Secretary of Commerce report today : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Remarks by Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley Economics of Y2K Press Conference November 17, 1999 Washington, DC [As Prepared For Delivery]

Today, I am releasing a report on the economic impact of the Y2K computer glitch. It was prepared by our Economics and Statistics Administration.

What we found was this: The greatest cost to our economy is behind us, with billions of dollars diverted from other uses to fix the problem. Any glitches that pop up next year should not hurt our economic growth. So, I am not going to lose any sleep worrying about January 1st because I think the USA is ready for Y2K. And, in February 2000, we will be celebrating our nations longest ever economic expansion.

America has spent more than $100 billion preparing for the Y2K bug. That is about $365 for every American man, woman and child. Is this a lot of money? Absolutely! But the potential cost of not doing anything was far greater.

Obviously, business and government heard the warnings loud and clear. Most companies acted responsibly to assure that the savings and safety of American families are not at risk. They put full resources into hunting down a problem, when frankly every CEO in the country would have rather put the billions into new products and improving their productivity.

As early as 1995, both the private and public sector began to correct the Y2K problem. In '95, costs were almost $5 billion. In 1998, spending peaked at almost $32 billion. Costs this year are projected to be a little less. There will be some spending in 2000 and very little in 2001. This is because some companies and organizations have not yet dealt with the problem. Some have spent less than they need to.

Overall what these numbers tell us is we can start looking for a kind of Y2K dividend. Companies can once again put capital and thousands of information technology specialists to work creating new products and solving new problems -- not dealing with old ones.

Our report shows the sectors that have invested the most -- and are best prepared -- are those that form the critical network of goods and services on which the rest of the economy depends: energy, finance, telecommunications and transportation.

Less well prepared seem to be the education and health care sectors, smaller businesses and agencies, or non-critical systems. It would be surprising if Y2K problems in these areas do not make news in early January.

But their problems are likely to be limited to specific sites or local areas. And they can probably be fixed easily and quickly once identified.

I want to be very clear. We are exploring new territory. We have no historic data to draw from. And we can't be sure how the public will respond to real or imagined problems as the millennium is actually upon us.

Everything we are hearing is that people -- and businesses -- are becoming less worried as the January 1 date approaches.

But this is no time for over confidence. All firms and individuals should identify, fix and test for Y2k problems -- and have contingency plans.

This is not an easy task. I know. I manage a big department with offices in every state and around the globe.

Our job has been to try to help businesses prepare. We have distributed 500,000 Y2K self-help kits throughout the country. Three hundred thousand have gone to small businesses and manufacturers. And 200,000 went to associations and other groups. In case any of you have a small business, there is a copy of the CD in your press packet. We also have made the kit available in 10 languages and distributed 100,000 overseas.

But my number one responsibility is right here at Commerce.

Like some businesses, sometimes we've had to be a little creative. For example, last year, we checked the temperature alarm system for our supercomputer in Gaithersburg. We found it couldn't be upgraded. So, to give us time to install and test a new alarm, we moved the operating calendar back 50 years. The engineer said it was an arbitrary choice. It had nothing to do with the fact I am about the same age.

I'm proud to report today we are doing our part. The critical systems at the Commerce Department are 100 percent Y2K ready.

Thank you.


-- Martin Thompson (, November 18, 1999


Excuse me, but, since when did the world stop at our f####en border??? Can this moron say the words imported sub assemblies?? Can he say the words trading partners?? How about export markets?? Other folks are saying we're OK but the Pacific rim is only a maybe- maybe not?? Europe is WAY behind??

Talk about a fu##ing disconnect!


-- Even I can see international connections and I'M jes a DUMB JOCK FOOTBALLER (nighttr@in.lane), November 18, 1999.

Once again, one of our "leaders" thinks that spending money on the problem equals a fix of the problem. The fixes themselves may end up being more destructive than the original problem, so I'm not at all confident Mr. Commerce has much to say here about how robust everything is going to be come Feb. 2K.

When the coffee stops coming in from South America, and the cigarettes get stranded in Kentucky, and the Prozac gets lost in Michigan, this world will be--in the words of Planet of the Apes Charleton Heston--"A madhouse!"

-- Boydroid (, November 18, 1999.

Citizens of ! Cease this treason! Do not examine your food for a country of origin! All food is produced here! Do not examine your electrical products! There are no "Made in Taiwan / Assembled in China" stickers. We rule the world. We need no one.

is the best. We have prepared. Our armies are strong. Wave your flags! Wave! WAVE, DAMN YOU!

-- Colin MacDonald (, November 18, 1999.

I just pray that the cat's food is made in the USA. What's that you say, the oil is an import and the trucks aren't rolling? But Kitty is hungry. I wonder if he can catch a mouse...

-- Mara (, November 18, 1999.

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