Year 2000 Computing Challenge:

Federal Government Making Progress But Critical Issues Must Still Be Addressed to Minimize Disruptions

T-AIMD-99-144: Published: Apr 14, 1999. Publicly Released: Apr 14, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the remaining year 2000 computing challenges facing the federal government, focusing on the: (1) actions that the federal government has taken to improve its year 2000 approach; (2) status of the federal government's remediation of its mission-critical systems, with a particular focus on those that are not yet compliant; (3) reported status of state-administered federal programs; and (4) remaining challenges facing the government in ensuring the continuity of business operations, namely end-to-end testing and contingency planning.

GAO noted that: (1) since February 1997, action taken to address the year 2000 threat has intensified; (2) in response to a growing recognition of the challenge and urging from congressional leaders and others, the administration strengthened the government's year 2000 preparation; (3) in February 1998, the President took a major step in establishing the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion; (4) the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has taken more aggressive action on year 2000 matters over the past year and a half and has been responsive to GAO's recommendations; (5) OMB's most recent reports show improvement in addressing the year 2000 problem; (6) many key tasks, however, remain to be completed to ensure the continuity of critical services; (7) end-to-end testing and business continuity and contingency planning are not yet complete and, in some cases, are in the beginning stages; (8) not all of the systems reported as compliant have completed an independent verification and validation process; (9) in some cases, independent verification and validation of compliant systems have found serious problems; (10) the Federal Aviation Administration has identified 26 of its mission-critical systems as posing the greatest risk to the National Airspace System should its year 2000 repairs experience schedule delays or should the systems not be operational on January 1, 2000; (11) the Health Care Financing Administration relies on 78 external mission-critical systems operated by contractors throughout the country to process Medicare claims; (12) the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that 23 of these external mission-critical systems were not deemed year 2000 compliant as of March 31, 1999; (13) according to an official at the Coast Guard, three mission-critical systems used in maritime search and rescue missions did not meet the March 1999 implementation goal; (14) HHS reported that the Indian Health Service's Resource and Patient Management System is scheduled to be compliant by June 30, 1999; (15) GAO testified that while the Department of Defense had recently made progress by providing the controls and guidance needed to fix and test systems, it was behind schedule; (16) one federal system that did not make the March implementation target is critical to the implementation of several federal human services programs; and (17) this system, HHS's Payment Management System, processes billions of dollars in grant payments to states and other recipient organizations for vital programs.

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