Contingency plan = Y2K ready, says Montgomery County : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

From the Montgomery County, Maryland, Gazette, 10/15/1999: Don't forget to read the fine print. That is the lesson County Council members say they learned this week in dealing with the Duncan administration's reports about the status of its $47 million Y2K program. Last week, when Chief Administrative Officer Bruce F. Romer pronounced all but three of 300-plus county computer systems "Y2K ready," council members say they assumed he meant the computers had been fixed and certified as Y2K compliant. Not so, says administration spokesman David Weaver. He directed attention to the fine print in Romer's report. After an asterisk at the bottom of a page, the report states: "Readiness means service delivery capability from systems remediation, business continuity arrangements or contingency plans." (snip) Leggett (D-At large) of Burtonsville also questioned whether Romer had failed to give the council accurate information on other systems. The definition of Y2K ready "is something that should not be left to the fine print," Leggett said Thursday. "It should be apparent and clear on its face. It should not be some concocted definition that takes five Philadelphia lawyers to understand." Weaver called Leggett's letter "irresponsible" for what he said was "implying that our public safety systems are not ready." I will try a hot link..... to

OK, we all understand that Montgomery County, Maryland, has done an excellent job on the whole Y2K issue, having started early, taken the whole thing seriously, and actually done some public testing, even in 1998. I think we owe Douglas Duncan and Donald Evans and the others a real "thank you" for this. Yet here they are defining a system as Y2K ready if they have what appears to be a manual workaround ("contingency plan") in place. So, is my car's engine "highway ready" so long as I have a contingency plan if the engine doesn't work: "get out and walk!"????? And, if Montgomery County, the acknowledged leader, is reduced to playing tricky word games in October, 1999, what does this suggest about the readiness of every other county, all of whom are behind Montgomery County? Am I missing something here? I would like to hear from anyone who is local around here.....

-- Joseph R. Whaley (, October 17, 1999


Your not missing anything, perhaps giving them to much credit.

Relying on civil servants to look after my best interest is something I am not taking any chances with. Most of them are just average u.s. citizens and that is not a compliment.

Pardon me for I am very sceptically and not local.

-- KnowThemToWell (, October 17, 1999.

When you try to address a problem without fully understanding the scope of the problem, you are apt to end up just addressing part of the problem. The efforts of Montgomery County, the District of Columbia, as well as those of the Council of Governments of the Washington Metropolitan Area, have approached Y2K as if the primary problems were problems associated with information systems and potential infrastructure disruptions. They have left out some other dimensions of the threats and challenges posed by Y2K and embedded systems.

Malfunctioning embedded systems could result in a wide range of different types of technological disasters. Such disasters would not have to occur in the immediate vicinity in order for them to have an impact. That is, they would not have to occur within a county or within the city limits for a county or city to be affected. For instance the Three Mile Island disaster, had it been more serious than it was, could have resulted in high level of radiation reaching the Washington Metropolitan area as well as affecting everything in between.

New York City has nearby nuclear power plants that have had problems without the added challenge of Y2K. New York is also in close proximity to chemical plants.

By posing one or two questions to mayors, city officials, city and county administrators, emergency management directors, FEMA regional directors, it is possible to find out pretty rapidly whether or not the possibility of Y2K-related technological disasters is even on the radar screens of such individuals.

Nothing was mentioned of nuclear, chemical, or other highest hazard problems in an exercise held by COG in Washington, DC in September or in a hearing on Y2K held in NYC that same month..

Who is looking into the Y2K "readiness" or "compliance" of the safety critical systems of these and other high hazard high risk sites, plants, facilities, pipelines, refineries, etc.? The head of the President's Council has publicly stated that he has definitely not assumed that responsibility. In additiona Federal regulatory agencies have not taken the action that they could and should take by law to make sure that imminent disasters are averted. Instead Federal agencies have engaged in some informational campaigns and provided some guidance. But for the most part, they are not intervening to ensure that everything is done to minimize the incidence of high hazard, high risk failures and disasters.

California leads the way as a state that has taken a proactive, crisis-oriented approach to addressing chemical industry threats. But little has been done by the Federal government to ensure that other states know about that approach. Guidance materials are referenced in a footnote on the press release of the October 7 press briefing conducted by the President's Council. (See and click on press releases.) Nothing of consequence has been done to help other states actually implement such an approach. Certainly no substantial resources have been devoted to the accomplishment of such purposess. And very little has been done to address the full range of high hazard, high risk areas of concern. Little attention and resources have been given to ensuring the functioning of water purification plants and waste disposal plants through the rollover and beyond.

Beginning on November 10 and ending November 23, a series of Y2K Action Summits will be held on five different dates (some evening programs and some daytime programs). These Action Summits with address a range of high hazard, high risk areas of concern. The Summits will be held at George Washington University in Washington, DC. In the meantime, between now and November 10, I hope that the Federal government will see fit to sponsor its own sets of action summits.

By the way, anyone or any organization interested in becoming of sponsor of these summits, please write me at my e-mail address below. The e-mail address is also at my website.

Look for fuller details on the GW series of Y2K Action Summits by or around November 1 on the Announcement page of the following website: Also see the White Paper on the Y2K and Embedded Systems Crisis that can be found at that same website. Part 1 focuses on the different ways that Y2K has been defined. Part 2 deals with embedded systems. Part 3 outlines the kind of task-oriented, crisis-oriented efforts that should be the hallmark of governmental Y2K efforts at all levels of government. Part 4 provides an explanation of why Federal efforts to address Y2K have been so badly bungled to date. Part 5 describes a few scenarios, best and worst case, that could unfold in the next few weeks before the rollover. Part 6 will be posted soon and will address some of the psychological factors that have made it all the more difficult to address Y2K and the embedded systems crisis. One of these factors is, of course, denial. Part 6 will also address flaws in individual and group decisionmaking processes, including the abeyance of common sense. These factors have created major barriers to addressing the threats and challenges posed by the Y2K and embedded systems crisis as effectively as possible.

-- Paula Gordon (, October 17, 1999.

Oh Paula,

...abeyance of Common Sense. ROTFLMAO!

Paula, your wasting your breath...Chemical Plants...Let 'em BLOW! At least the horizon in places like Houston, and Bayway, N.J. will have interesting pyrotechnics.

Living in NYC as a very young child, I saw a ship loaded with detonator chord blow up...10 miles away it looked and sounded like an earthquake. Was there when the Bayway refinery blew up, although there was some suspicion that terrorists did it. And, lastly, Propane Tank Farms are a hoot!!

Common Sense is about to return witn a BANG!!! LOL!

-- K. Stevens (kstevens@ It's ALL going away in, October 17, 1999.

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