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U.S. cities tally price, work to fix bug

The estimated cost to bring the nation's cities into compliance for the Year 2000 problem will surpass $300 million, according to a study released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The estimated cost to bring the nation's cities into compliance for the Year 2000 technology problem will surpass $300 million, according to a study released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors at its winter meeting yesterday.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors asked 220 cities for information on the potential impact of Year 2000 computer problems on their operations, and on the status of their efforts to address the problems before January 1, 2000. All but three of the cities surveyed have populations of 30,000 or more.

See special report: Date with disaster The study, launched last November, found 97 percent of the cities have a citywide plan to address the Y2K issue, and for three out of four, that plan was developed by in-house staff rather than by consultants or by other agencies.

Asked how many of their computer applications would have to be repaired, 11 percent of the cities reported more than 100, another 11 percent said between 51 and 100, 33 percent said between 11 and 50, and 38 percent of the cities said ten or fewer. One percent reported that no computer applications need repair or replacement.

All of the cities have designated an individual who is responsible for directing and achieving Y2K compliance; in more than half of the cities, that individual is assigned to the information technology or management information systems agency within city government, according to the study.

Although the Conference of Mayors didn't survey every city in the nation, it was relatively pleased with the results, Chip Brown, a spokesman for the conference said.

The White House's Y2K czar John Koskinen spoke to the conference on Wednesday, praising efforts by those cities that are making headway against the Y2K glitch.

"We're pleased that they have done the study, and that a good majority of the cities studied have Y2K programs in place," said Koskinen's spokesman Jack Gribben. "However, 220 cities isn't every city in the country."

The cities that participated in the survey said emergency response was identified by 19 percent, or 42, of the cities as the No. 1 priority of the city's Y2K compliance efforts. Emergency response was followed by management information systems, identified by 17 percent of the cities.

Back to Year 2000 Index Page Compliance of the police department was identified by 11 percent of the cities, while utilities were highlighted by another 11 percent; taxation and finance by 10 percent; and water and waste treatment were identified by eight percent of the cities.

The survey also found that more than two-thirds of the cities said they were planning to conduct a citywide Y2K test, while 4 percent said the tests have already been conducted.

However, 19 percent, or 42 cities, said they are not planning to test their systems at all.

Gribben said that the survey was conducted by the same firm that conducted the last Y2K study for National Association of Counties, which surveyed 500 counties representing 46 states and found that only half had a countywide plan to address the Y2K issue.