Year 2000 Computing Challenge:

Delivery of Key Benefits Hinges on States' Achieving Compliance

T-AIMD/GGD-99-221: Published: Jun 23, 1999. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 1999.

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Joel C. Willemssen
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the year 2000 challenge facing state and local governments, focusing on: (1) the reported year 2000 readiness of state and local governments and actions taken by the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion in this area; (2) the readiness and federal activities associated with state-administered federal programs; and (3) GAO's observations on H.R. 1599, the Year 2000 Compliance Assistance Act.

GAO noted that: (1) available information on the year 2000 readiness of state and local governments indicates that much work remains; (2) the successful completion of the year 2000 efforts of these governments is essential, since they perform critical functions in areas such as public safety and benefits payments; (3) according to information on 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; (4) 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 and 74 percent; and (c) 30 states reported completing 75 percent or more; (5) all of the states responding to the National Association of State Information Resource Executives survey reported that they are actively engaged in internal and external contingency planning and that they had established target dates for the completion of these plans; 14 (28 percent) reported the deadline as October 1999 or later; (6) state audit organizations have also identified significant year 2000 concerns; (7) in January 1999, the National State Auditors Association reported on the results of its mid-1998 survey of year 2000 compliance among states; (8) for the 12 state audit organizations that provided year 2000-related reports, concerns had been raised in areas such as planning, testing, embedded systems, business continuity and contingency planning, and the adequacy of resources to address the problem; (9) GAO identified additional products by 14 state-level audit organizations and Guam that discussed the year 2000 problem and that had been issued since October 1, 1998; (10) several of these state-level audit organizations noted that progress had been made; (11) however, the audit organizations also expressed concerns that were consistent with those reported by the National State Auditors Association; (12) recognizing the seriousness of the year 2000 risks facing state and local governments, the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion has developed initiatives to address the year 2000 readiness of state and local governments; (13) among the critical functions performed by states are the administration of federal human services programs; and (14) as GAO reported in November 1998, many systems that support state-administered federal human services programs were at risk and much work remained to ensure that services would continue.

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