NHNE Y2K Report 20
Sunday, April 4, 1999
& Consumer Protection
for Spiritual Seekers"
NHNE Y2K Report 20
Sunday, April 4, 1999
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Canada, New York Pass Critical Y2K Test
White House Sets Poor Y2K Example
Key U.S. Computer Lags on Y2K
U.S. Water Crisis Projected
FDIC Plans Campaign to Calm Y2K Fears
Fed Sees Possible Complications from Y2K
Milwaukee to Buy Generators for Year 2000
Ten Most Feared Y2K Disasters
NHNE Y2K VISIONQUEST:
Part Two: Wednesday, Part Three: Friday & Saturday
Y2K GLITCH WATCH:
Firm's Illusion of Compliance Shattered
Theobald: A Matching Grant
THE NHNE Y2K ACTION NETWORK:
Optimist: Prepare Just the Same
Building a Resilient Local Community
U.S. Federal Government Misses March 31 Deadline
Mission Critical Numbers Game
NERC Cooking the Numbers?
Grim News from U.S. Postal Service
Russia Faced with Problems on Many Fronts
AMA Issues Guidelines for Protecting Physicians from Y2K
Searching for "The Right Voice on Y2K"
De Jager Responds to Criticism of "Doomsday Avoided"
THE LIGHTER SIDE OF Y2K:
Good News Rises to the Top
THIS WEEK'S NEWS SOURCES
LOOK BACK & REJOICE
"Our real needs are spiritual rather than materialistic. The most wonderful
surprise is how many people share this understanding. They may express
it in different ways, from a religious perspective or a desire to revive
traditional values or from the vantage point of an ever-growing number
of spiritual traditions, but the recognition is there. It is our challenge
to give people an opportunity to express it. If we succeed, we shall
look back at the end of the 20th Century as the end of the world as
we knew it, and rejoice."
--- Robert Theobald, from his essay, "The Growing Split in the Y2K Debate"
CANADA, NEW YORK PASS CRITICAL Y2K TEST
(Source: THE WICHITA EAGLE/WASHINGTON POST SERVICE, 4/2/1999)
One of the first critical dates of the millennium bug -- the April 1
start of fiscal year 2000 in Canada and New York state -- has passed
with barely a hitch, offering a small but encouraging sign of progress
in repairing the Y2K computer glitch. April 1 had been marked as an
important checkpoint in the Year 2000 effort because it was one of the
first dates in which some large computer systems would begin handling
the two-digit source of the millennium bug: the year "00." While Canada
and New York easily passed their first test, some experts cautioned
that it was a tiny victory since the passage of April 1 tested only
the portion of their systems that deal with the fiscal year. In addition,
there is still the possibility of problems emerging as their systems
look deeper into the new fiscal year. "We've been working on this since
April 1996, so having this confirmation is still gratifying [but]
Jan. 1 is still the real test," reminded Gary Davis, Year 2000 Project
Manager for the STATE OF NEW YORK. "So far it's been a nonevent," echoed
Jim Bimson of the Year 2000 office for CANADA'S TREASURY BOARD SECRETARIAT.
Lou Marcoccio, Year 2000 Research Director for the technology consulting
and research firm GARTNERGROUP, cautioned that, in the overall scheme
of the millennium bug, April 1 is barely a noticeable point -- significant
more for its symbolism than anything else. The bulk of Year 2000 failures
will begin to take place after July, as more companies and governments
start their fiscal years and more computer systems look forward into
the next year, according to a GartnerGroup study of 15,000 companies
in 87 countries, released in March. "October is when the music starts,"
said Marcoccio. "Until then, it all is just a lot of noise." (JG)
WHITE HOUSE SETS POOR Y2K EXAMPLE
(Source: Brian Friel, GOVEXEC.COM, 3/26/1999)
While 92 percent of federal agencies' critical computer systems were
Year 2000 compliant by President Clinton's March 31 deadline, the White
House itself will miss that deadline by seven months, according to White
House spokesman Barry Toiv. By the end of March, only 25 percent of
the White House's 68 mission-critical computer systems were Y2K-compliant
and all systems won't be ready until October, he said. Toiv said Y2K
work at the White House was delayed when Congress blocked funding for
the OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATION in fiscal 1997. He also blamed slow progress
on "the complexity and age" of the White House's computer systems. Of
the government's 24 largest agencies and departments, only the AGENCY
FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT lags behind the White House. (JG)
KEY U.S. COMPUTER LAGS ON Y2K
(Source: Declan McCullagh, WIRED, 3/19/1999)
The DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES has abandoned plans to replace
its aging payment management system, which hands out $165 billion a
year in federal funds. "The problem is bigger than we all anticipated,
and progress has been slower," said John C. West, Chief Financial Officer
for the department's program support center. "To make the due date for
Y2K...we're remediating the old system," rather than replacing it. Dozens
of agencies rely on the payment management system which funnels money
to everything from research universities and state governments to airports
receiving grants from the FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION. "Deep down
in my heart, I don't have the guts to change systems two months before
Y2K," said West. He predicts the existing system will be successfully
repaired by summer's end. (JG)
U.S. WATER CRISIS PROJECTED
(Source: Jim Lord, WESTERGAARD YEAR 2000, 3/22/1999)
More than 30 million people in the U.S. are likely to be without water
after January 2000, with nearly two thirds in the big cities, according
to an assessment delivered during an American-Canadian meeting held
on February 22, 1999 to discuss "Cross-Border Y2K Issues." John Koskinen,
Chair of the President's Council on Y2K Conversion, who attended the
meeting, "admitted that water is problematic." A recent U.S. Senate
report on Y2K indicates that 11 percent of the community public water
systems serving populations ranging from 100,000 to 1,000,000 people
do not expect to have Y2K compliance work completed on time. The water
situation for small and medium communities is even more grim: 23 percent
of the 51,000 such systems are not expected to achieve Y2K compliance.
