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NHNE Y2K Report 16
Sunday, February 28, 1999


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NHNE Y2K Report 16
Sunday, February 28, 1999

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Hello Everyone,

Over the years, we've tried all kinds of things to raise money for NHNE. While many of our attempts (including our current mousepad drive: http://www.nhne.com/mousepads/mousepads.html) have been innovative, we sure haven't given Donald Trump (or any other successful entrepreneur) a run for their money. But that might be changing.

After four and a half years of struggling, we've talked a new bud, Linda Becker, into being our Director of Marketing. Along with the official-sounding title, Linda will be putting a successful career in the corporate world to work for us. No, we haven't sold out to Wall Street, but with Y2K breathing down our necks, we've got to start producing some income!

So what, exactly, are we planning to do?

Next week, Linda will be sending out a letter to everyone on our mailing list, and I will be putting the finishing touches on a new website that will showcase our weekly Y2K report.

In the meantime, we need your help reaching others who might be interested in our weekly report. Our goal is to expand our current mailing list from 2,000 to 10,000 subscribers by the end of March. We need to expand our subscription base to encourage advertisers. YOU CAN HELP BY FORWARDING THIS WEEK'S REPORT TO AS MANY FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES AS POSSIBLE -- no spamming, of course, just friends/associates who might be interested. If everyone on our current list helps, we'll be in orbit long before the end of March.

And that's it for now. Thanks, in advance, for helping us get the word out. I hope you enjoy this week's juicy report and look forward to sharing Linda's letter and our new website with you next week.

With Love & Best Wishes,
David Sunfellow


Total NHNE Mailing List:
Last Mailing: 2023
This Mailing: 2079



"Years after its invention (1952), no one has bothered to get rid of the COBOL core. Instead, revisions were piled on top of it, layer upon layer, until a system containing hundreds of millions of records could have thousands of levels constructed by hundreds of different programmers -- each of whom had a different way of doing things. The enormity of the fixing the [Year 2000 date] problem has been likened to changing every bolt and rivet in all the world's bridges, or individually polishing enough marbles to fill the Grand Canyon."

--- Y2K SOLUTIONS MAGAZINE, January 1999




GAO: Y2K Could Bring the District of Columbia to a Halt
California Auditor General Says No State Systems Are Y2K Ready
USPS Can't Guarantee Mail Delivery After 12/31/1999
A Plea for Forthrightness
Big Guns Target a Little Bug
CIA Predicts Y2K Problems Abroad
Washington, Moscow Ponder Y2K Nuclear Danger
Y2K Threatens U.S.-Russia Space Projects
Companies Want Y2K Immunity for Themselves, But Not the Public
Asian Banks Losing Staff to Y2K Bug
U.S., Mexico, Canada Preparing for Y2K Together
Pentagon to Interrupt GPS Signals
Rubik's Cube Man Develops Embedded Chip Tester
Y2K Prompts Sheriff's Dept. to Buy New Breathalyzer Machines


Domain Name Servers Get Into a Bind With Y2K Bug
Y2K Upgrades to Disrupt Korea Telecom
NZ Payphones & Phone Cards Unusable In the Year 2000
Y2K Test Causes Errors on Monthly Sewer Bills


The "Definitive" Preparedness List
CSY2K Newsgroup Correction
NZ Spending More on Celebrations Than Remediation


Ocean Springs, Mississippi Community Y2K Task Force
I Am More Grateful Than You Can Imagine


Senate Report Says Y2K Risks Widespread
The Latest Government Report Card
Portland Drafts Plans for Dealing With Y2K
Bank Privacy Debate Heats Up
Union Pacific Railroad: "We Can Run The Switches Manually!"
Taking to the Skies In the Year 2000


SEC Posts Y2K Disclosure Reports Online


Y2K-Compliant Pizza
Hello? Anybody Out There?



(Source: David A. Vise, WASHINGTON POST, 2/19/1999 via Y2K NETWORK)

A recent study by the GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE (GAO) has warned the District of Columbia that its late start in addressing Year 2000 problems will disrupt schools, the police department, the delivery of health care services and a range of other programs. Mary Ellen Hanley, the District's Y2K Program Manager, admitted that the federal assessment is accurate -- the District did not start to focus on the issue until last summer. She said the District's primary emphasis is on developing plans to prevent a breakdown in the delivery of services to residents. In March, the District will have more than 300 IBM consultants working on the issue and will launch a campaign aimed at informing residents about ways to deal with potential difficulties. "You can do the marauder approach and move to the mountains...," Hanley said, "or you can buy four weeks' worth of water, put $100 in your pocket and make sure you are safe in your home." District officials have requested an additional $111.5 million in emergency technology aid from the Clinton administration to address the issue. (JG)

