As if things are not good enough... "Chance For Small Y2K Disasters" : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Chance For Small Y2K Disasters By Robert MacMillan, Newsbytes. November 09, 1999

While the State Department today warned the House International Relations Committee of the possible nuclear accidents that could happen in Russia because of the Year 2000 problem, the General Accounting Office (GAO) in the same hearing also warned the committee of possible agency accidents that could happen because of the same problem.

The GAO in a report said that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department both have left much to be desired in their preparations for the Year 2000 problem, adding that the best bet for both agencies at this point is to prepare triage and contingency plans on many fronts.

Meanwhile, a CIA official said that the date change problem only leaves a slight possibility for causing Chernobyl-style nuclear disasters, but a "higher-than-normal" chance for smaller disasters, mainly in Soviet-era nuclear reactors.

But beyond all the efforts that the State Department and USAID are making to provide assistance to Americans abroad as well as foreign nationals (through humanitarian assistance and Year 2000 preparation kits), the GAO and both the agencies' offices of inspectors general lambasted the agencies for providing inaccurate pictures of their compliance.

"The two agencies have taken a number of positive steps to address international Y2K risks," said the GAO report. "Both agencies also report that they have completed or almost completed remediation and testing of their mission-critical computer systems. However, State and USAID have been much less effective in the area of business continuity and contingency planning."

With only a little more than 60 days to go until the date change, USAID only has just now approved a toolkit to help other countries prepare, and it may provide little more than a roadmap for these countries, said Theodore Alves, director of Information Technology and Special Audits in the USAID Office of the Inspector General.

"Is there enough time?" asked incredulous committee Chairman Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y.

"It's got (to get) going to solve the problem," Alves said. "It's not a silver bullet."

Linda Koontz, associate director of Governmentwide and Defense Information Systems in the Accounting and Information Management Division of the GAO, said that "I don't believe the (State) Department is prepared."

The State Department's travel advisories on the Year 2000 readiness in many countries, furthermore, are "vague" and contain "too much boilerplate language," according to that agency's inspector general, Jacquelyn Williams-Bridgers.

"The challenge is to get what we have into the hands of US citizens," Williams-Bridgers said. "We recommend that the department release additional information."

In response to a question from Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., State Department Year 2000 Special Representative John O'Keefe noted that the US also is hamstrung in working on Year 2000 problems with nuclear nations India and Pakistan because of the ongoing embargo that resulted from the countries' recent rounds of nuclear testing.

According to CIA National Intelligence Officer for Science and Technology Lawrence Gershwin, Russia, Ukraine, China and Indonesia represent the biggest difficulties in Year 2000 readiness at this time, though he pointed out that Italy is a notable exception among western European countries.

Gershwin also said that he is confident there will be "no launches of ballistic missiles," but added that he worries about "Russia misinterpreting early warning data." He said that Russia and the US will coordinate their efforts to make sure this does not happen.

Copies of GAO reports normally are available at


I won't even want to start commenting on this story...

-- Forum Regular (Here@y2k.comx), November 09, 1999


Hmmm... a "small disaster". Is that like "jumbo shrimp"? Gosh--makes me glad that they're not anticipating any large disasters!

-- Ann M. (, November 11, 1999.

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