White House declares key infrastructure Y2K-ready

With 51 days left before the New Year, the White House said today that key infrastructures - financial services, energy, transportation and telecommunications - were "well prepared" for Y2K.

President Clinton, in remarks at the White House, said that while there is more to do, "I expect we will experience no major national breakdowns as a result of the year 2000 date change."

John Koskinen, the White House Y2K czar, released the federal government's final Y2K report. He said the government had "high confidence" in critical sectors, but that officials still lack solid information on small businesses and small chemical firms.

If there are problems in some critical areas, the US has reserves. There is a 60- to 90-day supply of food in the wholesale and retail sectors, along with a 90-day "pipeline" supply of drugs, said Koskinen.

As of last month, only half of emergency '911' dispatch systems had completed repairs. If the 911 dispatch systems don't work, people will be able to still place emergency calls, but they may not be automatically routed and there could be response delays, said Koskinen.

Some local governments, school districts, housing authorities and other agencies are also behind, although Koskinen gave generally high marks to federal agencies.

Internationally, developing countries that were generally late in addressing Y2K are at greatest risk of having problems, said Koskinen.

Among industrial sectors, the White House reported that 99.6 per cent of federally insured financial institutions had completed testing.

Bulk electric suppliers were 99 per cent ready, and mission-critical systems at distribution entities that serve over 96 per cent of national electric needs were ready.

The largest local and long-distance telecommunication carriers, which control some 92% of U.S. access lines, had completed Y2K work. Smaller telephone companies, if not ready now, should soon be.

As of September 30, 99 per cent of the major US airlines had completed overall remediation and testing work, according to the report. Federal Aviation Administration systems were ready.

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