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Government reads last-minute Y2K checklist

Days before the New Year, the government gives a last-minute status report on the year 2000 readiness of some of the most critical Federal agencies.

With just days before the New Year, the government today gave a last-minute status report on the year 2000 readiness of some of the most critical Federal agencies.

At a press conference today, Social Security Administration officials said their agency's computers are completely prepared for the date change. January checks have been sent to the Treasury Department for dispersal, and contingency plans are in place for any unexpected situations that may occur as a result of the so-called millennium bug.

More than 50 million people Y2K: The cost of fear depend on Social Security or Supplemental Security income payments each month, and 145 million workers pay into the system for benefit payments.

"Our goal all along has been to have a Y2K compliant system ready and tested a year beforehand, so that if other, unanticipated problems arose, they could be resolved quickly and without impacting out customers," Social Security commissioner Kenneth Apfel said in a statement.

This time last year, the Social Security Administration was criticized for first claiming that systems were Y2K compliant, but later admitting that additional work was needed to ensure the delivery of checks.

Today's press conference was geared to reassure the public that government systems are indeed ready for 2000.

"We also have almost 2,000 data exchanges with our business partners, such as state governments, the IRS, Treasury and the Federal Reserve. All have been certified as Y2K compliant. Fortunately, we began early and finished early. We are prepared for the year 2000," Apfel said.

The FBI was expected to also hold a press conference today on possible terrorism and cyber attacks during the date change, but cancelled the event following the recent arrest of a suspected terrorist in Washington state.

Tomorrow, Transportation Department secretary Rodney Slater, Federal Aviation Administration head Jane Garvey and other department officials will join John Koskinen, chair of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, for a media update on the Y2K status of the transportation sector and the Department's contingency plans for the New Year's weekend.

Last month, the FAA reported that 565 airports subject to federal rules have met safety and security requirements for Y2K. The safety concerns involved airfield operations such as lighting control, fire response and radio communications, government officials 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 not be able to function at all.