Biggest Y2K costs behind U.S.

Government agencies and businesses in the United States will wind up spending about $100 billion to identify and fix systems to make them Year 2000-compliant, according to a report released by the Commerce Department today.

According to the report, "The Economics of Y2K and the Impact on the United States," from 1995 to 2001 agencies and companies will have spent about $100 billion on the Year 2000 computer problem. That's the equivalent of about $365 per American. Spending peaked last year at about $32 billion.

The report also concluded that the Year 2000 problem will not have a significant or long-term impact on U.S. economic growth. But date-change disruptions that occur in some small and medium-size businesses could cause economic loss in local areas, the report found.

"The greatest cost to our economy is behind us. Obviously businesses and government heard the warnings loud and clear," Commerce Secretary William Daley said today. Most companies "put full resources into hunting down a problem, when frankly every [chief executive officer] in the country would have rather put the billions into new products and improving their productivity."

With the Year 2000 problem behind them, companies will be able to focus personnel and money on creating new products and services, Daley added.

John Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, said the report is important because it provides a strong factual basis to help evaluate the impact of the Year 2000 problem.

Still, some date-change glitches are inevitable, Daley said, "so everybody needs to be prepared."

The report is available on the Commerce Department Web site at cher.eda.doc.gov/agencies/esa/index.html.

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