All Quiet on the Year-2000 Front

WASHINGTON (01/03/2000) - Halfway into the first business day since the millennial date change, year-2000 Czar John Koskinen today had little to report in terms of glitches or outages.

Instead, Koskinen lately has had to turn much of his efforts to defending the time and money investments poured into year-2000 remediation work.

"Because of the extensive amounts of time, effort, and work the federal, state, and local governments, the global banking community, and companies have put into Y2K, we are seeing only some glitches around the edges, but systems overall are working well," Koskinen said.

Koskinen, speaking at a noon EST briefing, said financial markets across the globeopened without incident. Early reports from U.S. financial and trading markets also were positive.

Koskinen -- who serves as chairman on President Clinton's Council for the Year 2000 Conversion andheads up the federal government's year-2000 Information Coordination Center (ICC) -- plans to hold a final briefing at 5:00 p.m. EST to report any disruptions reported throughout the business day.

After that, the ICC's around-the-clock operations may become daily exercises only, and the center may cut back its two- to three-per-day press briefings, depending on today's outcome.

But so far, what ICC has gotten are anecdotal stories about minor glitches. For instance, a customer at a U.S. video rental store would have been charged more than $91,000 in late charges by a computerthat thought the videos were 100 years overdue.

Other incidents recapped at the briefing included glitches associated with, but not attributable directly to, year 2000.

For instance, in Sweden, Internet users were unable to access bank accounts because they did notdownload new versions of a browser that expired Dec. 31.

"This was not a Y2K problem, but it is a classic example ... of the kinds of things we are expecting in terms of relatively minor glitches small businesses or individuals might experience," Koskinen said.

In chronicling federal government reports, Koskinen reported a virtually clean slate, noting that the Social Security Administration -- which overhauled more than 50 million lines of code -- had no problems to report.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is still investigating trouble with one of itssystems used to let gun dealers register for licenses electronically.

Remote users have been unable to access the system, although ATF personnel at agency headquarters have full access to the system. Koskinen pointed out that the system has nothing to do with criminal background checks required before handgun purchase.

Koskinen played up the return on investment possible by maintaining the year-2000 level of cooperation among all sectors of the economy on technology matters.

Industry volunteers from leading security and Internet companies and trade groups, organized as the Y2K Cyber Assurance National Information Center, have reported into ICC around the clock on hacker activity.

However, hacker activity has been reportedly less than usual at government facilities and elsewhere during the rollover.

Koskinen said he had briefed Vice President Al Gore twice -- Friday afternoon and Saturday -- on thestatus of the nation's computers. Gore was pleased with the lack of year-2000 incidents and questioned neither the investments made to thwart system failures, nor the hype surrounding the problem, Koskinen said.

The federal government spent more than $8 billion on year-2000 fixes, and the United States overall has spent about $100 billion, according to Department of Commerce estimates.

The President Council on the Year 2000 Conversion, in Washington, D.C., is at www.y2k.gov .

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