HHS completes successful Y2K test

The Department of Health and Human Services today declared several mission-critical computer systems ready for the Year 2000 date change, including systems affecting the nation's largest grant disbursement system, welfare and children's programs, and health services.

The announcement comes after the completion of a successful end-to-end test to verify that all the applicable federal and selected state, tribal and financial institution systems can work together to exchange data on Jan. 1 and beyond. It also follows warnings by Gary Christoph, the chief information officerof the Health Care Financing Administration, that he has "serious concerns"about whether the Medicare program can avoid Year 2000 problems [FCW WebExtra Oct. 4].

"Y2K preparedness is management job No. 1 at HHS," said Kevin Thurm, deputy secretary at HHS. "We are completing our testing with partners to be sure that information and dollar flow will be uninterrupted by the New Year's date change."

The HHS agencies that completed end-to-end testing include the Program Support Center, which is responsible for disbursing two-thirds of all annual federal grant funds; the Administration for Children and Families, which handles more than $35 billion in welfare and children's programs; and the Health Resources and Services Administration, which oversee more than $4 billion in programs covering health care delivery and health professionals support.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention completed end-to-end testing last month on its public health surveillance systems along with state health departments and other programs.

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