Koskinen: Lessons Learned

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COPYRIGHT 1999 TRAFFIC WORLD MAGAZINE John Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, spoke last week on the millennium bug. He not only gave a thumbs up for United States' preparedness but also spoke about positive aspects of the Y2K challenge - mainly bringing technology into the forefront of business planning.

When the council started work in February 1998, Congress' outlook on the government's Y2K readiness was grim, Koskinen said. Now, two years later, the outlook is positive, he said. More than 99 percent of the federal government's criical systems are compliant and major industries basically are finished with Y2K work.In the United States, said Koskinen, "we do not expect to see major national failures as a result of the date change. Systems supporting key parts of the infrastructure - electric power grids, telecommunications and financial networks, air traffic control and other major transportation systems - "are well prepared for the year 2000," said Koskinen. Airplanes, air traffic control systems, major airports, major rail lines, trucks and ocean ports and ships in the United States are all ready for Y2K, he added.

"In the United States alone, the Commerce Department estimates that the total bill for Y2K efforts among business and government will exceed $100 billion," said Koskinen.

There are, however, some areas of concern, such as health care and education, small businesses and local governments, said Koskinen. There are no significant regional or national risks with Y2K, but there may be risk at the local level, he said. Embedded systems, once thought to be a major problem, did not turn out to be as big a problem as people thought it would be, said Koskinen.

Internationally, much work has been done but Koskinen expects more may be needed. Over 170 countries have Y2K programs in place, he said, but many countries are not as prepared as the United States. "It's obviously too early to declare victory and go home," he said; "We do expect to see some Y2K problems surface, particularly outside o the United States."

The challaenges facing the Y2K conversion, Koskinen said, included procrastination, perceiving Y2K as an information processing problem, decentralization and competition in the private sector, lack of federal oversight in many areas leading to poor group planning, and fear of being sued.

A big challenge, said Koskinen, "is the temptation to think of Jan. 1 as a seminal date on which everything or nothing Y2K-related will occur." Y2K challenges can happen any time a computer that is not Y2K compliant comes into contact with a year 2000 date "before or after Jan. 1." Computers may experience a slow degradation of performance instead of grinding to a halt, he said.

But there is a silver lining in the cloud. Y2K has put technology at the forefront of business issues, said Koskinen. "Y2K is teaching us that top management needs to be more involved in information technology on an ongoing basis, since information technology cuts to the very heart of how organizations conduct their business," he said.

"Y2K is also showing us that we need to do a better job of 'configuration management,' in other words, keeping track of the technology we use and the functions it performs. Y2K has provided many large firms a reason to conduct" for the first time ever "a comprehensive inventory of their information technology infrastructure and processes."

Other issues Koskinen believes came to light with the millennium bug include sloppy software development, inconsistent or nonexistent standards, and the value of forming partnerships to achieve a common goal, partnerships that need to be built upon after Jan. 1."Y2K is also helping us all to develop a better appreciation of our growing reliance on information technology. This increased awareness should encourage all of us to devote more time and resources to improving and protecting these systems," he said.

Lastly, Koskinen noted the widening gap between the technology "haves" and "have nots," drawing a parallel between the United States and developing countries. "While developing countries have much less IT, they also are at greater risks for IT failures due to limited resources," he said. "If we are to truly move into the 21st century on the wings of electronic commerce, we need to focus our energies on finding ways to bring others along with us."

-- Steve (hartsman@ticon.net), December 25, 1999


He is still flunking.

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), December 25, 1999.

Finals start in one week.

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), December 25, 1999.

Did he say how much of the $100bill went to storable food/water at the White House? I heard $50 mill?

-- Hokie (nn@va.com), December 25, 1999.

Koskinen, still on the foreskin of technology...


-- Y2Kook (y2kook@usa.net), December 25, 1999.

How much did Koskenin get paid for saying over and over again;


Where will he be New Years Eve?

Does he know Clinton is planning on handing him over to a lynch mob on 1-6-0000?

If you had been offered his job, complete with script, would you have taken it?

-- woody (WOODY11420@aol.com), December 25, 1999.

Kook - LOL Let's hope he's not Jewish! Thanks for your contributions over the past year, I've really come to enjoy them. God Bless us, everyone!

-- Gail (fialkow@erols.com), December 25, 1999.

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