In response to the above news, Y2K analyst Jim Lord's "Tip For The Week"
is to store several times as much water as you think you will need.
"If the government's numbers are correct," says Lord, "water will end
up being the core issue of Y2K." (JG)
FDIC PLANS CAMPAIGN TO CALM Y2K FEARS
(Source: BERGEN RECORD, 3/29/1999)
The federal government, concerned that consumers are afraid banks will
collapse or have computer problems on the first day of the Year 2000,
is planning a media blitz to put people's fears to rest. Donna Tanoue,
Chairman of the FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORP. (FDIC), announced that
the FDIC will travel to several cities, beginning with New York in April,
to talk to newspapers and other media in an effort to calm people's
fears. To explain the decision, Tanoue cited a recent Gallup poll that
found that more than half of Americans still think banking systems will
fail on Jan. 1. Bankers have tried to assure customers that there will
be no problem on Jan. 1., but the public is looking for an official
source beyond the banks themselves to assure them that their money is
safe. "Because banks have not done a good job squashing that bug," said
David Barr, a spokesman for the FDIC in Washington, "we've got to get
it out there." (JG)
FDIC Y2K Home Page: http://www.fdic.gov/about/y2k/
FED SEES POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS FROM Y2K
(Source: Caren Bohan, REUTERS, 3/25/1999)
The FEDERAL RESERVE is worried about its ability to provide emergency
loans to banks whose computers might seize up because of the Year 2000
bug. Speaking to the SENATE BANKING COMMITTEE, Fed Governor Edward Gramlich
warned that banks' requests for money through the central bank's discount
window could rise "substantially in the future." While Gramlich was
not predicting a bank computer problem, he said it was still important
to be prepared for the possibility that it might happen. To that end,
he asked the lawmakers to support legislation that would permit the
central bank to make the necessary loans without running into technical
constraints on its balance sheet. Balance-sheet constraints have become
a concern in light of a trend of a decline in the amount of reserves
that banks hold with the central bank. (JG)
MILWAUKEE TO BUY GENERATORS FOR YEAR 2000
(Source: Greg J. Borowski, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/26/1999)
The CITY OF MILWAUKEE is preparing to spend about $1 million on 13 new
generators to guard against potential Year 2000 computer problems, including
five portable units which can be moved to trouble spots come New Year's
morning. The plan would put two permanent generators at the POLICE ADMINISTRATION
BUILDING downtown and others at communication towers and dispatch centers.
In addition, a generator would be placed in the part of the City Hall
complex where most of the city's main computers are located. Fire stations
would be equipped with special connections that would allow the portable
generators to be hooked up easily as needed. District police stations,
along with some other city buildings, already have generators. Early
on, planners thought they might need a generator at one of the city's
water plants, which could have carried a $3.5 million price tag itself,
but they became more convinced that citywide power failures are unlikely.
"If that happens, we'll have more problems than generators will be able
to solve anyway," pointed out Ald. Don Richards, Chairman of the COMMON
COUNCIL'S INFORMATION POLICY COMMITTEE. (JG)
TEN MOST FEARED Y2K DISASTERS
(Source: Chuck Lanza, WESTERGAARD YEAR 2000, 3/26/1999)
Here are the top ten most feared Y2K disasters, as compiled by Harrison
W. Fox, staff member of the HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT,
INFORMATION, AND TECHNOLOGY:
1. Oil and gas shortages
2. Defense weapon failures
3. Air traffic control system breakdowns
4. Utility grid blackouts and brownouts
5. Manufacturing and production shutdowns
6. Supply base and service interruptions
7. Water and sewer system breakdowns
8. Public health and safety-device failures
9. Embedded chip failures
10. Citizen panic (JG)
NHNE Y2K VISIONQUEST
PART TWO: WEDNESDAY, PART THREE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY
By David Sunfellow
Part One of our three-part NHNE Y2K VisionQuest Report was sent out
Tuesday of last week (http://dispatch.mail-list.com/archives/nhnelist/msg00057.html).
Part Two of this special report, which will consist mostly of letters
from our readers, will be sent out this Wednesday, April 7th. Some of
the letters we received took my breath away and I'm sure you will find
them as inspiring as I did. If you've got something to share about Y2K
that you think others would appreciate, you'll need to send your comments
to us no later than Wednesday morning to be included in Thursday's report.
