FEMA Embarks on Y2K Roadshow

Concerned that local emergency preparedness offices have not sufficiently tested Year 2000 fixes, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced last week that it will soon begin an effort to educate state emergency management, fire and emergency services communities on Year 2000 planning and preparedness.

"Every community, every organization and every individual has an obligation to learn more about their vulnerabilities and take action to prevent potential problems before they occur. Potential problems need to be identified and addressed now," said FEMA deputy Director Mike Walker in a statement.

In February and March, FEMA will begin holding Y2K Consequence Management workshops to notify local emergency management services (EMS) offices of critical issues and Year 2000 vulnerabilities. Furthermore, FEMA will stress to local EMS staff the importance of contingency plans and policies they will need to kick in if systems should crash. FEMA reported that many states so far have failed to develop Year 2000 contingency plans. Instead, they are promising to have systems fixed, or they plan to handle situations under current emergency plans.

However, FEMA found some promising statistics included in a recent Year 2000 survey conducted by the National Association of State Information Resource Executives and the National Governors Association. With that December survey, the two associations reported that states have made a lot of progress recently on crucial date changes. Collectively, states have spent almost $3.5 billion on system renovations, and every state has designated a Year 2000 coordinator.

President Clinton's Council on Year 2000 Conversion also released last week results from the "First Quarterly Summary of Assessment Information" on the nation's Year 2000 efforts. The report concluded that on most federal-state programs -- such as Medicaid and food stamps -- data-exchange points have been identified. Three states, however, have not yet provided information on the status of their data-exchange activities. Year 2000 czar John Koskinen last fall was running out of patience with lagging states and vowed to begin exposing those that have fallen behind in efforts to secure federal-state interfaces.

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