Year 2000 Computing Crisis:

Status of Bureau of Prisons' Year 2000 Efforts

AIMD-99-23: Published: Jan 27, 1999. Publicly Released: Jan 27, 1999.

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Jack L. Brock, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed how well the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is managing its year 2000 program, focusing on: (1) the status of the BOP's year 2000 program; and (2) recent actions it has taken to strengthen its management of the program and improve year 2000 assistance to state and local government institutions.

GAO noted that: (1) BOP has assessed, tested, and implemented its only mission-critical information technology (IT) system and reports that it is year 2000 compliant; (2) in addition, BOP reports that it has assessed, renovated/replaced, and implemented 94 percent of its 2,021 mission-critical non-IT systems; (3) for those that are not yet implemented, BOP plans to do so by March 1999; (4) during the course of GAO's review, BOP has acted to strengthen its year 2000 program management, including: (a) defining its year 2000 program structure and developing a year 2000 conversion plan; (b) expanding its year 2000 program scope to include its 250 contract facilities; (c) tracking the status of workstation testing and non-IT assessments; (d) hiring a contractor to validate the vendors' year 2000 compliance certifications for non-IT systems; and (e) directing all offices, including contract facilities, and institutions to review, revise as necessary, and test their emergency preparedness plans for consideration of the threat of external infrastructure and internal system failures; (5) however, BOP's outreach efforts to the state and local corrections community have not been proactive; (6) during the course of GAO's review, BOP updated the BOP and National Institute of Corrections (NIC) Internet sites to provide links to government and private sector year 2000 sites and identify BOP and NIC points of contact; and (7) however, this requires that state and local corrections officials come to BOP to obtain the information.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On March 1, 1999, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) informed the State Sheriffs Association and the State Department of Corrections of possible year 2000 problems beyond those related to computer software and hardware, such as embedded microchips in equipment like metal detectors, x-ray machines, and elevators, and encouraged officials to look into the compliance of such equipment. The letter also provided BOP's and the National Institute of Corrections' (NIC) Internet sites and the addresses to reach them, as well as contact phone numbers. In addition, BOP plans to do a limited number of follow-up phone calls to recipients of the letter to assess the usefulness of the mailings, and depending on the findings, modify the mailings to better meet the needs of the state and local officials. Also, BOP developed a document detailing best practices and lessons learned from BOP's work in dealing with the Y2K computing crisis and has posted this on its Internet site.

    Recommendation: To promote awareness and provide assistance to the state and local corrections community, the Director, Bureau of Prisons, should direct the year 2000 Program Manager to proactively identify organizations needing assistance and share BOP experiences and lessons learned. This could be done through established networks, such as the National Sheriff's Association and the National Association of Chiefs of Police.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice: Bureau of Prisons


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