Send them to: email@example.com
This coming weekend -- Friday, April 9 and Saturday, April 10 -- are
the days we've picked to stage the NHNE Y2K VisionQuest. As promised,
I will spend some time in Part Two of our VQ special report talking
about how to organize a visionquest in your part of the world. For those
of you who would like to start thinking about it now, I encourage you
to visit the following link:
Dreams & VisionQuests:
Along with providing general information in the Part Two of our Y2K
VisionQuest Report, we've also set up a special listserve to allow those
of us who are interested to communicate with each other before, during
and after the visionquest. I will announce how to subscribe to this
special list on Wednesday.
This Thursday, April 8th, a group of us will be meeting in Sedona to
participate in Robert Theobald's next satellite Y2K conference. After
the conference is over, we will be planning our visionquest activities
in Sedona. You may want to do the same. For more information about Robert's
conference, you can contact:
Phone: (509) 448-6733
Resilient Communities Website:
Until then, I send you all my best.
With Love & Best Wishes,
Y2K GLITCH WATCH:
FIRM'S ILLUSION OF COMPLIANCE SHATTERED
(Source: Colin C. Woods, 4/1/1999)
Y2K analyst Gary North recently posted a harrowing real-life account
of the "Jo Anne Effect" from Colin C. Woods, IT manager and author of
"Empire of Promises" (http://www.colinlink.com/). Here are some edited
"I am an IT Manager. I handle all [my company's] hardware, upgrades
and billing software. Until about a year ago, our platform was largely
MS DOS-based with a few Windows applications, and thus non-Y2K compliant.
In July 1998, we installed an upgrade designed to be simply 'dropped
into' our existing program, [which] by the way, is a custom-written
financial billing and invoicing system engineered for Windows 95. [The
overlay] was simple enough to install. Within minutes, everything
appeared to be a success -- no data loss, no problems. Or so I thought."
"On January 1, 1999, something interesting happened: the computer wouldn't
let me into the program. Each time I booted the program, the computer
would say that my license had expired. At first, this appeared comical.
However, by mid-morning, it was no laughing matter. I called their technical
support. Their line was busy. I tried to fax them. Again, no luck. Finally,
I managed to get through. I was told that a power failure had knocked
them temporarily off-line. Amazingly enough, they told me that they
didn't have the fix available right then, but to 'remain calm and be
patient.' At this point, customers were jamming our phone lines, wanting
their invoices -- they were anything but 'calm and patient.' By early
afternoon, the software company had made a patch available on their
website. Upon installing the fix, everything ran smoothly."
"That is, until a few days ago. On March 25, I began to notice some
unusual quirks in our software: invoices were being generated with improper
product quantities. At first glance, I simply shrugged it off as just
a minor hiccup. However, even after repeated rebooting, the problem
would crop up a dozen invoices later. I ran the data repair facility
that is included with the program. Most of the data appeared normal,
until it reached our main invoicing file, [where] the repair
utility simply froze, completely shutting down our billing machine.
Had I not made data backups only minutes before, all of the day's transactions
amounting to literally thousands and thousands of dollars would have
been lost, and would have had to be painstakingly restored by hand from
the hard copies we also keep on file. From that point on, I began to
see that this was more than just 'a minor hiccup.'"
"After I restored the backups, I examined our bills. I began to see
that, although 99 percent of the bills processed were being properly
generated, a handful had errors. Furthermore, upon running vital end-of-month
statistical data, the program began to randomly dump names and accounts
of customers totally unrelated to what we expected. In other words,
statistical data that we normally depend on for proper bookkeeping and
accounting at the close of each month was unreliable."
"After many difficult hours of research and extensive talks with the
software company, it appears that that our data has been corrupted,
[possibly] as far back as July or August of 1998! We may never
know in full how it happened. It could have been software company. It
could have been me or my equipment."
"I am writing this to present a point: the Jo Anne Effect is real. Y2K
is real. Just because data problems don't appear in the data right away,
it doesn't mean that they aren't hidden somewhere. It proves that data,
once thought to be reliable, can change over time with little or no
warning. Keep in mind, it took a MINIMUM of three things for me to even
come close to fixing my broken data:
1. A phone to talk to tech support AND to get onto the Internet.
2. A reliable computer on their end so that they could investigate my
3. Power to make everything go."
"Think: Japanese banks, Wall Street, and most of all, the power grid.
Now, think of the end of 1999. Some businesses could be in for the ride
of their lives." (JG)
THEOBALD: A MATCHING GRANT
Futurist Robert Theobald, whom we have quoted several times in our Y2K
Reports and mailings, has offered to match donations to NHNE up to $500.
With this offer, Robert also made the following comments:
"I am very much aware of how deeply the idea has taken root in the Web
and email culture that services should be free. I consider this a pernicious
myth. It usually means that it is necessary for a person to hold a job
in the industrial-era culture in order to do good work in the transformed
world we so urgently need to bring into existence. It is frankly ridiculous
that NHNE has to make serial appeals. Because my cashflow is currently
positive, I can make the offer of a matching grant. I challenge every
reader and subscriber of the NNHE Reports and mailings to do their part
to help NHNE acquire the financial support they need to survive and
flourish. But I also believe that we need to look at this issue much
more broadly. Most of us in this movement are reasonably well off. Until
we see this kind of work as central to our lives and thus commit to
funding it, we cannot expect to be an effective part of the transformation."
