Some Good News, Some Bad for States in OMB Y2K Report

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget last week issued its quarterly report on federal agency Year 2000 readiness, the first that included the state-by-state status of key federally supported, state-run programs.

For most part it is good news. States are focused on the issue and are making good progress, said Jack Gribben, a spokesman for the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion. But he added that the council has concerns about state programs that project late-year completion dates for their Year 2000 fixes.

The report details state-by-state target completion dates for 10 so-called high-impact programs, such as child welfare, Medicaid and food stamps, supported by the Agriculture Department, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Labor Department. The data was gathered by the three federal agencies from the states.

According to the data, a few states, such as Pennsylvania, Washington and New Mexico have completed or nearly completed Year 2000 testing for the 10 programs and deemed their systems compliant. Other states report target completion dates later this summer and fall.

But data for the report was collected three to six months ago, so it is unclear whether some states have since completed their testing or will not be able to meet their deadlines. In fact, the report includes some states with target completion dates that have passed and many states that have targeted this month for completion.

"That's a problem. The data becomes outdated the minute you collect it, Gribben said. Today, many states would say, 'That's where we were at that time,' but here's where we are now." Such is the case for many states for their child welfare, child support enforcement and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families programs, which are supported by HHS. While half to two-thirds of states have indicated they have completed testing on state-run programs supported by Labor and the USDA, many state-run HHS programs appear to be falling behind.

But Michael Kharfen, a HHS spokesman, said, "My early sense from the states that we've seen so far is that we are in good shape. Six months has been beneficial in greatly improving the status of their Y2K readiness. However, that doesn't lessen our urgency of continuing to make progress."

Kharfen said reviews of all states will be complete by early August.

Nevertheless, the council is encouraged by state efforts as it has been shifting its focus from federal agencies to state-run programs. "It is not going to do us any good if federal systems are compliant and the state systems that support the federal systems are not," Gribben said.

The report is available at the CIO Council's site at www.cio.gov/9thQuarterlyReport.pdf.

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