Year 2000 Computing Challenge:
The District of Columbia Cannot Reliably Track Y2K Costs
T-AIMD-99-298: Published: Sep 24, 1999. Publicly Released: Sep 24, 1999.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the District of Columbia's financial management issues related to its year 2000 efforts, focusing on the: (1) funds provided and the District's reported expenditures to date; (2) District's ability to track its year 2000 costs; and (3) additional funding requested by the District.
GAO noted that: (1) the District is acutely vulnerable to year 2000 problems due to its widespread dependence on computer systems for delivering important public services; (2) if these problems are not solved before the end of the year, the District may be unable to effectively carry out its core business operations that ensure public safety, collect revenue, educate students, and provide health care services; (3) District officials are aware of the urgency of this task and have made several funding requests in order to have adequate resources to address it; (4) the District's records indicated that $97.8 million had been provided for year 2000 efforts as of September 20, 1999; (5) of the $97.8 million provided, $42.4 million had been spent and $53.8 million had been obligated, leaving available funds of $1.6 million; (6) these draft financial reports also showed disallowed costs of $12.5 million; (7) District officials told GAO that these disallowed costs resulted from recent reviews of amounts billed by contractors; (8) District officials said that they have had significant problems in tracking year 2000 costs and expenditures, which they attribute primarily to the frequent turnover in key financial positions; (9) GAO received inconsistent and unreliable cost data from several District officials and the cost schedules continued to change; (10) it was apparent that the District does not have reliable financial data to manage the year 2000 project costs; (11) the District was not tracking the year 2000 amounts obligated and spent and could not provide reliable, supportable data to GAO related to these amounts; (12) the District's difficulties in tracking its year 2000 costs make it impossible to determine whether its year 2000 funds were spent properly; (13) this situation also makes it difficult for the District to reasonably determine additional funds needed to meet its future year 2000 challenges; (14) the District has requested $90.7 million in additional funding from the Office of Management and Budget to complete its year 2000 efforts; (15) District officials stated that these additional funds would be used primarily for year 2000 remediation, testing, contingency planning, and additional resource requirements at the various District agencies; and (16) until the District can better track its costs and improve the reliability of its financial data, it cannot assure Congress that the additional funds requested will be spent as intended.