--- Robert Theobald, Spokane, Washington
[Thanks, Robert! Anyone interested in taking up Robert's challenge
can make matching pledges via our website, email, or regular mail. See
the end of this report for details. -DS]
THE NHNE Y2K ACTION NETWORK:
OPTIMIST: PREPARE JUST THE SAME
By Lilja Finzel
After 25 years in the financial services industry as a programmer, information
systems auditor and manager, information security manager, and business
continuity planner, I've been an independent consultant for the last
five years performing risk assessments, information system audits, and
have done business continuity planning for clients in financial services,
government agencies and utilities. The last three years, I have primarily
focused on Y2K risk assessment for state regulators of credit unions,
for a state accounting division, and for a utility; and contingency
planning for a state fiscal agency, for a utility, and, in seminar format,
for a variety of industries.
In addition to the paid work noted above, I've done quite a few volunteer
Y2K presentations locally for town halls, churches, and other community
venues. On some panels, I am often the only speaker with actual Y2K
business experience, so I focus on that aspect if I'm one of many speakers.
As a contingency planner, I always conclude with a message on personal
preparedness -- not just for Y2K -- but for potential earthquakes, floods,
ice storms, windstorms, and other power-outage situations.
On my personal Richter scale, Y2K has wavered from 5 to 8. I am in the
6-7 range right now -- moderate to severe problems in some industries
and parts of the world, but not the end of the world as we know it.
I'm feeling very positive about financial services being able to function,
but concerned about recession in some industries that could affect banks.
I'm quite positive about gas and electric utilities in the Pacific Northwest
where I live. Major telecoms are in good shape too, I think. Cities,
states and counties are getting the picture now: the State of Washington
is done in several agencies and is now focusing on the weak ones. Oregon
has less information system centralization, and most agencies are making
good progress. I am less certain about food distribution and medical,
although I personally know of good progress in these parts.
It's the rest of the world I'm not as sure of. So I am gradually stockpiling
to more than my usual earthquake and storm preparedness levels and suggesting
that everyone else to do the same, just in case. I am a natural optimist,
however, and feel that things are moving along well in most sectors.
I am moving to a more rural spot about an hour out of Portland later
this year. I am finally consolidating in one place and semi-retiring,
but, just in case things are less rosy than I hope they will be at year
end, my country place has better sustainability with its wells, propane,
wood heat, great garden space, and lots of trees.
I really appreciate the Y2K Report. It saves me lots of time on my research.
I use it mainly for news articles and current statistics. Because of
the number of presentations I give, and my work-related travel, it's
easier for me to print your newsletter each week rather than go through
multiple websites to check out each cited URL. Your format saves me
hours of online time and time in general -- time being the most precious
resource this year!
Independent Y2K Risk Assessment Consultant
BUILDING A RESILIENT LOCAL COMMUNITY
[The following post is in response to a request by Michael Pulsford
of Adelaide, Australia for ideas of how he could rally his mixed community
on the Y2K issue (Y2K Report 17).]
"I'd love to talk to Michael Pulsford about building a resilient local
community. We live in a court of six households and one institution.
So far, I have initiated Y2K conversations with two of the households,
plus the institution.
"My neighbors are reasonably receptive to the wisdom of some forward
planning, but I am finding resistance at the council level. My local
councilor, Neil Rose, told me, 'Only right wing rednecks and doomsday
Americans think that the whole system will go down. Besides, it will
be a national emergency and the army will be called out.' I am also
in contact with a member on the Council's Y2K Policy Panel, Peter Tull,
and send him relevant updates from your Y2K Report. He personally is
quite receptive, and has tried to put forward our viewpoint of looking
after people at a community level, but is finding Council is not. They
are having trouble deciding if it is a local or federal issue in terms
"By the way, the City of Maroondah has updated its computers to be compliant
and they tell me they are confident that their automated doors will
--- Hal Tropp, City of Maroondah, Melbourne, Australia
U.S. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MISSES MARCH 31 DEADLINE
(Source: Y2KNEWSWIRE, 4/1/1999)
The U.S. Federal Government has not met its self-imposed March 31 deadline
for Y2K compliance. The PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON YEAR 2000 CONVERSION
is now claiming that 92 percent of the government's 24 largest agencies
are Y2K compliant -- and not only have these systems gone through the
full stages of analysis and assessment, but also remediation, testing
and implementation. Of the eight percent not compliant, the Council
has singled out the AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT for reporting
that none of its mission critical systems are fixed. Various components
of systems in the DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE and FEDERAL AVIATION AUTHORITY
are also not fixed. (In a curiously conflicting statement, President's
Y2K czar, John Koskinen, is on record as claiming that only 13 of the
24 federal departments are 100 percent compliant.)
While many applaud this apparent miraculous achievement, Y2KNEWSWIRE
has taken a more jaundiced view: "Clinton's claims are a gigantic leap
from the 80 percent reported compliance just two weeks ago by the U.S.
OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET (OMB) [and are] are highly suspect."
These questionable claims have prompted Y2KNEWSWIRE to draft 52 pressing
Y2K questions that all journalists should be asking the Federal Government
about the "92 percent" (but aren't). Here are some examples:
- Where are the statistics showing system-testing results?
