Need we look to much further for the truth? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Does this help to grasp the picture of what we have not been hearing?

Opening Statement

Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), Chairman Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem Hearing on the risks of Y2K on the nation's power grid

Good morning, and welcome to the inaugural hearing of the Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem. This special committee was formed pursuant to Senate Resolution 208, introduced by the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate on April 2, 1998 and was passed unanimously by the Senate. The jurisdiction of the special committee extends beyond the public sector into the private sector.

As a result, this Committee will be hearing from the utility industry, specifically gas and electric utilities, today. Subsequent hearings will look into the year 2000 preparedness of health services, telecommunications, financial services, transportation, general government services, and general business. It will also look into the legal liability of firms who become the subject of court suits due to year 2000 technology problems.

I have some disturbing news to report this moring. In order to prepare for today's hearing, I directed Committee staff to conduct a survey. The survey was of modest proportions including ten of the largest electric, oil, and gas utility firms in the U.S. I wanted to know what the status of their Y2K preparedness is. While the survey is not statistically representative of the entire industry, it does include geographically dispersed firms engaged in all aspects of power ration, and gas and electricity transmission and distribution.

I had anticipated that I would be able to provide a positive report on the Y2K status of these public utilities. Instead, based on the results of this survey, I am genuinely concerned about the very real prospects of power shortages as a consequence of the millennial date change.

Let me share a few of the survey findings:

Only 20 percent of the firms surveyed had completed an assessment of their automated systems. One firm did not even know how many lines of computer code it had. Experts have testified before my banking subcommittee that a major firm that has not already completed its assessment cannot hope to become Y2K compliant by January 1, 2000.

None of the utilities surveyed was assured after making inquiries that their suppliers, venders, and servicers would be Y2K compliant. Utilities are highly dependent on servicers, suppliers, and other upstream activities to transmit, and distribute gas and electricity. In fact, many power distribution companies are ultimately dependent on foreign oil imports.

None of the firms surveyed had completed contingency plans for Y2K related eventualities. Even though all of these firms are required by their regulators to maintain emergency response plans, none had completed a Y2K contingency plan. My concern is that they probably don't know what contingencies to prepare for.

The last question on our survey asked for recommendations. One respondent, after making several recommendations made the following profound statement: "Whatever actions are taken by Congress, they must be done quickly, during this session, or they will have no impact on the Y2K problem."

I am personally concerned that the Y2K problem is receiving so little public attention. I am concerned that when it does become a matter of general public concern it will be too late to bring public pressure to bear on the timely correction of the many Y2K problems that exist. My greatest fear is that when it does become a matter of general public concern, it will bring with it a measure of panic that will be detrimental to effective and efficient remediation of the problems which will present themselves.

For the private sector, I define the Y2K problem in much broader terms than what I see generally discussed and reported in the trade press which is where many of the Y2K problems are reported. The problem is more than a computer's ability to function on January 1, 2000. It includes not only computers, it includes embedded systems, such as process control units.

I read a story recently about a major oil company that tested one of its oil refineries. They found that the refinery had 90 separate systems that somehow used a microprocessor. Many of these were key systems. Of the 90 systems, they were able to come up with detailed documentation on 70. Of these 70, they determeined that twelve had date dependent embedded chips. Of the 12, four failed a Y2K test and will have to be replaced. Had any of the four failed on January 1, 2000, they would either have completely shut down the plant or would have caused a high level safety hazard which would have caused other systems to shut it down.

What is really worrying the company's experts now is the other 20 systems. They don't know what functions the chips in these systems have and are leaning toward replacing them all. This happens to be a relatively modern plant.

On June 8th, U.S. News & World Report ran a story concerning a Midwestern electric generation facility that was taken off-line to test for Y2K compliance. When the test clock was rolled forward to January 1, 2000, a safety system mistakenly detected dangerous operating conditions and shut the generator down. After three days, they reran the test, only to have a different sector fail, shutting down the generators again.

Another area of the Y2K problem is interfaces. Interfaces sometimes exist between systems within a company, and sometimes exist between a servicer, supplier, vender, or customer. It is important that Y2K remediation corrections among these parties be compatible.

Infrastructure plays an important supporting role for almost any business. Utilities, for example, are dependent on transportation, telecommunications, water and sewer facilities; all of which are critical to continuous business operations.

Ripple effects are an important concern. If foreign oil production is not Y2K compliant, or if oil tankers' navigation and propulsion systems are not Y2K compliant, what effect will that have on our electric generation facilities that are dependent on petroleum products to generate power?

Government services are frequently taken for granted, but are an area of significant concern. I know of no Federal data bases or information systems that are not computerized. We rely heavily on government services for mail delivery, transportation, financial services, water and waste treatment facilities, just to name a few. If, for example, the Coast Guard ships operating in the vicinity of the Alyeska Pipeline are not Y2K compliant, we could find timely shipments of Alaskan oil jeopardized?

I find these categories useful in evaluating the breadth of the Year 2000 problem. I would encourage our witnesses to consider them as they make their presentations today.

-- Susan Barrett (sue59@bellsouth.netl), November 08, 1999


it's about time... just surveyed indeed... thank you for posting this... is there a link?

-- booann (keepthefaith@hold.on), November 08, 1999.

Thanks for the post Sue....

-- kevin (, November 08, 1999.


when was this meeting?

-- lou (, November 08, 1999.

Line one: . . ."inaugural hearing" ?? Is this old or what?

-- Becky (, November 08, 1999.


I believe this report is from January of this year, and all mentions of dates refer to 1998. More recent statements from the Senate Committee are much more positive in tone, if not in accuracy.

Let's keep our heads here,

-- William in Dallas (, November 08, 1999.

before the






JUNE 12, 1998

http:// 105_senate_hearings&docid=f:49393.wais

See Senate hearings list... hearings/

-- Diane J. Squire (, November 08, 1999.

Doesn't matter when the meeting took place. We know it could not have been prior to 1998 when the Senate Subcommittee was commissioned.

It the software systems consulting field, we've been saying since '96 that if large companies didn't get started by 1/1/97 they had no chance of completing even "mission critical" remediation in time.

Look back at the paragraph above:

"Only 20 percent of the firms surveyed had completed an assessment of their automated systems. One firm did not even know how many lines of computer code it had. Experts have testified before my banking subcommittee that a major firm that has not already completed its assessment cannot hope to become Y2K compliant by January 1, 2000."

It is absurd how stupid the public has become in the last year, to think that spin-doctoring actually changes the reality of our situation. God be with us.


-- TA (, November 08, 1999.

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