Almost all agency systems meet Y2K deadline

Almost all agency systems meet Y2K deadline

Ninety-two percent of mission-critical computer systems at the 24 largest federal agencies met the March 31 deadline for becoming Y2K-compliant, officials announced Wednesday.

Of the 24 agencies, 13 reported that their computer systems were 100 percent compliant, meaning they had been fixed and tested. The Agency for International Development was the only agency with zero compliance.

John Koskinen, the President's Y2K czar, credited federal employees for the steady progress government has made in addressing the Y2K bug. The federal government is ahead of both state governments and the private sector in Y2K compliance, he said.

Contrary to reports that agencies were fixing the Y2K bug in a last-second flurry, Koskinen said consistent progress has been made since February 1998, when the government reported 35 percent compliance. "This progress is a great tribute to the skills and dedication of career federal employees," he said.

But officials warned that much work remains to be done. Several large departments are still not fully compliant, including the Defense Department (88 percent compliant), the State Department (85 percent compliant), and the Department of Transportation (85 percent compliant). Administration officials said the late agencies would be fully compliant by the end of the summer.

The next step for agencies is to begin end-to-end testing of mission critical systems, said G. Edward DeSeve, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. Such testing ensures that federal systems can exchange data with external systems, such as state and local computers.

DeSeve said OMB plans to continue hounding agencies until computer systems have been fully tested and contingency plans have been developed. " 'What if?' is the question that needs to be asked now," he said.

DeSeve said agencies must submit contingency plans by June, when OMB plans to release its ninth quarterly report on agencies' Y2K progress. OMB will closely scrutinize 42 federal programs with the most impact on the public, to make sure they will be able to deliver services after Jan. 1, 2000. Among the high-impact public programs are unemployment insurance, food stamps and Medicaid.

In the process of attacking the Y2K bug, the number of systems agencies have identified as "mission-critical" has decreased from 7,300 to 6,100. But agencies aren't just trying to hide problems, Koskinen insisted. Instead, he said the change shows agencies are seriously examining their systems and making adjustments as they determine which systems are truly critical. All of the reported numbers have been independently verified by government auditors, he added.

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