Year 2000 Computing Crisis:

The District of Columbia Remains Behind Schedule

T-AIMD-99-84: Published: Feb 19, 1999. Publicly Released: Feb 19, 1999.

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Jack L. Brock, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the challenges facing the District of Columbia in addressing the year 2000 problem, focusing on: (1) the District of Columbia's progress in fixing its information systems; and (2) the risks it now faces.

GAO noted that: (1) the District Year 2000 Program Office has established an orderly process for addressing the year 2000 problem and has been working hard to develop an understanding of its core business processes and supporting information systems; (2) the Year 2000 Program Manager holds weekly meetings to review deviations from schedule baselines and to monitor the overall program status; (3) additionally, the Program Office recently began preparing year 2000 report cards for all systems included in the District year 2000 effort; (4) these report cards, which are provided to each agency, summarize the progress being made on each system; (5) the District's recent actions reflect a commitment to protect its key business processes from year 2000 failure; (6) however, its schedule for fulfilling this commitment is highly compressed and moves through four phases of the year 2000 process in less than one year-assessment by the end of February, renovation and contingency planning by the end of September, and system validation by the end of October; (7) the District remains over one year behind GAO's recommended schedule and is just now transitioning from the assessment to the renovation phase of the year 2000 conversion model; (8) according to the District's Year 2000 Program Manager, at this time, the District has only renovated about 5 percent of its mission-critical systems, with less than 1 percent of its mission-critical systems completing validation; (9) further, only one of the District's over 200 mission-critical systems, which is responsible for paying District employees and pensioners, has been through the entire conversion process and is now implemented; (10) only six business continuity plans--such as the plan for documenting the manual registering of students for the University of the District of Columbia' student enrollment process--have been finalized; (11) it will be difficult for the District to adequately compensate for its late start in initiating effective action on the year 2000 challenge; and (12) given the District's compressed year 2000 schedule--which allows no margin for error--and to have a reasonable chance of avoiding serious disruption to public services, it must be well prepared for likely project delays and failures of mission-critical systems.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Recognizing the risk associated with its Y2K schedule, the District implemented a well-defined business continuity and contingency planning effort for its core business processes.

    Recommendation: The District's schedule for year 2000 compliance offers little opportunity for further compression, no margin for error, and little room for corrective action if test results show continued problems with mission-critical systems. To partially compensate, the District should place increased emphasis on: (1) completing business continuity and contingency plans as early as possible to allow time for testing and funding; and (2) ensuring that contingency plans and priorities are updated to reflect information that becomes available as the year 2000 project progresses, including new risk assessments based on the successes and failures encountered in the validation phase of the project.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The District of Columbia has demonstrated top-level commitment to its year 2000 problem. Beginning in June 1999, the District began holding regular meetings of its top-level Year 2000 Executive Committee; meeting twice-a-month, this Committee includes the District's Mayor, Superintendent of Schools, Chief of Police, and Chief Technology Officer, as well as a representative from the city's Steering Committee on Government Operations. These meetings are to continue through the end of January, 2000. Additionally, the District has requested and received supplemental Year 2000 funding from the federal government totaling $68.1 million, requested an additional $68.9 million, and put an expedited contracting process in place to ensure that year 2000 procurements can proceed without delay.

    Recommendation: Efforts to address the year 2000 problem must have continued top-level attention, commitment, and input from key stakeholders (including the Mayor, department and agency heads, and the Control Board) who own the year 2000 process. These stakeholders must: (1) participate in making critical decisions throughout the remainder of the project; (2) continue to provide resources and support for the program; and (3) take action necessary to eliminate obstacles that could reduce the Year 2000 Program Office's chances of successfully executing its project plan.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia


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