OMB report: Feds must shore up state Y2K efforts

The Clinton administration is requiring federal agencies to take the lead role in working with states to ensure that social service programs are uninterrupted by Year 2000 computer problems.

The Office of Management and Budget spelled out the new role in its eighth quarterly Year 2000 report, which is the final report that will be released before the governmentwide March 31 deadline to have all major federal systems compliant.

Although federal agencies are getting close to making their mission-critical systems Year 2000-compliant, the administration is worried that social service programs could be interrupted because of Year 2000 problems with state computers that feed data to federal systems.

Agencies must work with state partners to develop a plan for testing the state/federal data exchanges that support 40 major federal programs, such as food stamps and unemployment insurance, and they must develop plans for continuing services even if systems fail. The agencies have a Sept. 30 deadline to develop contingency plans.

"OMB will be shifting its focus to look at the overall readiness of high-impact federal programs," said Ed DeSeve, OMB's deputy director for management. "We are committed to continuing our work with the states, and with our private-sector partners for service delivery, especially in areas where they are projecting late 1999 target dates for completion of Y2K work."

According to the OMB report, 79 percent of the federal government's 6,399 mission- critical systems are fully compliant, up from 61 percent in December. By March 31, the Clinton administration expects more than 90 percent of the major systems will be compliant.

Only three agencies remain on the critical list and still are not making adequate progress, according to the report. The agencies are the departments of Transportation and Health and Human Services and U.S. Agency for International Development.

On the other hand, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Small Business Administration and the Social Security Administration have reported that all their mission-critical systems are compliant.

OMB reported that eight agencies are making progress but are still on the watch list: the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Justice, Labor, State and Treasury.

The remaining 13 agencies, which include the five that completed their Year 2000 work, are making adequate progress and report that they are complete or close to completing their work on mission-critical systems.

"I am confident that over 90 percent of the government's mission-critical systems will meet the March 31 goal,'' DeSeve said.

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