Smaller Communities Weak Link in Y2K Chain

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Identifying the nation's smaller communities and local governments as possibly the weakest link in the chain of Year 2000 awareness, President Clinton's Year 2000 czar, John Koskinen, today unveiled plans for a summer campaign to promote awareness at that level.

Specifically, Koskinen pledged to release in May a World Wide Web "toolkit" of best practices for communities to use as they near the millennial date change. Then, in early June, the White House's Year 2000 office will begin traveling to communities to promote town hall-like meetings that will bring together local officials, citizens and service providers for discussions on potential Year 2000 failures.

Koskinen said in an interview that the idea grew out of a series of notable community campaigns to cushion the blow that citizens might take if some systems fail to successfully roll over. Koskinen recognized Norfolk, Neb.; Columbus, Ohio; and Montgomery Co., Md.; as leaders in Year 2000 outreach. Koskinen announced the campaign at Metropolitan Council of Governments' "Y2K Contingency Planning and Business Continuity Forum."

"We will encourage communities to bring in principals from hospitals, emergency response services the local banking communities and other services and to engage with the public in a dialogue about what to expect," Koskinen said. "My goal is to have the public know as much about this issue as I know."

Not all communities will deal with Year 2000 outreach in the same way, nor will the White House prescribe solutions, Koskinen said. "In some cases, local governments will take the lead, in some cases it might be a local newspaper; and in other cases it might be a service provider like the power company," Koskinen continued. "This will be a national campaign with national leadership, but it will also be a local campaign with local leadership."

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