- Who independently verified that the systems are now working and where
is their report?
- When exactly did these systems go on-line?
- Why didn't we hear announcements of agencies moving into the testing
- What is the name of the project manager at each federal agency who
signed off on the full compliance of these systems?
- Have the systems been end-to-end tested? (JG)
MISSION CRITICAL NUMBERS GAME
(Source: FOX MARKET WIRE, 3/30/1999)
It turns out that some missions aren't so critical after all. A study
of the number of federal government systems potentially vulnerable to
the Y2K bug shows that about one-third of them have simply dropped off
the "mission-critical" list in recent months. Government agencies "are
under tremendous pressure from Congress to hit their numbers, to be
100 percent compliant. And in a practical sense, they will do so even
if they have to drop some of their mission-critical systems," explained
Robert Alloway, who heads the NATIONAL LEADERSHIP TASK FORCE ON Y2K,
an independent, nonprofit organization.
In August 1997, the government listed 9,100 mission-critical systems,
and its overall rating stood at 19.3 percent compliant, according to
the GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE (GOA). As of mid-March, the government
says, 3,298 systems have been fixed, and about 79 percent of its mission-critical
systems are compliant. But that figure would only be 55.6 percent had
3,323 systems not been dropped or redefined, the GAO figures show. Here
are some specific examples:
- The DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE has dropped 886 mission-critical computer
systems from its August 1997 total of 1,239. That enabled it to say
it had gone from 10 percent compliant to 65 percent.
- HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT started with 231 systems and ended with
62, boosting compliance from 22 percent to 73 percent.
- The DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE's numbers went from 3,695 systems to 2,581,
and compliance from 18 percent to 52 percent.
While Alloway concedes that of the mission-critical systems dropped
in the last 18 months, about 500 probably needed to be dropped, he worries
that many reclassified systems are "being dropped down to the next tier
of importance, primarily so they'll drop off the radar of what's important."
"The issue as to whether or not federal agencies were 'gaming the system'
was raised some time ago," counters Russell George, staff director and
Chief Counsel for the HOUSE Y2K SUBCOMMITTEE. "The subcommittee, working
with the GAO, reviewed that issue and found no evidence that that was
"Once an agency compiles its mission-critical systems, I don't think
it should be able to change what's defined as mission-critical," suggests
Ed Yardeni, Chief Economist for DEUTSCHE BANK SECURITIES in New York.
"[Otherwise] the pressure will only increase for organizations
to define down their systems." (JG)
NERC COOKING THE NUMBERS?
(Source: Jim Lord, WESTERGAARD YEAR 2000, 3/29/1999)
Last year the NORTH-AMERICAN ELECTRICAL RELIABILITY COUNCIL (NERC) was
asked by the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY to determine the Y2K status of the
electrical utility industry. In January, NERC issued a report on their
findings that was very positive about how the power companies are doing
with their Y2K efforts. However, the numbers used to substantiate NERC's
assessment are questionable; for example, here is a statement from the
instructions on how to calculate the critically important "percentage
of Y2K work completed" figure used in the NERC report: "If no remediation
and testing is required in an area that was inventoried and assessed,
then show remediation and testing as 100 percent complete."
In a recent news conference, Department of Energy Secretary Richardson
gave this assessment of the electrical utility industry, "Tests and
repairs are now more than half done." Using an automotive analogy, imagine
your car is towed to a garage with two flat tires. When you call the
garage for a status report, if NERC was your mechanic, their report
would probably go something like this: "Your flat tires haven't been
touched yet, but two of your tires don't need repairs so...your tire
job is half finished."
Based on the above, Y2K analyst Jim Lord's "Tip of the Week" is: We're
not getting the whole truth out of these folks and until we do, you
should seriously prepare for power outages much worse than a three-day
GRIM NEWS FROM U.S. POSTAL SERVICE
(Source: Karla W. Corcoran, Inspector General, USPS, 2/23/1999)
The following edited excerpts are from a surprisingly frank report by
Karla W. Corcoran, Inspector General of the U.S. POSTAL SERVICE (USPS)
to a joint hearing of the SUBCOMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT, INFORMATION,
AND TECHNOLOGY and the TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE:
"In 1998, the Postal Service used automation and information systems
to deliver 198 billion pieces of mail, maintain its nationwide network
of over 38,000 post offices and facilities, and pay its more than 775,000
career employees. This dependency on automated systems makes the Postal
Service highly susceptible to the Y2K problem. As a key element in our
nation's communication and commerce infrastructure, its preparedness
may be crucial to the nation's Y2K readiness."
"While the Postal Service has made progress in pursuing solutions to
its Y2K problems, it still faces significant challenges in the ten months
- "[In] our most recent Y2K report, we found that briefings
to senior management and Y2K reports designed for internal and external
use were not always complete, consistent, or clear. We also found that
the briefings to senior management did not include a standard report
on the overall status of Y2K progress and were not provided at regularly
scheduled intervals. As a result, senior managers did not always have
the information they needed to monitor Y2K progress. Because senior
managers did not have this information, they lost time-critical opportunities
to make important resource and budget decisions."
