Subcommittee to monitor agency plans

The House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology will monitor how federal agencies manage the process to make their computers year 2000-compliant.

The subcommittee, which held a hearing this month on how the two digits "00" in 2000 will cause government computers to fail or to create erroneous calculations, plans to follow an informal strategy to ensure agencies will have systems that can operate into the next century, according to a subcommittee staff member.

The subcommittee plans to:

* Investigate which federal agencies are behind schedule in conducting an analysis of their computer systems.

* Require agencies to identify a 2000 project manager who will be responsible for making sure each agency's systems are reprogrammed on time.

* Work with the General Accounting Office to formulate a report on the percentage of software that is affected and the cost to make all of the government's computer systems 2000-compliant.

* Ask agencies that are further along in fixing the date-dependent systems to create a checklist that other agencies can follow when analyzing and fixing their systems.

Olga Grkavac, vice president of the Information Technology Association of America's System Integration Division, said, "These steps are positive. But more than anything, the hearing raised awareness that there is a problem, which is the biggest obstacle [to fixing the computers] right now.

"I think Congress needs to go after the agencies to get periodic updates because time is so short," she added.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the committee's ranking minority member, said she plans to issue a survey this spring to agencies to determine how many federal systems are not 2000-compliant, how much it will cost to fix it and what a particular agency's strategy is to re-engineer those systems.

Starting in May, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will hold a series of hearings on the 2000 problem.

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