"We have found that the government's mission-critical systems are 94 percent compliant--up from 79 percent in February. Good progress has been made, but there are still critical systems to fix," said Rep. Stephen Horn (R-California), Chairman Subcommittee on Government Management, Information, and Technology, in a statement.
"The FAA's Air Traffic Control System is not Year 2000 compliant. Nor is the Health and Human Service Department's Payment Management System ready. Each year, this computer system processes nearly $165 billion in payments and grant programs, such as Medicaid," Horn said.
This is the subcommittee's eighth report card on the Year 2000 progress of the largest 24 agencies and Cabinet departments in the executive branch of the federal government. The subcommittee is now assessing a new set of programs in addition to its report card.
His concern is that until all of these systems are compliant, government agencies cannot begin their program-wide testing. "Have they developed viable contingency plans? Are they are examining telecommunications and embedded systems? Are they verifying their work?"
The subcommittee report released Tuesday found that 70 percent of these activities are still in progress.
"Just as you would not grade college seniors on the same set of criteria expected of college juniors, our expectations for this quarter rose, placing greater emphasis on the agencies' progress in these additional areas of Year 2000 compliance," said Horn.
"Based on these higher criteria, the government merits an overall B-minus, up from C+ from the quarter before. Though everyone would like to bring home an A, we're getting close to the finish line, and the executive branch still has quite a ways to go," he said.
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 may not be able to function at all, observers warn.