Emergency and State and Local Law Enforcement Systems:

Committee Questions Concerning Year 2000 Challenges

AIMD-99-247R: Published: Jul 14, 1999. Publicly Released: Jul 14, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the challenges facing emergency services and state and local law enforcement systems in addressing the year 2000 computing problem. This report responds to congressional questions regarding GAO's April 29, 1999, testimony on the year 2000 readiness status of the nation's law enforcement systems.

GAO noted that: (1) the status of the ability of the Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) efforts to ensure that they can effectively process 911 calls has become more clear since GAO's testimony; (2) the Network Reliability and Interoperability Council reports that major local telephone companies have taken action to ensure that the PSAP systems they provide to their customers have been remediated; (3) since the time of GAO's testimony, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have worked to increase the response rate to the public safety organization year 2000 readiness survey conducted by FEMA and the National Emergency Number Association; (4) as of June 30, 1999, of the over 2,200 sites responding, 37 percent reported that they were ready for the year 2000; (5) another 55 percent of those responding reported they would be year 2000 compliant in time for the millennium; (6) the business continuity and contingency planning process focuses on reducing the risk of year 2000-induced business failures and on safeguarding an organization's ability to produce a minimum acceptable level of service in the event of failures of mission-critical information systems; (7) falling back to disseminating 911 calls without today's level of automation is a viable contingency plan, to which there is no feasible alternative, for the three 911 sites that GAO visited; (8) DOJ's outreach activities have been ad hoc in large part because DOJ lacks a formal outreach program with stated goals and defined strategies for proactively reaching out to state and local law enforcement entities; (9) since many of DOJ's components have the same law enforcement counterparts at the state and local level, the department's efforts could be more effective if the department centrally defined and implemented a clear strategy, with measurable goals, objectives, and timeframes, and targeted activities that were assigned to specific bureaus and were aimed at expediting the year 2000 efforts of late starters; (10) according to the Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Information Resources Management, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently completed a survey of the 50 states to assess their readiness to send and receive transactions with National Crime Information Center 2000 and is in the process of summarizing the results; and (11) the FBI could use this information to target those state and local law enforcement agencies most at risk of not being year 2000 compliant and develop appropriate strategies and contingency plans to respond to the risks.

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