OMB exec says emergency funds from appropriations bills won't help Y2K fix

A top Office of Management and Budget official told a congressional subcommittee today that attempts to strip Year 2000 emergency funding from appropriations bills would "not help agencies move forward" in fixing the millennium bug.

"This regrettable action will not help agencies move forward in addressing this problem," said Edward DeSeve, acting deputy director for management at OMB.

On June 23, members of the House Rules Committee are expected to propose stripping from House and Senate appropriations bills "the emergency funding mechanisms" that seek to set aside $2.25 billion in emergency money for the Year 2000, according to DeSeve, who testified today before the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology.

Conservatives on Capitol Hill have taken aim in recent weeks at emergency-spending proposals, claiming that they are inconsistent with a balanced-budget approach to federal spending. But Rep. Steve Horn (R-Calif.), chairman of the subcommittee, said House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) is committed to helping agencies fix the Year 2000 problem and would not deny agencies the money they need to fix the problem. "We don't intend to deny you one penny," Horn told DeSeve. "You're going to get every dime you need."

Fixing the federal Year 2000 problem from fiscal 1996 through fiscal 2000 is expected to cost close to $5 billion, according to OMB estimates, and President Clinton has requested more than $1 billion in the fiscal 1999 budget for the Year 2000 problem. But observers expect estimates to increase as the Year 2000 draws near, as the glitch is discovered in more systems and embedded computer chips, and as the cost of labor increases.

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