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/daily/feb99/district021999.htm


(Source: Michael Taylor, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 2/25/1999 via Y2K NETWORK)

At a joint Senate and Assembly committee session on Y2K preparedness, Elias Cortez, California's new Director of the DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (DOIT), conceded that the state needs to improve its Y2K preparations in order to get critical state computer systems ready by the end of the year. Cortez took office only one week ago, but a few days before that, DOIT had announced 75 percent of the state's essential computer systems had squashed the Y2K bug. Three days later, however, state Auditor General Kurt Sjoberg issued a report saying that two-thirds of California's critical computer systems are NOT ready for Y2K. "It's very difficult for us," said Assemblywoman Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara), "when we have a thorough report from a fine state auditor that's in direct opposition to the DOIT....The ramifications of this are horrendous, and we need assurances this is going to be dealt with." Former Governor Pete Wilson had ordered that the state's most important computer systems be bug-free by last December 31. The new audit found that none of the 15 systems that were supposed to be fixed by that date had been repaired. Cortez is scrambling to "establish goals" and "re-prioritize" his agendas in order to get state agency computers ready for the Year 2000. (JG)

Link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1999/02/25/MN80838.DTL


(Sources: Robert MacMillan, Newsbytes, 2/23/1999 via SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS; Colleen O'Hara, FEDERAL COMPUTER WEEKLY, 2/23/1999 via Y2K NETWORK)

Norman Lorentz, the top technology officer of the U.S. POSTAL SERVICE, (USPS) has told the House Government Reform Committee's POSTAL SERVICE SUBCOMMITTEE that he cannot promise that the agency will not encounter Year 2000 problems that would disrupt mail delivery next year. With the USPS still needing to address "major issues to complete system and mail processing equipment correction and testing, ensure the readiness of hundreds of local facilities, and determine the ability of key suppliers and interface partners to be Year 2000-ready," Jack Brock Jr., Director of GOVERNMENT-WIDE AND DEFENSE INFORMATION SYSTEMS in the GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE recommended that the USPS increase its focus on contingency planning. GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT SUBCOMMITTEE Chairman. Stephen Horn (R-Calif.) went a step further, asking the USPS to submit a master contingency plan within one week that would map out what USPS would do in case of computer failures. Horn said that among all federal agencies it is particularly important that the USPS be Year 2000-compliant, because many federal agencies and businesses plan to use hand-delivered mail in the event that electronic systems fail. (JG)

Link: http://www.newsbytes.com/pubNews/126807.html

Link: http://www.fcw.com/pubs/fcw/1999/0222/web-usps-2-23-99.html


(Source: John Kelly, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 2/19/1999 via Y2KNEWSWIRE)

In a speech to the INDIANA SENATE COMMITTEE ON PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, Sen. Richard Lugar demanded that government agencies and private companies should tell the truth about possible problems looming from the Y2K computer bug, warning that flights could be delayed, government checks might not go out on time, and power could fail in the U.S. and around the world. While governments appear to be making progress, Lugar worries that some agencies and companies are going too far in their efforts to provide Americans with a false sense of security. Instead, officials ought to tell the public about systems that might not be fixed in time and warn them about inevitable problems. Two federal agencies critical to Indiana are struggling with the Y2K issue: if more progress is not made at the DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, Indiana's farm economy and industry could be devastated; the HEALTH CARE FINANCING ADMINISTRATION could grind to a halt at year's end, impacting doctors, hospitals and patients across Indiana. With a "nonnegotiable deadline" looming, federal and state governments need to step back from their efforts and take a triage approach, identifying those programs that affect public safety the most, such as national defense and major economic systems. According to Lugar, honest, accurate information about those problems would give Americans time to prepare instead of panicking. (JG)

Link: http://www.starnews.com/news/citystate/99/feb/0219AP_lugar.html


(Source: Declan McCullagh, WIRED MAGAZINE, 2/25/1999 via SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS)

The U.S. military is beginning war games to simulate Y2K outages in weapons and communications gear. Codenamed "Positive Response," they are designed to replicate the types of assistance that federal agencies and National Guard units might require from the nation's defense force, Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre told a SENATE ARMED SERVICES SUBCOMMITTEE recently. At previous hearings, officials also have raised the possibility of martial law in response to disruptions in electric power. "Because Y2K is a special case of military support to civil authorities (MSCA), in that many concurrent emergencies may occur, special procedures may be required to ensure the most effective use of these resources," Hamre said. The operation is scheduled to last through September. In April, a separate federal simulation -- called a tabletop exercise -- will bring together officials from multiple agencies to walk through "reasonably worst-case scenarios." (JG)

