Y2K may be model for defense

The United States needs to develop a comprehensive strategy for protecting the country from a wide range of threats—including cyberattacks and terrorism —and could learn from the Year 2000 computer problem, according to the General Accounting Office.

In congressional testimony delivered Sept. 21 before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, U.S. Comptroller General David Walker warned that the United States does not have a comprehensive strategy for protecting the country. He said the government can learn from the strategies devised to deal with the Year 2000 problem, in which information technology systems around the world were expected to experience serious disruptions because of the date change from 1999 to 2000.

"The Y2K task force approach may offer a model for developing the public/private partnerships necessary under a comprehensive homeland security strategy," Walker said. "A massive mobilization with federal government leadership was undertaken in connection with Y2K, which included partnerships with the private sector and international governments and effective communication to complement any needed corrections.

"Developing a homeland security plan may require a similar level of leadership, oversight and partnerships with nearly every segment of American society—including individual U.S. citizens—as well as with the international community," he said.

Walker also said that while terrorism is one part of homeland defense, the threat is much broader and could include cyberattacks on our critical infrastructure.

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