The U.S. Agency for International Development, the Health and Human Services Department, and the Transportation Department "are not making adequate progress" toward their deadline at the end of this month, the Office of Management and Budget wrote in its eighth quarterly report on the progress of the federal government to rid its computer systems of the Year 2000 technology problem.
"The agencies continue to make significant strides toward meeting the March 31 government-wide goal for the Year 2000 compliance of mission critical systems," said G. Edward Deseve, the OMB's deputy director of management. "Data received from the agencies as of February 12, 1999, indicate that 79 percent of the government's mission critical systems are now Year 2000 compliant, up from 61 percent the previous quarter."
Five agencies--the Environmental Protection Agency, the Social Security Administration, the Small Business Administration, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the National Science Foundation--report that their mission-critical systems are now 100 percent compliant.
Thirteen agencies have achieved OMB's most favorable rating, or tier 3, and the departments of Defense, Energy, and State have made enough progress to move out of OMB's tier 1 category--those agencies making inadequate progress.
"I am confident that over 90 percent of the government's mission critical systems will meet the March 31 goal," Deseve said. OMB will be "working with the agencies on business continuity and contingency plans to avert disruptions in the event of system failures or malfunctions."
The so-called millennium bug refers to the fact that many computers are programmed to register only the last two digits of the year, meaning that "2000" may be read as "1900." If left uncorrected, such programs could generate errors and scramble the computers that companies use to keep track of customers, run their payrolls, handle their accounts, run elevators, and monitor air traffic, some experts warn.
Unlike in previous quarters when the government has raised--by at least a billion--the estimated cost to wipe out Y2K from agency systems, this most recent report found that agencies now estimate they will spend $6.8 billion to fix the problem, only a slight increase from the February estimate of $6.4 billion.