- "As recently as last November, the Postal Service had no comprehensive
report that effectively conveyed to senior management the status of
the Postal Service's Y2K Initiative."
- "The Postal Service relies extensively on external suppliers that
are critical to moving the mail, such as airlines, railroads, and the
trucking industry. Obviously, these suppliers are also susceptible to
the Y2K problem. Therefore, it is important that the Postal Service
become aware of the Y2K status of suppliers to plan and minimize potential
disruption in services. Postal officials started to address the supplier
issue in June 1998 and, to date, have identified almost 8,000 critical
suppliers. As of January 1999, the Postal Service knew the Y2K status
of 349 of these 8,000 suppliers."
- "For headquarters' suppliers, in January 1999, the Postal Service
had identified 661 critical suppliers and inquired as to their Y2K readiness.
Of these, 312 did not respond to inquiries. Of the 349 that replied,
the Postal Service determined that 254 are at high risk of not being
Y2K ready. The Postal Service has not developed contingency plans to
address how it will move the mail if these external suppliers are not
ready for the Year 2000."
- "The Postal Service operates more than 38,000 facilities nationwide.
Many of these facilities are dependent on technology susceptible to
Y2K problems, such as fire suppression equipment, heating and cooling
systems, and building access controls. The Postal Service considers
700 of these facilities "high risk" because of the high volume of mail.
These facilities rely on thousands of pieces of critical Y2K-susceptible
equipment. As of January 1999, the Postal Service did not know the Y2K
status of critical equipment in its facilities nationwide."
- "As of January 1999, the Postal Service had identified 152 critical
information systems crucial to the core business activities of the Postal
Service. As of January 1999, Postal managers reported that 127 of the
152 systems were reviewed, corrected, and tested at the system level.
These systems still need to be certified and independently verified
as Y2K compliant. Some systems will also need to undergo readiness testing.
The Postal Service's initial target date for reviewing and correcting
systems was September 1998. The current completion date is projected
for June 1999, nine months after the original projection, which affects
other information systems target dates."
- "The Postal Service exchanges a significant amount of data internally
and with external organizations, such as financial institutions, customers,
transportation suppliers, meter manufacturers, and the U.S. Treasury.
These data exchanges need to be assessed and certified as compliant
if the Postal Service's Y2K effort is to succeed. Even if the Postal
Service's critical systems are Y2K compliant, it is possible that exchange
partners' systems may not be Y2K ready. As of January 1999, the Postal
Service has assessed about 4,300 out of approximately 5,700 data exchanges.
About 2,000 of the 4,300 data exchanges assessed have been identified
as critical. As of now, 123 of the 2,000 have been reported as Y2K ready."
- "The Postal Service depends on mainframe systems, midrange computers,
network servers, personal computers, and telecommunications equipment.
The Postal Service has been working to make this infrastructure Y2K
compliant since 1996. As of January 1999, officials estimated that the
Postal Service had more than 134,000 actual pieces of hardware, including
about 120,000 personal computers and about 14,000 servers. To manage
the inventory, the Postal Service has categorized the hardware and software
into 2,000 unique types. As of January 1999, the Postal Service reported
that solutions had been developed for 1,600 of the 2,000 types of hardware
and software. Deploying the solutions will be a challenge because the
Postal Service does not know which specific personal computers and servers
are not Y2K compliant."
"The Postal Service is faced with a formidable challenge in completing
all of these tasks. We believe the Postal Service should immediately
reevaluate the initial assessment and shift priority to issues that
are absolutely necessary to ensure that core business processes work
in the Year 2000 -- those that move the mail, pay employees and vendors,
protect revenue, and protect the safety of employees and customers.
It is [also] critical that the Postal Service develop and test
business continuity and contingency plans. Such plans will reduce the
consequences of Y2K problems that could impair the Postal Service's
core business processes." (JG)
RUSSIA FACED WITH PROBLEMS ON MANY FRONTS
(Sources: Robert MacMillan, NEWSBYTES, 3/31/1999; Dale Hurd, CBN, 3/25/1999;
Adam Entous, REUTERS, 3/22/1999)
White House Year 2000 chief, John Koskinen, is disputing reports that
Russia has canceled plans for Y2K cooperation with the U.S. in response
to NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia. "I have been given no official announcement
that they are withdrawing [from the effort]. From all the information
that we have now, I think we'll continue the dialogue." According to
recent press reports in the U.S. and Russia, Prime Minister Yevgeny
Primakov signaled a forced hiatus in the Year 2000 preparations, when
he canceled a recent meeting with Vice President Al Gore because of
the ongoing NATO military offensive in Kosovo. Russian and American
experts had initiated plans to place Russian and U.S. technicians side-by-side
in a joint nuclear command post during the months before and after January
1, 2000 (Y2K Report 16). The status of a group of DEFENSE DEPARTMENT
officials in Russia since February to work on the Year 2000 bug is uncertain.
Before his trip to the U.S. was interrupted by the controversy, Primakov
had intended to plead with the White House for more money. That's because
Russia is broke and the country is running out of options, according
to political analyst Paul Goble, who says that American leaders are
kidding themselves if they think Russia is a functioning state. "It's
a failed state...much more like the Congo or Somalia. The Russian government
doesn't have effective control over its nuclear weapons. The Russian
government doesn't have effective control over its tax system. The Russian
government doesn't have effective control over its economy. There is
no law. There are no forces maintaining order. What you have is chaos."
