Curtis tapped for Y2K post

The Defense Department has set up a high-level Year 2000 oversight office and last week named William Curtis, a former deputy director for procurement and logistics at the Defense Information Systems Agency, to head it.

Curtis, with 33 years of federal service, including a tour in Vietnam as an Army Airborne Ranger, called the mammoth effort to fix the Year 2000 problem "the first real war of the Information Age, and they need an infantryman to run it." He added that he "wanted this job; it's the opportunity I have been looking for for 33 years."

A recently released Defense Science Board interim report on the Year 2000 problem called for the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and technology to appoint a full-time executive to oversee DOD's management of the Year 2000 fix. A DOD spokeswoman said the Pentagon believes that the new Year 2000 oversight office will satisfy the DSB recommendations, adding that John Hamre, the deputy secretary of Defense, will still have the ''ultimate responsibility'' for the Year 2000.

The report also recommended that DOD establish a so-called escape valve fund in the fiscal 1999 budget to address special needs and that the Office of the Secretary of Defense establish incentives for program managers to encourage completion of Year 2000 fixes.

Hamre said last week that he disagreed with the report's recommendation for an escape valve fund. "This is something you've got to budget for; it's your system, and you've got to fix it."

Curtis said he was too new in the job to provide any specifics of his mandate or his proposed solutions for fixing the date code in DOD information systems before Jan. 1, 2000.

In a related development, the Navy has selected Rear Adm. Steve Johnson, commander of the Naval Information Systems Management Center, as its Year 2000 program manager, according to Ann Miller, the Navy's new chief information officer.

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