Council chair to be 'facilitator'

When John Koskinen takes over as chairman of the President's Year 2000 Conversion Council next month, he plans to coordinate Year 2000 work among agencies and to work with the private sector to ensure Year 2000 fixes are compatible with federal systems.

Koskinen, whom President Clinton this month appointed chairman of the council, said his job will be to act as a "coordinator, facilitator and catalyst" to ensure Year 2000 issues are dealt with quickly. "We will not take over what is being done by agencies and other groups," he said. "We will reinforce the work they are doing.

"The other half of the job is to look outside of the federal government to other institutions," he said. "It does no good if our systems work but do not work with other institutions."

According to the Office of Management and Budget, seven agencies have shown "insufficient progress" in managing the Year 2000 problem. OMB has ordered these agencies to redirect some fiscal 1998 funds earmarked for new projects to support reprogramming and testing computers for Year 2000 compliance.

Koskinen, who will report to the president's Cabinet every quarter, said he will be working with the seven agencies. "One of my jobs will be to work with agency heads to see what resources they have and what resources they need to make the systems work," he said.

Resources, Koskinen said, could include asking Congress for more money to fund Year 2000 fixes. However, he added, "It's important to monitor the resources and not to fund the government fix through a Year 2000 account."

Industry and members of Congress welcomed Clinton putting the Year 2000 problem near the top of his agenda but said Clinton may have acted too late to do any good. "The president is at last giving this issue the attention it deserves," Rep. Constance Morella (R-Md.) said. "I hope it is not too late."

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