Government officials took to the weekend talk show circuit yesterday to explain away any doubts over whether the nation is ready to tackle potential problems caused by the so-called Year 2000 bug.
Repeating his familiar message from the last four months, John Koskinen, the White House's top gun on Y2K, said the date change should cause very few technology problems. Americans should make no more preparations for New Year's this year than they would for any long winter weekend, he added.
Koskinen's comments on ABC's "This Week" follow a string of announcements last week by various federal agencies that have declared an early victory over the millennium bug.
"Our goal has been to avoid overreaction," Koskinen said during the TV news program. "We would like people to be prepared for a long midwinter weekend, but we think that's all that's necessary."
Separately, Federal Aviation Administration head Jane Garvey confirmed her promise to fly to San Francisco on New Year's Eve in a show of confidence that the entire aviation industry is ready for the date change.
"We've tested [systems] from end to end. We're ready," she said.
However, some airlines may cancel international flights to countries that are not completely prepared for any possible Year 2000-related computer problems. Yet most overseas destinations that are heavily traveled by Americans won't be affected by the restriction, Garvey said.
Many executives in the private sector have shown similar confidence about Y2K compliance, as have government officials this week.
"I'm comfortably pleased with the progress made by the industry on this issue," Information Technology Association of America president Harris Miller told CNET News.com.
"As one of the first organizations to call attention to the Year 2000 problem back in the early 1990s, we saw our own industry fail to pay attention to the problem. But in the last two years or so the industry, customers and the government have risen to the occasion," Miller said.
Miller said that although he is worried about some possible Y2K-related glitches that could occur internationally, he doesn't predict any widespread problems that could disrupt the economy or major utilities.
"The worst case scenarios that we thought would happen early on won't happen," he said. "With small and medium-sized business, there will be some rare occurrences of problems but [it won't be] systematic. I think most organizations have made a lot of progress," he added.
In related news, the White House plans to hold a string of Y2K status briefings over the next few days for the Department of Health and Human Services and the telecommunications sector.
The Year 2000 problem, also known as the millennium bug, stems from an old programming shortcut that used only the last two digits of the year. Many computers now must be modified or they may mistake the year 2000 for the year 1900 and fail to function.