GAO wants USDA to finish Y2K contingency plans sooner

The General Accounting Office has pushed the Agriculture Department to cut its deadline for completing and testing its Year 2000 business continuity and contingency plans by three months.

In a recently released report, the GAO said Agriculture's December deadline to finish testing "leaves no room for delays or sufficient time for correcting, revising and retesting plans if necessary."

December also falls after the beginning of the government's fiscal Year 2000, "when potential failures could have already occurred." As a result, the GAO recommended that the deadline to complete and test the plans should be Sept. 30.

GAO also recommended that USDA agencies and offices develop priorities for completing and testing their plans that coincide with the department's "highest-priority business processes," establish milestones to complete interim steps in drafting the plans that have not been addressed and report to the Agriculture secretary progress on meeting those milestones.

The Office of Management and Budget indicated that it is developing a process to coordinate work on business continuity and contingency plans across government and has informally notified agencies to be prepared to submit these plans to OMB by June, according to GAO.

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