Government Sees Few Leap-Year Glitches

WASHINGTON (03/02/2000) - Few leap-year date problems at public agencies and private companies were reported today by the U.S. White House's Y2k coordination center. That doesn't mean that there weren't numerous minor leap-year date glitches, but none were apparently big enough to produce noticeable problems.

That was the message today from the White House's Y2k center, which was on the watch for system problems resulting from computers failing to recognize yesterday as a leap day. The issue arose because most years ending in 00 are not leap years, except if they are divisible by 400.

Federal and state agencies did report a handful of problems, with most quickly fixed, said John Koskinen, the White House year 2000 problem coordinator. Among them: A bar-code system used to read documents at the U.S. Department of Housing failed to work. A form-filing system at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission also didn't work, and there were problems with an imaging system used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Among private-sector companies, Koskinen said the center received reports of a couple of companies with payroll system problems caused by the leap year. A cataloging company also reported a date-related glitch. The firms weren't identified.

"There really haven't been many private sector problems," Koskinen said.

A key issue now is the future of the Y2k command center, which cost some $50 million to create and operate and includes more than $8 million in computer hardware. Federal officials are discussing the possibility of using this center to watch for computer security problems.

Among federal and state agencies and private sector companies, especially those that manage critical infrastructure such as energy, transportation and finance, the Y2k issue prompted a high degree of cooperation to watch for Y2k-related problems.

"The best legacy out of this operation is not the equipment so much as it is the relationships," Koskinen said.

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