On top of the horrendous political and economic tensions the Russian
people are currently experiencing, there are new reports of serious
problems with 14 Chernobyl-style nuclear reactors located throughout
the former Soviet Union. These facilities, all vulnerable to Y2K-related
failures, provide many of the former Soviet states with anywhere from
40 to 80 percent of their electric power. It is believed that a Y2K-related
failure at even one of these plants could pose serious safety risks
and cause regional instability in Eastern Europe. Russia has been slow
in recognizing the seriousness of the Y2K problem. In fact, Russian
Prime Minister Primakov did not receive his first comprehensive Y2K
report until February 26, 1999.
AMA ISSUES GUIDELINES FOR PROTECTING PHYSICIANS FROM Y2K
(Source: Dr. David Hibbard, personal correspondence, 3/18/1999, thanks
to John Steiner)
The AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (AMA) is putting on Y2K information
seminars around the country in an attempt to educate and prepare physicians.
Dr. David Hibbard attended one of the first of these seminars held in
Denver, on March 12. Here are some edited excerpts from his notes:
"There is an emerging 'Standard of Care' for dealing with the Y2K problem
which the AMA is defining and passing along to physicians and hospitals.
The implication throughout this seminar was that if this Standard of
Care is not met by hospitals, physicians, and medical practices, then
not only might patients be harmed, but the hospitals and physicians
would be legally liable (civily and/or criminally) for failure to take
adequate corrective action to protect these patients."
"Every conversation, every decision about Y2K should be written down
and included in a 'Due Diligence File,' showing the thought processes
you went through in preparing your hospital or medical practice for
Y2K. They want you to make a paper trail which documents the efforts
you have made to get all the information possible and then act on that
information for the protection of the patients which the hospital serves."
"They are recommending that all elective surgery for the first two to
three weeks of 2000 be moved up to 1999, or delayed until later, allowing
the hospital staff to exert full surveillance of the hospital functions
and corrective action if such is needed."
"They are recommending to individual physicians that they NOT admit
patients to the hospital electively after the turn of the century, and
admit only when really necessary."
"The AMA is considering having patients admitted to intensive care (ICU)
sign an 'informed consent' form which would discuss the possibility
that the devices in the ICU might fail and result in harm to the patient."
"If you are unsure of the compliance status [of a medical device],
DO NOT USE IT.
"The AMA seminar presenters stressed the need for written contingency
plans for all aspects of the hospital and clinic operations. They are
recommending that each medical office have a meeting ASAP where the
entire staff comes together and brainstorms about how to handle patients
if worse case scenarios happen, e.g., the power is off, there is no
water, sewers are not working. Then write all of this down and keep
it in a Contingency File for each office."
"Each medical office should consider giving patients handouts which
give instructions for patients who are on electricity dependent systems
at home (oxygen concentrators, respirators, etc.) for dealing with prolonged
power outages. Should the patient have their own back-up battery, or
generator system, or should they go to their nearest hospital and hook
into that hospitals' power supply, or should they have tank oxygen supplied
to them by the oxygen company?"
"Each medical office should consider giving patients handouts suggesting
that patients have a least a one-month extra supply of critical medications
on hand in case the normal distribution lines fail. (JG)
List of noncompliant medical devices: http:// www.FDA.gov
SEARCHING FOR "THE RIGHT VOICE ON Y2K"
(Source: Victor Porlier, WESTERGAARD YEAR 2000, 3/17/1999)
On March 10, 200 journalists assembled at a two-hour breakfast meeting
in Manhattan hosted by THE MEDIA STUDIES CENTER to hear a panel of journalists
and Y2K experts address the issue of "The Press and Preventing Panic,"
or, as Moderator Kerry Brock described it, "helping" the press in their
search for "the right voice on Y2K."
As expected, the "experts" played down the seriousness of the Y2K threat.
The underlying assessment was similar to Peter de Jager's recent comments:
"Doomsday avoided, a low to medium possible bump-in-the-road may be
coming to your locale." As a result, the Press should, in the words
of Edward Kelley of the Board of Governors of the FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM,
"suggest calm attentiveness to preparations," presumably of the three-day
variety recommended by FEMA.
Here are some edited statements made at the meeting, along with comments
by attendee, Y2K analyst Victor Porlier:
Kelley: "There are few places in our national life where the statement
'attitude can affect outcome' is so compellingly demonstrated as in
the banking sector, particularly as we work to address Y2K."
Porlier: "The reality is that the remediated systems either work or
they don't work. No amount of 'attitude' is going to change that."
John Koskinen, Chair of the PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON THE YEAR 2000 CONVERSION:
"As it becomes clear our national infrastructures will hold, overreaction
becomes one of the biggest remaining problems."
Porlier: "The problem here is that we have no proof that the national
infrastructure will, in fact, hold. And in the absence of facts, we
must prepare for problems, perhaps very serious ones."
Koskinen: "The less you know, the more you assume the worst."
