US IS READY ........ (Y)hy 2 (K)are of people? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Sorry, might have already been posted but is fairly oooohhhh.


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The federal government gets a B+ on its Y2K readiness. But with little more than a month to go before 2000 arrives, some government programs crucial to children and families are still playing catch-up with their computer systems, according to a congressional report.

In its last report before the millennium change, the House Y2K Task Force found that of 43 federal programs deemed to have high impact on Americans, doubts remain about 18. Among them: child nutrition, food safety inspection, food stamps, low-income energy assistance, Medicaid and public housing.

Morella says Y2K readiness in social services is vital because they affect the most vulnerable people Holes in the safety net? Many of those so-called "social safety net" programs are run by state or local governments which have demonstrated varying levels of effort to solve the Y2K problem.

"The states must make sure that they are all compliant in terms of being able to provide these very necessary services, particularly because we are dealing with those people who are most vulnerable," task force member Rep. Constance Morella (R-Maryland) said Monday.

Take low-income housing. The report found some cities hadn't checked to see if computers that run essentials like heat, elevators, fire alarm and security systems will work come January 1.

A survey of nine local housing authorities found only New York was Y2K ready, while the eight others were seriously behind in preparedness, including:

 Baltimore  Chicago  Dallas  Detroit  Fort Worth  New Orleans  Omaha  Washington

"Other than New York City, these local housing authorities had no plan to warn their tenants of the potential risk to their health and safety," said Rep. Stephen Horn (R-California), another task force member.

Among the panel's other major concerns:

 Food stamps -- There may be Y2K-related problems in 10 locations -- Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Guam, Illinois, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, US Virgin Islands and Washington, DC.

 Child nutrition -- Programs in six states might be disrupted -- Alabama, Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico and Oregon.

 Medicare -- It's unclear whether thousands of doctors and hospitals have tested their billing systems.

 Student aid -- Many colleges and universities may not be able to process loans and receive funding.

Why are there Y2K worries? Many older computers only read the last two digits in a year. If not converted, they could mistake the year 2000, or "00," for 1900, possibly leading to malfunctions and failures. Justice defends its Y2K readiness The task force gave failing grades to many federal agencies when it issued its first Y2K "report card" in July 1996.

The improvement to B+ overall means the government has "come a long way since we began examining this enormous technological challenge four years ago," Horn said.

Horn said that of 24 major federal agencies the task force has tracked, 12 have completed preparations and eight have fixed their computers but still lack testing.

Four departments -- Defense, Health and Human Services, Justice and Treasury -- still need to convert some crucial systems, the report said. The task force singled out Justice, which includes the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration, as worst of all, giving it a "D" rating for its lack of compliance.

"The department does have a contingency plan," Horn said, "but the plan is worthless because it has not been tested."

Stephen Colgate, Justice's Y2K coordinator, said the unfinished work includes getting new equipment to FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration offices in other countries and will not affect department operations or services to citizens.

"It's just a few work stations in some difficult places to get to," Colgate said. At any rate, he said, the equipment would be in place soon. "We'll be an A or B student by December 15," he told CNN.

Safe to fly? The task force said air traffic control systems are among those with work still to be done, but it emphasized that flying will be safe on January 1. The Federal Aviation Administration says all its systems are fully Y2K-compliant.

Joel Willemssen, the chief Y2K expert for the General Accounting Office, the investigative wing of Congress, said the FAA is still testing some air traffic control integration systems.

He also said U.S. experts are not certain about Y2K preparations of some international governments, but that safety is not a problem.

Horn said he will fly from Los Angeles to Washington on the last day of the year, and Morella stressed that no plane will fly under unsafe conditions. "No one has to worry about getting on a plane domestically," she said.

FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto said all aviation systems, including air traffic control, were Y2K-compliant as of June 30 and have since done extensive end-to-end testing. "Frankly, we are ready," Takemoto said.

The report found that some cities haven't checked to see if computer-run essentials like heat and elevator systems in low-income housing will work properly on January 1, 2000 'My greatest concern is that people will panic' Morella said all vital federal systems will be fine on January 1. Some inconvenience related to computer problems may be experienced, she said, but "my greatest concern is that people will panic."

She repeated the advice of the White House Y2K office that people should take simple precautions, as they would for a storm, but shouldn't take such actions as drawing large sums from their banks.

Horn agreed. "The stupidest thing they can do is take money out of the bank," he said, because thieves will be targeting ATM machines or homes where they believe large amounts of cash are stashed.

Task force member Rep. Tom Davis (R-Virginia) said computer systems involved in health and safety will be free of computer bugs. But he worries that congressional offices will be besieged by people whose government salary or benefits checks may arrive a day late, causing them to fear a Y2K breakdown.

Correspondent Kate Snow and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

-- Rainbow (, November 24, 1999


"my greatest concern is that people will panic." Yup, ours too. That's why we've been working for two years to finesse the panic, to get people prepared long in advance. Preparation prevents panic. And their efforts for the last two years have been to keep people in the dark, because sleeping people don't panic, either.

In a month, more or less, we'll know what works.

-- bw (home@puget.sound), November 24, 1999.

I find it interesting that in all government reports I've read on y2k preparedness the one agency that is consistently not mentioned is the IRS. From what I understand, they have some of the oldest, thus most vunerable type computers around.

-- Rich (, November 24, 1999.

GAO also had some concerns about the IRS. (The GAO is the General Accounting Office, which is the audit arm of the Congressional branch of the US government.)

-- Mad Monk (, November 24, 1999.

"No one has to worry about getting on a plane domestically," she said.


YEP, thats because there won't be any flying!!

-- karla (, November 25, 1999.

karla: you need to work on your BWAAAAHAAAAAAAAing...

With practice, I'm sure you'll be a mini-Milne in no time...

-- counting down (, November 25, 1999.


No, it is Soilent Green are people. :)

The Y2K unprepared are sheeple.

-- the Virginian (, November 25, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