Did we spend to much

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

WIRE:01/27/2000 18:10:00 ET U.S. funds to attack Y2K bug are well spent-experts WASHINGTON, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Top U.S. government and private-sector technology experts on Thursday defended the huge sums spent to "squash" the Year 2000 computer bug and warned Congress that glitches may crop up yet. "Did we spend too much?" asked Fernando Burbano, the State Department's chief information officer and head of an interagency panel on protecting critical U.S. systems.

"Absolutely not," he told a joint hearing of two House panels that monitored the $8.4 billion spent by the federal government to make sure systems would correctly interpret "00" as 2000, not 1900, and whir on.

"We should be careful not to confuse the lack of catastrophic disruptions with unnecessary preparations by the federal government," he said.

The Commerce Department estimated in November that combined U.S. private-sector and government Y2K upgrades would cost about $100 billion by next year, or about $365 for every man, woman and child in the United States.

President Bill Clinton's top Y2K adviser, John Koskinen, declared on Jan. 3 that "what has been referred to as the Y2K bug has been squashed with regard to the key infrastructure systems in the United States."

"To date, there have been no reports of serious Y2K-related problems that have affected trade between the United States and its major economic partners," he told the House Government Reform Committee and Science Committee sub-panels on Thursday.

Koskinen said the Y2K rollover had gone more smoothly "than any of us would have imagined" but dismissed second-guessers' claims that the threat had been greatly exaggerated all along.

Tackling a recurring question, he cited unspecified countries that appeared to have spent little on the problem and were considered relatively unprepared but that had emerged apparently unscathed from the change.

Koskinen said many such nations may have spent the bulk of their funds in a concentrated effort in the last six to nine months of 1999 and, unlike the United States, were not "saddled with old legacy systems built with antiquated, customised code by people who had long retired."

"The bottom lines is that the fixes were frequently more straightforward in those countries than in the U.S.," Koskinen added. Overall, the bug was beaten by a "tremendous mobilisation of people and resources," he said.

Charles Rossotti, commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, said in draft testimony that the U.S. tax collection agency had experienced a smoother Dec. 9 to Jan. 3 rollover with fewer glitches "than in a normal year."

But Rossotti, like other witnesses, warned against declaring total victory on Y2K, which could still boggle computers coping with the Feb. 29 Leap Day, end-of-quarter and end-of-year reporting periods.

"We are not out of the woods yet," said Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, which loosely links 26,000 corporations in the United States.

"If left uncorrected or corrected improperly, the Y2K bug would have proven troublesome at best and disastrous at worst," Miller said. He said Y2K-related upgrades would pay great dividends in "productivity, competency and understanding of technology."

Among glitches cited to illustrate Y2K pitfalls were a Defence Department spy satellite system hobbled by a glitch on the ground; failures of medical devices made by a Swedish company, double-charging snafus in credit card processing; a weather system shutdown in Chicago.

"While the popular perception surrounding Y2K conjured fears of a major and immediate meltdown, many knowledgeable observers have warned of the cumulative effect instead," Harris said. "As with everything else Y2K, only time will tell."


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), January 27, 2000


Too much of the rectangular-shaped stuff and not enough of the heart- shaped stuff.

-- Antoine (metis@2000now.org), January 27, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