Year 2000 Computing Challenge:

Important Progress Made, Yet Much Work Remains to Avoid Disruption of Critical Services

T-AIMD-99-234: Published: Jul 9, 1999. Publicly Released: Jul 9, 1999.

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Joel C. Willemssen
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the progress being made in addressing the year 2000 computing challenge, focusing on: (1) the federal government's progress and the challenges that remain in correcting its systems; (2) state and local government year 2000 issues; and (3) the readiness of key public infrastructure and economic sectors.

GAO noted that: (1) the public faces the risk that critical services provided by the government and the private sector could be severely disrupted by the year 2000 computing problem; (2) to meet this challenge and monitor individual agency efforts, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed the major departments and agencies to submit quarterly reports on their progress; (3) the federal government's most recent reports show improvement in addressing the year 2000 problem; (4) while much work remains, the federal government has significantly increased its percentage of mission-critical systems that are reported to be year 2000 compliant; (5) while this progress is notable, OMB reported that 10 agencies have mission-critical systems that were not yet compliant; (6) while the overall year 2000 readiness of the government has improved, GAO's reviews of agency year 2000 programs have found uneven progress; (7) some agencies are significantly behind schedule and are at high risk that they will not fix their systems in time; (8) other agencies have made progress, although risks continue and a great deal of work remains; (9) on March 31, 1999, OMB and the Chair of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion announced that one of the key priorities that federal agencies will be pursuing during the rest of 1999 will be cooperative end-to-end testing to demonstrate the year 2000 readiness of federal programs with states and other partners; (10) on January 26, 1999, OMB called on federal agencies to identify and report on the high-level core business functions that are to be addressed in their business and continuity plans; (11) according to an OMB official, OMB has received almost all of the agency plans and it will report on the plans' status in its next quarterly report; (12) according to information on state year 2000 activities reported to the National Association of State Information Resource Executives as of June 17, 1999, states reported having thousands of mission-critical systems; (13) with respect to completing the implementation phase for these systems: (a) 5 states reported that they had completed between 25 and 49 percent; (b) 13 states reported completing between 50 percent and 74 percent; and (c) 30 states reported completing 75 percent or more; (14) beyond the risks faced by federal, state, and local governments, the year 2000 also poses a serious challenge to the public infrastructure, key economic sectors, and to other countries; and (15) the Council reported that the nation's key economic sectors had made substantial progress in addressing the year 2000 problem, but that there was still much work to be done.

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