Government opens $50 million Y2k crisis center : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Government opens $50 million Y2K crisis center

By TED BRIDIS The Associated Press 11/15/99 4:34 PM Eastern

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government offered the first public glimpse Monday of its new $50 million Y2K nerve center, a highly computerized crisis room near the White House designed to track failures worldwide caused by the Year 2000 technology problem.

President Clinton's top Y2K adviser, John Koskinen, said the administration continues to believe there will be no major national problems, but said its Information Coordination Center will watch for "some glitches" anticipated during the New Year's date rollover.

"We hope that night will be really boring," said Koskinen, standing before a glass-empaneled room filled with high-end computers and digital maps showing global time zones. He called it "the one place in the world with the most complete information."

The government Monday also began cautioning against panic as people discover problems during the New Year's weekend, since some non-Y2K computer failures might simply coincide with the date rollover.

"We'll have failures from time to time whether you have a century date change or not," said Skip Patterson, who runs the Year 2000 program for Bell Atlantic Corp. Experts have previously warned of widespread phone outages if everyone tried to make a call around midnight -- what Koskinen described as "Mother's Day by multiples."

Nationwide almost every day, for example, some Internet sites crash, electricity temporarily fails or airline flights are delayed. In the earliest hours of Jan. 1, no one may know whether problems were caused by the Y2K bug or something else.

"The presumption is to blame all failures on Y2K that weekend," Koskinen said.

About 10 percent of all credit transactions fail routinely because, for example, equipment breaks down or because consumers are overextended or forget their ATM password, said Paul Schmelzer, an executive vice president for Orlando, Fla.-based Star Systems Inc., which process about 2 billion financial transactions annually.

He expects those same problems to show up Jan. 1.

"What consumers need to do if they go to an ATM on New Year's Day and find for whatever reason they can't get service, they should do what they do today -- go find a machine down the block or get cash back in the grocery store," Schmelzer said. "Let's don't immediately assume we've got some serious Y2K problems."

The government's Y2K crisis center is hardly a bunker -- it's on the 10th floor of a downtown building just blocks from the White House -- but it includes backup communications systems and entrance guards.

Reports of any problems -- rated "minor" or "significant" -- will be shared with the White House and top government officials who will decide what to do. Information overseas will be fed by the State and Defense departments and industry groups, starting at roughly 6 a.m. EST Dec. 31, when midnight falls worldwide first in New Zealand.

A flurry of activity is expected as midnight arrives across U.S. time zones, with more attention starting mid-day EST Jan. 2 as employees worldwide begin returning to their offices -- and turning on their computers -- for the first time since the date change.

Koskinen predicted that any hacker attacks could be more easily detected during the date rollover because computers will be so closely monitored.

A hacker calling himself "Comdext0r" vandalized a Web site at the Commerce Department late Sunday, warning people to "run for your lives!" and to "hit your computer's power button and never, ever turn it on again" because of the Y2K bug.

A spokesman for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the government agency that handles high-tech policies, said its Internet site was altered about 9 p.m. Sunday but repaired about one hour later.

Koskinen noted that recreational hackers typically vandalize Web sites to demonstrate some vulnerability that a computer administrator failed to fix. He said he was hopeful hackers wouldn't try such demonstrations during the weekend date change.

"We think they will understand this is not the best time to do that," Koskinen said.

-- Homer Beanfang (, November 15, 1999


We can have full confidence that there will be no major problems, as is evidenced by the fact that Mr. Clinton and company have a new $50,000,000 center from which to monitor events as they don't occur.

I'd love to hear someone rationalize (rational lies) this. Wasn't it $40,000,000 last week? Any bets as to the real cost?


-- TA (, November 15, 1999.

That last line had me rolling on the floor. "We think they will understand this is not the best time to do that," Koskinen said. It makes him seem that he "almost" has a sense of humor. A $50 million nerve center to watch for "some glitches"... Please

-- franko (, November 15, 1999.

Well, at least they didn't spend a LOT of money foolishly!

-- Mad Monk (, November 15, 1999.

Anyone dizzy yet?


-- Diane J. Squire (, November 15, 1999.

IMO, another case of where actions speak louder than words. I can only imagine the prep list for this. Think they have contingencies for pizza delivery disruptions, such as pizza MRE's? ;-)

-- Tim (, November 15, 1999.

IF the spin is to prevent panic, why do they have to spend $50 mil to do it? Either the majority of people are so stupid that they cannot see there is no logic behind spending that amount of money to track a non-event. With the spinmaster's logic, wouldn't making a big deal out of this non-event by spending $50mil possibly start a panic? Or, maybe we should all be mad as hell that the gov spent(wasted) our tax money on such an elaborate set-up to moniter a "non-event". Yes - I'm dizzy...

-- Valkyrie (anon@please.xnet), November 15, 1999.

Hee are they supposed to track all this stuff in the dark?

I honestly didn't know whether to laugh or cry after reading this...

-- preparing (, November 16, 1999.

OK, so we have one place that will MONITOR FAILURES (this one), we have another place that will CONTROL THE INFORMATION ABOUT FAILURES (the ICC), we have a group of people that will CONTROL THE PEOPLE WHEN THEY GET MAD ABOUT THE FAILURES, ............

so WHERE THE HECK IS THE CENTER THAT WILL DO ANYTHING ABOUT THE FAILURES????????????? you gotta love this administration.

-- tt (, November 16, 1999.

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