Link: http://www.wired.com/news/news/politics/story/18124.html


(Source: USA TODAY/AP, 2/24/1999 via THE YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER)

At a SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE hearing, Air Force Gen. John Gordon, Deputy Director of the CIA, warned that the Year 2000 computer problem could cause serious disruptions abroad, including breakdowns in nuclear reactors and strategic missile systems, midwinter power outages and disruptions in world trade and oil shipments. He said that based on the latest intelligence reports, it is evident that most countries, particularly Russia, are far behind the U.S. in preparing for the crisis. Midwinter power outages could have "major humanitarian consequences." Gordon stressed that while the CIA currently does not see a danger of unauthorized or inadvertent launch of ballistic missiles from any country due to Y2K problems, there could be serious local problems with missiles if temperature or humidity monitors malfunction, and that problems in early-warning systems could lead to incorrect threat assessments. The developing world faces the greatest risk of disruptions. China, for example, will probably experience failures in key sectors such as telecommunications, electric power and banking. (JG)

Link: http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/cte480.htm


(Source: Adam Tanner, REUTERS, 2/121/ 1999 via Y2K NETWORK)

After two days of military talks, the U.S. has offered to set up a missile early-warning center with Russia to reduce the risk of accidental war stemming from the millennium bug, according to Edward Warner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of DEFENSE FOR STRATEGY AND THREAT REDUCTION. "One of the components of our proposal is the...sharing of early-warning data at the time of the transition... -- late December moving onto January of the Year 2000." Experts have expressed fear that the Y2K problem could cause Russian radar to mistakenly believe that an attack was under way. U.S. and Russian military officials have agreed to meet again in March to come up with a detailed program to combat the millennium bug. (JG)

Link: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/ts/story.html?s=v/nm/19990221/ts/millennium_2.html


(Source: L. Scott Tillett, FCW, 2/24/1999 via THE YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER)

Testifying recently before the HOUSE SCIENCE SUBCOMMITTEE ON SPACE AND AERONAUTICS, NASA administrator Daniel Goldin expressed concern that Year 2000 problems could hinder Russia's joint space projects with the U.S., such as the international space station. Although NASA officials have little concern about hardware supplied by Russia for joint space projects, agency leaders are concerned that the Year 2000 problem in electrical power systems and telephone systems on the ground could pose a problem to Russian mission control. (JG)

Link: http://www.fcw.com/pubs/fcw/1999/0222/web-nasa-2-24-99.html


(Sources: Y2KNEWSWIRE, 2/24/1999; Robert Manor, CHICAGO SUN TIMES, 2/23/1999)

Illinois State Rep. Constance Howard (D-Chicago) is attempting to introduce state legislation that would protect people who cannot pay their bills due to Y2K problems. It would also prevent foreclosures, defaults and negative credit reporting. However, COMMONWEALTH EDISON, the local power company, and the state's banking industry are trying to block the proposed law. Gary McCants, lobbyist for the bankers association, says the law would allow people to get out of paying their bills for no good reason. John Cameron of CITIZEN ACTION was astounded at the level of opposition. "I can't see why they are spending so much time lobbying to protect themselves from a problem they say is not going to happen." Y2KNEWSWIRE points out the inconsistency here: "A state government-granted Y2K immunity could give [businesses] any reason they want for not fulfilling critical services. They'd simply claim, 'Our Y2K emergency is an act of God, your emergency is bunk!'...The immunity game is really nothing more than financial Y2K musical chairs. The group that fails to get immunity laws passed, ends up holding the bill." (JG)

Link: http://www.y2knewswire.com/19990224.htm

Link: http://www.suntimes.com/output/business/bill23.html



Already sideswiped by the region's economic slump, Asian banks are now being battered by a loss to foreign rivals of the key technical staff they need to sort out the Year 2000 computer bug. According to THE ASIAN BANKER JOURNAL, a Singapore-based research house, the average Asian bank set aside 6 per cent of its 1997 operational expenses to deal with the Y2K problem in the three years leading up to the millennium. But most were experiencing enormous cost over-runs, due in part to the serious brain drain occurring with Asian banks' key IT talent being lured away by higher-paying North American and Australian banks. The situation is most acute in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. Because their labor costs are relatively low, their banks' incentive to invest heavily in computers is small. Added to this disincentive is the huge impact of the regional downturn on profits and consequently their ability to finance pre-emptive maintenance of their computer systems. "This does not augur well for institutions that want to compete in a global and liberalized environment," the report concluded. (JG)

