Several states scrambling re Y2K deadline : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Wednesday October 6, 1999 3:16 p.m. EDT

Some States Pushing up Against the Deadline

WASHINGTON (AP) -- With less than three months to go, several states are pushing up against the Jan. 1 deadline in their scramble to ensure Y2K computer problems do not disrupt basic public services, officials said at a House hearing Wednesday.

The officials stressed that states generally have done a good job in either fixing computers or installing backup systems to prevent interruptions in such services as food stamps, Medicaid payments, unemployment benefits and child nutrition programs.

``But some state completion dates are so close to the turn of the century that the risk of disruption to their programs is substantially increased,'' said Joel Willemssen of the General Accounting Office, the investigative wing of Congress.

``Millions of American lives will be harshly disrupted if these vital programs fail,'' said Rep. Steve Horn, R-Calif., chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee that has followed the Y2K problem.

Many older computers read only the last two digits in a year and could malfunction if they mistake the year 2000, or ``00,'' as 1900.

Federal agencies have been given high ratings in addressing computer problems in 43 ``high impact'' programs. But states are responsible for administering 10 of those programs, not one of which is expected to be fully compliant until year's end.

Shirley Watkins of the Agriculture Department said Georgia will not have its Women, Infant and Children (WIC) nutrition program ready until December, and Maryland is to fix its child nutrition program in December. She said both states have backup systems and there will be no interruptions in service.

Edward Hugler of the Labor Department said the District of Columbia will not fix its unemployment insurance program until the end of the year. California still has some work left to do on its unemployment benefits program, he said.

The GAO, in a report issued Wednesday to the Senate Finance Committee, listed New Mexico, New Hampshire, North Carolina and the Virgin Islands as high risk in terms of having their Medicaid benefits systems ready.

Alabama, Alaska, Massachusetts, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were given high risk ratings for Medicaid information systems.

``There's a little bit of disappointment that many of the providers have not taken this serious enough,'' said John Callahan of the Health and Human Services Department.

Mike Benzen of the National Association of State Information Resource Executives, which represents 48 state chief information officers, said 43 member states accounting for more than 94 percent of the nation's population are now at least 75 percent compliant.

Among the states with lower than 70 percent of their mission critical systems compliant were Alabama, Hawaii and New Hampshire.

Benzen said it was hard to classify state performances because the situation is changing daily as states rush to complete work.

New Mexico, for example, which got a high-risk rating for its Medicaid system, said that while it had encountered problems in testing its computer upgrades, those problems had been resolved and they expected to get a low risk rating in the next review.

-- Old Git (, October 06, 1999


That should be right up there among the highly probable Y2k outcomes, to wit, the middle class sails through while the underclass, dependent on the government, suffers from the incompetence of their keepers.

-- Puddintame (, October 06, 1999.

* * * 19991006 Wednesday

No strata of any culture, in any society, anywhere, will emerge from Y2K consequences unscathed!

All that remains is counting the bodies!

Regards, Bob Mangus

* * *

-- Robert Mangus (, October 06, 1999.

Even as the federal government nears completion of its internal Y2K fixes, disturbing new reports indicate that locally administered federal programs such as Medicaid, Child Welfare and Unemployment Insurance face potential Y2K failures in several states, a panel of experts said at a congressional hearing today.

"The information in the last (White House Office of Management and Budget) report seems to overstate the readiness of states," General Accounting Office (GAO) Y2K expert Joel Willemssen said today. Willemssen testified at a joint hearing of the House Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology and the Science Committee's Subcommittee on Technology.

Of the 43 "high-impact" federal programs for which the OMB collects Y2K data, 10 are run by state governments. Several states have indicated that they will not complete Y2K fixes to some of those programs until December, if at all, according to Willemssen.

"Numerous states are not planning to be ready until the last quarter of 1999." Willemssen said, adding that even those estimates may be overly optimistic for some states.

Others at the hearing echoed Willemssen's ill tidings.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees six of the 10 state-run federal programs in question, has grave concerns about Y2K readiness levels in some states, HHS Chief Information Officer John Callahan said at the hearing.

HHS-administered programs in Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Mississippi, New Hampshire South Carolina and Washington, DC, were judged to be at high risk for Y2K failures because "both the remediation and testing of systems is not complete or behind schedule and there are underdeveloped or nonexistent contingency plans," Callahan said in written testimony.

Programs that those states have been slow to remediate include Child Welfare, Child Support Enforcement, Child Care, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Low Income Home Energy Assistance, Callahan said.

Willemssen urged the OMB to include information from federal agencies and outside auditors in its next federal government Y2K report, which is due out in late November or early December. Up until now, the OMB has been relying solely on self-reported data.

Reported by,

-- Sysman (, October 07, 1999.

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