Porlier: "A large number of Y2K remediators and project leaders, 'know
more' and are assuming something far worse than a bump-in-the-road.
Many top managers in corporations or government agencies and investment
analysts 'know less' than the remediators and are assuming the best."
Kelley: "The overwhelming majority of [banking] institutions
are reported by our examiners to be doing a thorough preparatory job,
and they will be fully ready well in advance of December 31, 1999."
Porlier: "Somewhere in the back of my mind there surfaced the memory
of the Savings & Loan debacle when audits showed that all was well,
until the banks began suddenly to implode. It would have been more persuasive
if he had suggested how to get at the facts and inferences upon which
those assertions are based. Bank depositors and Y2K analysts report
widespread stonewalling by banks across the country. The only answers
being given are that they are ready, compliant, or on schedule."
Kelley: "We don't have as much information about preparations internationally,
and some countries are apparently only now beginning to seriously address
the issue. We do not believe this will seriously affect worldwide financial
activity, but it could result in some disruptions abroad."
Porlier: "His statements about international finance struck me as airbrushing;
every international survey -- GARTNERGROUP, WORLD BANK, CIA -- has forecast
an overseas disaster." (JG)
DE JAGER RESPONDS TO CRITICISM OF "DOOMSDAY AVOIDED"
(Source: Peter de Jager, 3/17/1999
As expected, Peter de Jager received a number of dissenting comments
regarding his recent upbeat article "Doomsday Avoided" (Y2K Report 17).
Here are some edited excerpts from his response to the criticism:
"[In a nutshell], here's my assertion: we've avoided global
bank failures, global power outages and global communications collapse.
That's good news and needs to be stated loudly and strongly. Why? Because
there are charlatans and religious extremists masquerading as technical
experts, and conspiracy theorists posing as computer consultants, who
are saying with 100 percent certainty [that] everything is going
to collapse around our heads. For the record, [while] I've stated
loudly [that] we've avoided the doomsday scenarios, we've NOT
avoided all the problems associated with Y2K. I said we've broken the
back of Y2K -- I never said the beast was dead."
"Some of the messages started out: 'How dare you use your pulpit!' Here's
how I dare: I created it for exactly this purpose by working 100+ hour
weeks for the past five years. That's how I did my bit to spread the
word on Y2K. That's why it exists. That's why I dare."
"Other messages started: 'I've lost a lot of respect for you.' In the
beginning, when I started my efforts to create awareness, I ran into
many obstacles. The ones that affected me most deeply were those that
questioned my integrity or motivations. I pressed on and won the respect
of many people. Not to mention the small, tiny fact that I was proven
to be right."
"Some messages started: 'You've obviously sold out and are being paid
to tone down the discussion.' I've been accused for the past eight years
of selling out, first to the vendors, and now to the 'establishment.'
I have no real defense against this attack. I cannot 'prove' my opinions
are my own. Those who wish to believe this accusation can choose to
do so. Those who know me personally know, without a shadow of a doubt,
this is not the case."
"The most ludicrous category of messages started with: 'Why are you
telling people not to make preparations?' I've NEVER said that, and
it is very unlikely I will say it between now and 2000. [What I
have said] is that planning for one-year disruptions, stock piling
one-year supplies of anything, buying guns, and running for the hills
are overreactions. I have [also] said that preparations along
the lines of those sufficient to cope with Montreal ice storms are reasonable
"I have always chosen to work on the biggest problem facing us on which
I could have a positive impact. Years ago, that was the denial surrounding
Y2K. Today it is the hype. I will always will speak honestly about this
subject based upon the facts I have at my disposal. When the facts change,
so will my message." (JG)
(Source: ASHLAND Y2K GROUP)
The Ashland Y2K Mailing List recommends the following gardening resources:
BOUNTIFUL GARDEN: excellent tools, non-hybrid seeds. (707) 459-6410
PEACEFUL VALLEY FARM SUPPLY: for the organic gardener. (530) 272-4769
RONINGER'S SEED AND POTATO: best potato starts and other heirloom seeds.
NICHOLD GARDEN NURSERY: quality seeds, lots of heirloom seeds. (541)
"The Humanure Book": never buy fertilizer again.
"The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by Carla Emery: a guide for the
rest of us.
"How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Every Thought Possible" by John
Jeavons: the definitive work on bio-intensive gardening.
"The Sustainable Vegetable Garden" by John Jeavons and Carol Cox: the
condensed version of the above book and enough to get you started in
If the books are not available locally, you can order them from AMAZON.COM.
THE LIGHTER SIDE OF Y2K:
GOOD NEWS RISES TO THE TOP
"The higher up you go in an organization, the better they are doing."
--- John Koskinen, Chair of the PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON THE YEAR 2000
CONVERSION, at a speech to 200 journalists in Manhattan on March 10,
To which one wag in the audience quipped:
"Aren't YOU pretty high up in the White House's organization?"
THIS WEEK'S NEWS SOURCES:
The stories in this week's NHNE Y2K Report were drawn, in part, from
the following news sources:
SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS:
YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER:
GARY NORTH'S LINKS AND FORUMS:
Sheri Nakken (Y2K NETWORK):
Copyright 1999 by NewHeavenNewEarth
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