USDA: Georgia, Maryland Push Y2K Fixes to the Edge

Georgia and Maryland have pushed the completion date for making some nutrition programs Year 2000-compliant all the way until December, leaving little room for error and, in one case, requiring federal assistance, according the U.S. Agriculture Department.

The Supplementary Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) in Georgia, and the Child Nutrition Program in Maryland, will not be Year 2000-ready until the last month of the year, said Shirley Watkins, undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services at the USDA, speaking to a joint hearing of the House Government Management, Information and Technology Subcommittee and the Technology Subcommittee.

Watkins said the Maryland system had experienced a failure during Year 2000 testing but has a manual system in place so that there will be "no disruptions" if another crash were to occur with the date change.

However, the Georgia WIC program continues to raise concern in the Food and Nutrition Services agency. "Progress reports from Georgia leave little, if any, room for error or time slippage," Watkins testified. "The [FNS] intends to send its contractor, [Science Applications International Corp.], to Georgia for a second time to provide assistance and support to the state agency and to independently verify and validate the state's contingency system."

Of the 162 state agencies that operate joint FNS/state programs, 139 are compliant or expected to be compliant by the end of September, and 21 expect to finish fixes by November, Watkins said.

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