Y2K freeze

After spraying for bugs, you don't open the doors and windows. That's the advice the federal government has decided to follow with the Year 2000 bug. Many agencies, having spent billions of dollars fixing missioncritical systems for the Year 20000 computer problem, have barred or severely restrict

After spraying for bugs, you don't open the doors and windows. That's the advice the federal government has decided to follow with the Year 2000 bug.

Many agencies, having spent billions of dollars fixing mission-critical systems for the Year 20000 computer problem, have barred or severely restricted the purchase of hardware and software until March to avoid introducing any new Year 2000 bugs that may shut down their computer systems. The restrictions extend to March to avoid problems that could occur on Feb. 29 if noncompliant systems do not recognize 2000 as a leap year.

The list of agencies taking added precautions include such big IT spenders as the departments of Defense and Justice and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Even departments that stopped short of a total freeze, such as DOD, made it extremely difficult for subordinate agencies to purchase or install new IT software or hardware. John Hamre, deputy secretary of Defense, said DOD needs to ensure that until March 15 any new IT system configuration "does not add undue Y2K risk."

To back that up, Hamre slapped tough configuration controls on all of DOD, requiring changes to already-tested, Year 2000-compliant systems to be approved by its four-star commanders in chief, such as those who run the European and Pacific commands.

The Marines tightened the policy language more, mandating a "frozen software configuration load" from Oct. 1 through March 1. The Navy, in a message sent by chief information officer Dan Porter, told all commands that the "bottom line is that no changes to Y2K-compliant systems should be made unless absolutely necessary" until March 15.

The FAA, whose air traffic control systems could induce a nationwide New Year's hangover if they are bit by the Year 2000 bug, has instituted a freeze on all IT equipment purchases until March 31, according to a spokesman from the Transportation Department .

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority—which operates the Ronald Reagan Washington National and Dulles International airports that serve the nation's capital—likewise does not want to tinker with its Year 2000-compliant systems and has frozen new system software changes until after Feb. 29.The Health Care Financing Administration, the federal agency in charge of the Medicaid and Medicare programs, has established a moratorium on systems changes through April 1, said agency CIO Gary Christoph. "We've done so much testing and validation, and we're not going to do anything to upset that apple cart," he said.

A number of departments have found a middle ground between declaring an outright moratorium and placing no restrictions at all.

The Agriculture Department plans to allow its agencies to continue buying hardware and software, although agencies will not be allowed to install new system software until after the rollover. "One of the concerns is [that] if we put a hard freeze on acquisitions, it may prohibit people from buying patches coming out for Y2K," said Anne Reed, CIO at the USDA. "We're trying to urge people to be smart about it rather than by edict."

Nevertheless, the USDA's National Information Technology Center, which processes data for numerous federal agencies, placed a limited moratorium on system software changes for its mainframes.

George Molaski, CIO at the Transportation Department, gave individual DOT agencies wide latitude to institute a freeze.

But, Molaski said, he wants DOT agencies such as the Coast Guard to "make sure any changes you make [to IT systems] don't undo what's been done."

Deputy DOT CIO Eugene Taylor cautioned DOT systems managers to "carefully consider any modifications to a Y2K-complaint system," suggesting such changes be "deferred" until at least after the turn of the millennium.

Like DOT, the Justice Department did not issue a blanket freeze order to its agencies. But department officials have frozen software and hardware changes for the two data centers shared by the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has declared a moratorium on information technology additions or changes until March 31 but will allow a number of exceptions, said Ernesto Castro, the department's Year 2000 program manager.

VA systems managers can obtain a waiver to make emergency repairs or add simple hardware, such as a new desktop workstation. The moratorium also will not apply for systems that may need to be reconfigured to calculate cost of living increases for veterans' benefit payments or for systems that have to be reprogrammed to accommodate congressional mandates for new benefits.

-- Dan Caternicchia, Colleen O'Hara, Paula Shaki Trimble, L. Scott Tillett and Daniel Verton contributed to this article.

***

Sample of Agencies' Y2K Freeze

* Health Care Financing Administration—Freeze on all system changes through April 1.

* Justice—Freeze on data centers' software.

* Federal Aviation Administration—Freeze on all hardware and software.

*Marine Corps—Freeze on all software only.

*Veterans Affairs—Freeze on all hardware and software.

Vendors don't feel chill - yet

Vendors selling to the federal market contacted by Federal Computer Week said for the most part they have not seen a slowdown in business because of freezes or restrictions on agency hardware and software changes.

Joel Lipkin, vice president of business development for Government Technology Services Inc., said that in terms of PC sales, "We're not seeing anybody slowing down or holding off because of Y2K. I think people are doing rational procurements. [They] recognize that the last thing you want to do is freeze your old systems just because it's almost January."

Pedro Ferro, marketing director of Dell Federal, also said the company has not seen much of a slowdown in PC sales. The company, however, has experienced "a little less in the enterprise business than we wanted to see," he said.

Although the slowdown has yet to occur, some companies are bracing for it. John Leahy, acting director of marketing for Sun Microsystems Federal Inc., said his company has "not seen a noticeable slowdown" even though "it's something we thought would occur."

But other companies are convinced that the freeze has had an impact.

"Business is much slower than normal for the week before Thanksgiving," said Alan Bechara, vice president of Comark Federal Systems. Still, Bechara said he believed the IT lockdown instituted by many agencies through March would have only a "modest" impact on his business.

Although the slowdown still may affect software and some hardware, PC sales should remain level, said Chip Mather, an analyst and senior vice president of Acquisition Solutions Inc. "A PC is not going to cause damage" to already-tested mission-critical systems, Mather said.

Mather said he believes that any slowdown in large-scale systems development projects is directly related to Year 2000 but not because of a purchasing freeze. Mather said such programs could be stalled because development funds may already have been siphoned off for Year 2000 fixes.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.