Accepting responsibility for Year 2000

Another week another Year 2000 story. At least that's the way it seems and the news is never good.

A report released by a House committee last week tacked another $1 billion onto the estimated Year 2000 fix for federal government computer systems. This week Congress handed out a report card showing that some agencies are lagging behind in addressing Year 2000 issues. Let's remember it was Congress that told the agencies they would have to find the money for Year 2000 fixes. At the same time FCW reported on recent NASA tests that revealed most PCs at the agency will be unable to process 21st century dates.

While most of the attention and the press have been aimed at the century date-change's effect on mainframes and other large systems little has been said about the enormous base of desktops and portables in the government. Many dismiss these concerns claiming that PCs unable to handle the date change will be ready for upgrades before the Year 2000. While this may be true the reality is that some PCs rolling off the lines today also will be noncompliant.

Despite growing evidence that the Year 2000 problem may live up to the media hype many continue to downplay the severity of the issue. Even internally we disagree about whether appointing a Year 2000 czar will solve the problem but when the finger-pointing stops someone must accept responsibility. If agencies and legislators can't even agree on the scope of the problem it's unlikely that they can solve it in the time remaining.

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