GSA sets 2000 language

As the controversy about federal response to Year 2000 issues grows the General Services Administration is set to publish as early as this week contract language that could substantially ease the procurement of software and services to help fix the problem.

GSA had proposed several earlier versions of the language which is intended to ensure that vendors provide hardware and software that is Year 2000-compliant. The information technology community objected that the first version which proposed a "fault-free" standard was impossible to meet [FCW July 22].

That language subsequently was revised to eliminate the fault-free reference but that version also met with industry criticism. In an Aug. 12 letter to GSA and the Year 2000 Interagency Committee the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) described it as "severely flawed" and "overly broad."

But Larry Wolfe director of the Strategic Information Technology Analysis Division at GSA told a group of federal and industry executives last week that "we are at the point right now where we are almost putting out another version."

Wolfe spoke at a Year 2000 seminar sponsored by GSA's Federal Systems Integration and Management Center. He said the revised version will be published on the GSA/Year 2000 Interagency Committee World Wide Web Page www.itpolicy.gsa.gov.

Among the points of contention that GSA and ITAA are working out is language that holds that products delivered under a contract process date data accurately "in combination."

According to the ITAA letter "the term `in combination' fails to recognize the complexity of the computing environments in existence today." The letter continued "Any product even if deemed to be Year 2000 `compliant ' may be interfacing to systems which are not compliant."

No New Money

GSA's recommended contract language was one of several topics discussed at last week's Year 2000 seminar. In opening the seminar Joe Thompson GSA's chief information officer called the effort to fix the Year 2000 problem "one of the most significant IT investments ever."

Indeed money was a recurrent theme. Robert Cook a staff member with the House Science Subcommittee on Technology said there was little enthusiasm in Congress for new appropriations to pay for fixing the Year 2000 problem.

Edward Springer a senior staff member with the Office of Management and Budget's Information Policy and Technology branch said "No one is talking about putting new money in the budget for anything."

This appears to close the door once again on Year 2000-specific funding lawmakers previously had said such funding could be available [FCW Aug. 5].

Other Year 2000 developments included:

~ Best practices. The Year 2000 Interagency Committee has posted a Year 2000 best-practices document on its Web page. The document is accessible only to individuals whose addresses end in .mil or .gov.

~ House hearing. The Technology Subcommittee and the House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on Government Management Information and Technology are holding a joint hearing about the Year 2000 on Sept. 10.

~ GAO report. The Subcommittee on Government Management Information and Technology plans to commission a General Accounting Office report on the Year 2000.

~ GSA schedule. GSA is working on a way to identify products on the multiple-award schedule that are Year 2000-compliant. The current plan is to identify such products with a logo.

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