Thompson Asks Feds to Make Year 2000 Computer Problem a Top Priority

Washington, DC — Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) today called on the Administration to make readiness for the Year 2000 computer problem, better known as “Y2K,” a top priority at federal agencies.

“In 1993, the Administration conducted a performance review of every agency, claiming that this exercise would make agencies work better and cost less,” Senator Thompson said. “But they forgot to ask agencies if they were addressing the year 2000 computer problem. Congress is responsible for warning our constituents about what to expect on January 1, 2000. But it’s the responsibility of the Administration to make sure federal agencies are ready for the next century.

“Congress has been working toward exposing Y2K risks for both the private and public sectors for almost five years. Yet it is becoming more likely that computers at many federal agencies won’t be updated to recognize the year 2000. Compliance must become a top priority. Time is running out,” Senator Thompson added.

The Governmental Affairs Committee has been conducting oversight of the number of agencies which have been able to meet the critical Y2K milestones for federal agencies set by the President in order to be Y2K compliant as of January 1, 2000.

“Recently President Clinton announced that one agency, the Social Security Administration, was fully Y2K compliant,” said Senator Thompson. “Since this time, we have been waiting to hear from all of the other agencies on their ability to meet this same goal. According to the government-wide Y2K guidance plan, the final milestone for all agencies to have their computer systems and other date dependent products fixed is March 31, 1999. I will be waiting to hear from the agencies on their efforts to meet this Y2K deadline.”

In the 105th Congress, the Governmental Affairs Committee held a series of hearings which addressed the Y2K problem at federal agencies such as IRS, the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Transportation. In a joint hearing with the Appropriations Committee, Senator Thompson also called for high risk areas including Y2K to be addressed in strategic plans required by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA).

In addition to continuing to track the progress of Y2K repairs, the Governmental Affairs Committee is working with agency Inspectors General, agency Chief Information Officers, the General Accounting Office, and the Office of Management and Budget to ensure Y2K compliance.