Council's site offers Y2K info

The President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion this summer unveiled a World Wide Web site that agencies can use to learn more about the Year 2000 problem.

The site, at www.y2k.gov/java/index.htm, is updated as information on the Year 2000 problem becomes available. Those interested in how the government is handling the Year 2000 problem can find some helpful information. The site defines the council's mission to coordinate the federal government's efforts to address the Year 2000 computer glitch in both the private and public sectors. In addition, users can find answers to the latest rumors about the Year 2000 problem, read frequently asked Year 2000 questions and learn how various states are addressing the millennium bug.

On the first page, an upbeat quote from President Clinton on the Year 2000 problem is prominently displayed: "If we act properly, we won't look back on [the Year 2000 problem] as a headache, sort of the last failed challenge of the 20th century," Clinton said in a speech July 14. "It will be the first challenge of the 21st century successfully met."

Along the left margin are links to five sections that give users an in-depth look at the Year 2000 problem. For example, the What's New category offers the Y2K Job Bank, a Labor Department list of Year 2000 jobs.

Also, What's New offers a section called Recent Rumors, where the site's creators dispel Year 2000 myths. One week, the featured question will be, "Will the Federal Aviation Administration ground airplanes a week before Jan. 1, 2000?"

The answer to the question is: "That's not true," said Jack Gribben, the spokesman for the council, which is part of the Office of Management and Budget.

Last week's featured rumor dispelled rumors that pacemakers may malfunction. "While computer software frequently is embedded as a component of pacemakers, this software does not use date information in the operation of the pacemaker itself," the site reported. "None of the implanted devices require knowledge of, nor do they use, the current date to operate safely and effectively."

Another category on the patriotic-looking Web site, About Y2K and the Council, explains that the council was established Feb. 4 and is composed of representatives from more than 30 major federal executive and regulatory agencies.

Within this category, users also can find out what states are doing to address the Year 2000 problem. Florida, for example, has a checklist— test, evaluate, contingency plan— for government agencies to use in preparing for the next millennium. The site provides links to Year 2000 information in the 47 states that have home pages.

"People need to know what the problem is, how they can address it, and what governments and businesses are doing to ensure that their critical systems are ready for the new millennium,'' said John Koskinen, chairman of the Council. "We are trying to create working relationships. We want this to be a user-friendly directory.''

The site also offers information on how 22 agencies, including the departments of Defense and Transportation, are addressing the Year 2000 problem. For example, the FAA created a Year 2000 Program Office to oversee all Year 2000 repair efforts throughout the agency.

"The Web page is a work in progress,'' Gribben said. "This isn't a finished product. We want to get more information on the page about consumer products [and] how they might or might not be affected."

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