White House Turns Attention to Local Government Y2K Crisis; Forms Federal Council

Top Clinton administration officials last Tuesday met with representatives from several local government associations in an effort jump-start discussions on fixing government Year 2000 interfaces with city and county government agencies.

Representatives from the National Association of Counties, the National Governors Association, the National League of Cities and Public Technology Inc. met with Office of Management and Budget officials and Year 2000 coordinators from several Cabinet-level federal agencies, including the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Agriculture, to discuss intergovernmental cooperation on the Year 2000 problem.

"The idea is to make sure that all levels of government are working together," said one local government official who attended the meeting. "There will be an emphasis on areas where public safety is involved, including air travel, hospitals and health, and police, fire and emergency support services."

Since last fall, OMB has been pushing federal agencies to take inventories of computer interfaces with state information systems in order to safeguard transactions over those links beyond the Year 2000. But last week's meeting, as well as an earlier session in mid-December, are the only signals the administration has given that it intends to focus on potential interface problems between city and county governments and the federal systems.

Meanwhile, the White House last week also established a formal Y2K coordinating group, called the Year 2000 Conversion Council. In an executive order, the council was made responsible for providing "policy coordination of executive branch agencies with state, local and tribal governments on the [Year 2000] problem."

President Clinton tapped John Koskinen, former deputy director of management at OMB, to head up the council. In this role, Koskinen will take over much of the Y2K liaison work with state governments that had been managed by Sally Katzen. Katzen last month left her position as administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to serve as the deputy director of the National Economic Council.

While at OIRA, Katzen became an activist on federal/state Y2K issues and was considered instrumental in setting the tone for intergovernmental Y2K collaboration.

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