Year 2000 Computing Crisis:

The District of Columbia Faces Tremendous Challenges in Ensuring Vital Services Are Not Disrupted

T-AIMD-99-4: Published: Oct 2, 1998. Publicly Released: Oct 2, 1998.

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GAO discussed the year 2000 risks facing the District of Columbia, focusing on: (1) its progress to date in fixing its systems; and (2) the District's remediation strategy.

GAO noted that: (1) until June 1998, the District had made very little progress in addressing the year 2000 problem; (2) to compensate for its late start, the District has hired a new chief technology officer, appointed a full-time year 2000 program manager, established a year 2000 program office, and continued to use its chief technology officer council to help coordinate and prioritize efforts; (3) the District also contracted with an information technology firm to assist in completing the remediation effort; (4) to accomplish this in the short time remaining, the District and the contractor plan to concurrently: (a) remediate and test system applications; (b) assess and fix the information technology (IT) infrastructure, including the data centers, hardware, operating systems, and telecommunications equipment; (c) assess and correct noninformation technology assets; and (d) develop contingency plans; (5) the District has done the following: (a) developed an inventory of information technology applications; (b) initiated pilot remediation and test efforts with the pension and payroll system; (c) adopted a contingency planning methodology which it is now piloting on the 911 system, the water and sewer system, and the lottery board system; and (d) developed a strategy for remediating non-IT assets which is now being tested on the water and sewer system; (6) the District's recent actions reflect a commitment on the part of the city to address the year 2000 problem and to make up for the lack of progress; (7) however, the District is still significantly behind in addressing the problem; (8) the District has not: (a) identified all of its essential business functions that must continue to operate; (b) finished assessing its IT infrastructure and its non-information technology assets; (c) provided guidance to its agencies on testing; and (d) identified resources that will be needed to complete remediation and testing; (9) until the District completes the assessment phase, it will not have reliable estimates on how long it will take to renovate and test mission-critical systems and processes and to develop business continuity and contingency plans; (10) District officials acknowledge that the city is not able to provide assurance that all critical systems will be remediated on time; and (11) therefore, to minimize disruptions to vital city services, it will be essential for the District to effectively manage risks over the next 15 months.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The District of Columbia identified its top 18 priority agencies and has identified and ranked 75 core business processes and over 200 supporting mission-critical systems. Using this analysis of core processes and systems priorities, the District developed a project plan specifying when mission critical systems will be renovated, tested, and implemented. Continuity of operations and contingency planning for core business processes began in December 1998.

    Recommendation: The District of Columbia, in parallel with its current year 2000 efforts, should identify and rank the most critical business operations and systems by October 31, 1998. The District should use this ranking to determine by November 30, 1998, the priority in which supporting systems will be renovated and tested. Continuity of operations and contingency plans for these processes and systems should also be initiated at this time if such action is not already under way.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As part of its year 2000 assessment process, the District conducted an outreach effort with surrounding governments. In this regard, the District's program included: (1) coordinating with the area's Metropolitan Council of Governments, (2) holding joint contingency planning exercises with local governments, and (3) working with the governments of 10 large U.S. cities to gain insight into intergovernmental dependencies. The District conducted and completed its remediation efforts and little impact was felt as a consequence of the century date change.

    Recommendation: Because of the dependencies between the District and the surrounding local and federal government entities, the District will need to work closely with those bodies to both identify and prepare appropriate remedial steps and contingency plans to accommodate those dependencies. The District of Columbia should immediately develop an outreach program to first identify its dependencies and then determine the remediation required to minimize the risk of year 2000 failure.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia


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