportedly even Stratcom has expressed concern over the hair trigger alert status of nuclear weapons and the risks that that poses owing to Y2K. One hopes that Stratcom's concerns reach the President and others in a position to take our weapons off hair trigger alert and to convince other nuclear powers to do the same.)

Senator Dodd's and Senator Bennett's legislative initiative would make $100 million dollars available after the rollover. If 100 cities and counties received the maximum of a million dollars each, that would be as far as that money would reach.

Given current possible scenarios, the costs incurred for health and safety-related emergencies is apt to be more than the total combined amount of $100 million dollars in many metropolitan areas and heavily populated regions.

One nuclear power plant or processing facility incident could easily have a higher price tag than that. Such an calamity could lead to loss of life and result in long term health as well as environmental impacts and property destruction. Near term emergency response and medical costs would be small when compared with the long term costs.

One Bhopal-type incident near a populated area could carry an extremely high price tag as well.

Pipeline or refinery explosions could wreak similar havoc.

The contamination of water supplies would be extraordinarily costly as we have seen with the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd.

In light of the magnitude of the threats posed by Y2K and malfunctioning embedded systems, prevention is worth far more than a pound of cure. In this case, an ounce of prevention could be worth tons of cure.

Why haven't the necessary funds been put into minimizing the impacts that can be expected? Why have hardly any hearings focused to date on the highest hazard, highest risk systems, plants, sites, facilities, pipelines, refineries, and dams that could could have such devastating consequences if something went seriously wrong? Why haven't the assessments that have been done led to actions that would help ensure that such impacts would be avoided and minimized both here and abroad? I have tried to address many of these questions in my White Paper on Y2K and have argued that a proactive, crisis-oriented approach is called for now. Indeed, I have been calling for such an approach since the summer of 1998. (The White Paper, now five parts, can be found at http://gwu.edu/~y2k/keypeople/gordon. I have spelled out some major options that we have left. Part 6 will be added soon and will focus on denial and other mechanisms that have kept people from addressing these concerns, even after they acknowledge the reality of the crisis. Part 6 is entitled "De Nile Ain't Just a River in Egypt.") I use a metaphor in Parts 4 and 5 of the White Paper. It involves time bombs. I use this metaphor to try to bring home the deficiencies of current efforts nationally and globally. If you find yourself in a locked room with time bombs, where is the logic in putting resources (and miniscule resources at that) into emergency funding for when they go off? Wouldn't the most reasonable thing to do be to make sure that they don't go off in the first place? Why aren't these last few months being used for making sure that all the largest, most high risk "time bombs" that could do the most damage, do not go off? Now that some of our public officials are beginning to awaken to the fact that there will be emergencies, why not urge them to use these last few months to minimize our losses by focusing as much of our attention and resources on these last few days as possible?

I would only underscore here the need for one additional initiative. This initiative is essential whether or not the leaders of this nation persist in what is in effect a fix on failure approach regarding the most hazard risks confronting us. That initiative involves the urgent prepositioning of stocks of potassium iodide in all locations apt to be near or downwind of possible nuclear accidents. New York City; Washington, DC; Chicago; and Los Angeles are, of course, a few of the major metropolitan areas in the U.S. in such a position. I know that the matter of potassium iodide has come up in recent months and days at the White House. Action must be taken as soon as possible and before the rollover.

-- Paula Gordon (pgordon@erols.com), October 06, 1999.

I agree with Paula 100%. On the other hand why isn't Slick Willie standing before the nation giving this speech? If it were announced on TV for several days that the President was going to give a speech re Y2k, people would listen and at least prepare for the "storm". But he doesn't have the honesty gene to do it. It will be fix on failure under the emergency act that will cancell any presidential election and he will spend the next 6 years playing hero in the reconstruction of the world. Its going to be very bad, but sure would be easier to swallow if your gov't were supportive rather than subversive.


-- Taz (Taz@aol.com), October 06, 1999.

They are not being used to make sure that the bombs don't go off for (your chioce):

The owners of the bombs are all saying that they are either going to be totally compliant by 11/30/1999 or they can FOF in "about 3 days" so it isn't a big deal..


the Presidential goal is much more sinister.

Basically, either they are all now believing their press releases, and John can go home, or we've been toast for so long....

MY belief is that they believe their own press. Something about never ascribing to malice where simple incompetency could be the explanation.

Night Train

-- jes a tired ol footballer who wouldn't mind some truth for a change (Nighttr@in.lane), October 06, 1999.

BTW Paula, add Cleveland and Toledo to your "down-wind" list. With Perry and Besse, it won't matter WHICH way the wind blows.

Chuck who does NOT look good in glow

-- Chuck, a night driver (rienzoo@en.com), October 06, 1999.

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