Three states deem systems Y2K-compliant

Only three states -- Iowa, Nebraska and North Dakota -- have fully tested their computer systems and deemed them Year 2000-compliant, according to testimony presented at a congressional hearing on Saturday.

Joel Willemssen, director of Civil Agencies Information Systems at the U.S. General Accounting Office, told a House panel that the three states have vouched that they are ready for the date change.

Other states are in various stages of preparation, with 14 saying that they don't plan to have systems tested until October or after, according to survey results reported by Willemssen. He cited a report released Aug. 3 to the National Association of State Information Resource Executives that found 38 states have finished testing 75 percent to 99 percent of computer systems.

Willemssen testified Saturday before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology during a hearing in Silicon Valley, which was also attended by various information technology company executives.

Willemssen's testimony outlined past GAO findings related to year 2000 preparations and planning and offered a compilation of other recent surveys, including one finding that only three of 50 U.S. states have fully tested computer systems and deemed them compliant.

Willemssen further outlined progress by local governments, including the status of major U.S. cities, and he provided an overview of what is happening with various federal agencies and cabinet departments. Accurately assessing progress remains difficult because information often is incomplete, he noted. That has been a persistent problem for GAO and other agencies overseeing progress.

"In summary, while improvement has been shown, much work remains at the national, federal, state and local levels to ensure that major service disruptions do not occur," he said in the written statement. "Specifically, remediation must be completed, end-to-end testing performed, and business continuity and contingency plans developed."

Besides Willemssen's testimony, the subcommittee also heard from representatives of IT companies, including Intel Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. Those officials said that their companies are ready for the date change, according to published reports.

The subcommittee is headed by U.S. Rep. Stephen Horn, a California Republican, who each quarter issues a report card grading the federal government's progress in year 2000 remediation. The most recent report card gave the government a "B-" and said that 94 percent of mission-critical systems are ready for the date change.

-- By Nancy Weil, IDG News Service, Boston Bureau

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