U.S. Follows Pattern of Smooth Y2K Transition

SAN MATEO (01/01/2000) - Following successful year-2000 rollovers throughout the rest of the world, the major infrastructure systems of the United States appeared to pass into the year 2000 without significant glitches.

One hour before the West Coast passed into the year 2000, John Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on Y2K Conversion, delivered his final scheduled briefing of the day in Washington and had a positive message.

"We have been unable to find any significant Y2K incidents," said Koskinen. "I was pleasantly surprised."

However, he did note that issues with businesses' information-processing systems may not become apparent until the business week starts on Monday.

"It's far too early to say it's over," he said. "Clearly, we have another three or four days of close monitoring ahead of us."

Ninety-five nuclear plants out of 103 are operating normally, he reported.

There have been some issues with systems at eight plants related to year 2000, but fixing them has been a minor issue, said Koskinen. In addition, 150 of the country's highest volume airports are all operating normally, he added. There have also been some minor telecom issues related to call volumes at midnight, where some folks got a circuit busy signal, he said, but nothing that had not been seen in other parts of the world, and nothing that caused significant problems.

Officials monitoring key industries had been confident that the U.S. rollover would go smoothly because energy and transportation systems, including aviation, that are fixed to Greenwich Mean Time, showed no problems earlier in the day.

Municipal officials and the hoards of IT professionals working early Saturday morning showed a great deal of satisfaction at the lack of year-2000-related news.

"It's been a non-event at [Boston's] Logan airport. We even had a flight touch-down just after midnight," Joe Lawless, the director of public safety at Massport, the Massachusetts airport authority, told a Boston television station. He added that he expected it to be a slow day and that he and the 350 people working during the weekend were confident there would be no problems.

A Midwestern utility did report a problem that did not cut off power to any customers, but the experience at GPU Energy in Reading, Penn., that serves New Jersey and Pennsylvania, was more typical.

"It has been a relatively quiet night. ... Power is flowing to more than our 2 million customers," said Carl Parks, the executive sponsor of GPU Energy's Y2K program. The utility boosted the number of employees from 70 during a normal weekend evening to 600, many of whom were running tests, and 300 on standby.

The telecommunications infrastructure and Internet are working as hoped as well. Keynote, an Internet performance measuring company, has reported that performance after midnight on the East Coast is the same as during the pre-year-2000 period.

Koskinen estimated that the United States spent roughly $100 billion on solving potential year-2000 problems, while another $100 billion was spent worldwide.

The U.S. Government has spent $8.5 billion fixing its own systems since 1995.

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