Senator suggests feds help states with Y2K problems

Senator suggests feds help states with Y2K problems

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, today reiterated his view that the year 2000 computer problem remains a "top priority" for Congress, while saying states and localities may be entitled to share in federal emergency funding to help them deal with the problem.

But John Koskinen, chairman of the president's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, told the Appropriations panel that state and local governments' computer problems do not appear to result from a lack of funding, but rather a lack of attention to the Y2K bug.

As far as federal programs are concerned, however, Koskinen said emergency contingency funding continues to play an important role in agencies' abilities to meet the Y2K challenge. Along those lines, Koskinen had reassuring words for the panel, saying progress on that front continues to be "strong [and] steady."

"While there has been a lot of grumbling and criticism of [the federal government's] efforts," Koskinen said, he suspects the federal government will outpace the private sector in resolving its Y2K problems.

In particular, Koskinen said, he expects the IRS will have its computer systems ready to go well before tax returns are due in April 2000.

Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, and congressional leaders on the Y2K problem sent a letter to President Clinton today urging the administration "to make a resolution of the Year 2000 computer crisis a national priority." The letter also recommends the administration "carefully re-evaluate its Year 2000 needs, taking into account the Year 2000 costs determined by the General Accounting Office. Once that is done, it is our recommendation that the FY 2000 budget you present to Congress reflect actual Year 2000 needs for fiscal year 2000."

The letter expressed concern the administration has already spent more than $1 billion of the $3.35 billion in FY99 emergency supplemental funding, reminding Clinton this funding "should be preserved only for vital government year 2000 compliance efforts."