A number of government officials and industry experts join the growing
chorus of dignitaries who say the transition to the new year will be a
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
"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.