HUD mulls request for Year 2000 laws

Over the next few months, the Department of Housing and Urban Development may ask Congress for additional funds and legislation to ensure that HUD's local housing authorities and business partners are prepared for the Year 2000 date change, top agency officials said today.

Pending final testing of its computer systems and business processes, HUD reported it is prepared internally for Year 2000. The agency's main concern now is the lack of preparation and contingency planning by external partners, said HUD Deputy Secretary Saul Ramirez, testifying before the House Committee on Banking and Financial Services.

Several people within HUD are working to form requests for legislation to push the agency's partners to better address Year 2000 issues in time, Ramirez said. The requests are tentative, however, because HUD is afraid that penalizing those that do not comply will be counterproductive, he said.

Even though HUD has been working with local authorities for some time to raise awareness, many did not start working on Year 2000 fixes until this year, said HUD Inspector General Susan Gaffney. This means they do not have the time, and have not set aside the money, to do more than put in place quick contingency plans, she said.

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