US agencies '99.9 per cent compliant' for Y2K

All but one of the US federal government's mission-critical computer systems are expected to be capable of operating January 1, and problems with the remaining system - a military battlefield command and control system - should be avoided by a "workaround," the Clinton administration reported last week.

In its final 1999 report on efforts to make federal computer systems ready to recognise the year 2000, the Office of Management and Budget declared the government "99.9 per cent compliant" and "well prepared," in its final quarterly report.

But OMB also warned that "even with all of the intensive planning efforts of the federal government, there will undoubtedly be some Y2K problems that emerge."

Thus, federal agencies will spend the final days of 1999 testing their computer systems and refining plans designed to keep agencies operating despite any computer difficulties.

Of 6175 mission-critical computer systems, 6167 were declared ready for the Year 2000 date change, while eight were not compliant, OMB reported December 14. Of the eight systems, four are to be replaced, three are to be repaired, and one is to be scrapped.

Two of the noncompliant systems are run by the Justice Department and six are run by the military. But the noncompliant systems will not degrade law enforcement or national security, OMB contends.

Among the military systems, a "wing command and control" system requires a workaround to prevent problems from cropping up January 1. The system was to have been replaced by a theatre battle management system, but that system has been delayed.

The other five noncompliant military systems are either minor - such as a faulty clock display in the M-1A2 tank - or obsolete. For example, the Defence Department plans to scrap a retirement points accounting management system that keeps track of points personnel earn toward retirement.

The two Justice systems are expected to be made Year 2000-compliant by the end of the year. They are office automation systems for the Drug Enforcement Agency and Justice's Tax Division.

Although virtually all federal computer systems are ready for the date change, OMB warned that many state computer systems are not, and those systems could affect the delivery of federal benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid payments, unemployment insurance payments, child care and child nutrition programs.

Of the 55 states and territories, only 41 are fully compliant regarding the Year 2000 problem, OMB reported.

Alabama, American Samoa, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands have the greatest number of noncompliant computer systems. Each has noncompliant computer systems managing at least three federal programs.

Although the federal government does not have control over the programs or the computer systems that administer them, federal agencies have included the programs in their contingency plans in an effort to ensure that disruptions in the delivery of services are minimal, OMB said.

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