Letters to the Editor

Working Together

I appreciate your publication's interest in the administration's effort to address the Year 2000 problem and therefore was disappointed to read your March 23 editorial, "Legislation not Year 2000 solution," which mischaracterized my suggestion that there may be a need for future, agency-specific contractor legislation as a possible attempt by the federal government to assign blame to contractors for Year 2000-related system failures. Not only is this incorrect, it does not help to encourage a joint solution to this important management challenge.

I have made it clear that agencies have advised me that...they have received excellent cooperation from their contractors in addressing the Year 2000 problem. The president recently signed narrowly focused legislation— which extends to the Office of Thrift Supervision and the National Credit Union Administration statutory authority— to examine the operations of contractors that perform services for thrifts and credit unions to ensure that those contractors are making progress on their Year 2000 efforts. The alternative— not knowing the full extent to which the deposits of thrift and credit union customers may be at risk— was unacceptable.

I believe that, in some instances, we may need similar legislation for other agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services, that rely heavily on outside contractors. Where agencies such as HHS are confronted with legislative obstacles to their ability to ascertain their contractors' Year 2000 readiness, new legislation doesn't assign blame.

If massive federal system failures occur on Jan. 1, 2000, we will be held accountable for our actions. Therefore, we will be far more productive if we spend the remaining time working together— extending a hand, not pointing a finger.

John A. Koskinen

Assistant to the President and Chairman

President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion

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