Link: http://www.manufacturing.net/cgi-bin/attredit.cgi?targetpage=/y2k/default.htm&src=/y2k/reg/news.htm


(Source: Robert MacMillan, NEWSBYTES/CNN, 2/23/1999 via SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS)

In a recent report on trilateral hemispheric Year 2000 efforts, officials from the U.S., Mexico and Canada indicated that they are working together to insure that there will be no disruptions in important cross-border issues. With the technical infrastructure of the NORTH AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT already compliant, the most important cross-border issues include trade, customs controls, immigration systems, and transportation, as well as telecommunications, tourism and other business relationships. "There has been joint testing of systems," said John Koskinen, Chairman of the PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON YEAR 2000 CONVERSION. "We need to make sure air traffic and transportation systems function effectively. A lot of commerce, as well as people, cross these borders each day." Carlos M. Jarque, President of Mexico's Y2K NATIONAL CONVERSION COMMISSION stressed the importance of exchanging information on the challenge each country faces, and the need to make sure that commodities shipped across the borders are ready for the date change. The U.S. government claims that 70 to 79 percent of its mission-critical systems are ready for the date change; Mexico reports their figure is 70 percent; and in Canada it stands at 84 percent. (JG)

Link: http://www.cnnfn.com/digitaljam/newsbytes/126823.html


(Source: CNN/AP, 2/20/1999)

The FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION and the U.S. COAST GUARD have issued notices cautioning pilots and ship operators against relying on GPS signals during the first week of March, as the DEFENSE DEPARTMENT holds tests to prepare for potential loss of the GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM (GPS) -- a military-run network which provides longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates. The tests and accompanying disruptions could affect the civilian ships and aircraft that use the network to help guide them. The affected area reaches as far south as Florida and as far north as New Jersey. On August 22, the GPS will experience a date rollover that may render useless some GPS receivers. (JG)

Link: http://cnn.com/US/9902/19/PM-Pentagon-satellite.ap/index.html


(Source: YAHOO NEWS, 2/22/1999 via THE YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER)

Patrick Bossert was just 12 years old when he wrote the definitive guide on how to unravel the Rubik's Cube. Now 30, he has unraveled another vexing puzzle by developing a device called the "Delta-T" which he says is able to tell whether embedded chips inside electronic equipment will fail when 1999 becomes 2000. Bossert, Technical Director of WST BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY, and his team came up with the idea in January 1998. Although the Delta-T does not fix the problem, it is capable of pinpointing errors in computer code. Supermarket giant SAINSBURY and BRITISH AIRWAYS are among the companies which have been testing the probe, with successful results. It is estimated that on December 31, that unless faulty embedded chips are located and replaced, one in 500 could fail, preventing the systems they control from operating. (JG)

Delta-T Website: http://www.embedded-science.com

Link: http://www.yahoo.co.uk/headlines/19990222/news/919688640-9-1.html


(Source: MSNBC, 2/15/1999 via THE YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER)

Y2K concerns have prompted the LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT to replace 100 breathalyzer machines at a cost of $600,000. Buying new machines eliminates the need to search for replacement parts for older models, plus motorists will be unable to challenge the breathalyzer results in court by blaming the Year 2000 computer problem. Now the agency must train an estimated 6,000 officers from the various law enforcement agencies on how to operate the machines. The department expects to have everything in place in time for the New Years festivities. (JG)

Link: http://www.msnbc.com/local/KNBC/98196.asp



(Source: John Leyden, VNUNET NEWS, 2/25/1999 via SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS)

The comforting myth that Y2K problems will not affect networking has taken a blow as a result of a warning issued by Richard Almeida, Technical Director of Internet service provider INTERNET NETWORK SERVICES (INS). Almeida said that unless network managers work with their service providers to update a widely-used piece of DNS software ["domain name server" software which runs Internet servers], they will be faced with a myriad of intractable failures. The software in question is older versions of "Bind," which need to be updated or else DNS changes will not go through, making it difficult to diagnose problems. "This also means that in the Year 2000, several years will disappear, as they will no longer exist," explained Almeida. Paul Offord, Managing Director of consultants ADVANCE SEVEN, added: "Ultimately this will lead to users being unable to connect." Larry Sanger, publisher of the SANGER Y2K REVIEW, laments, "It appears that SANGER'S REVIEW may be noncompliant." (JG)

Link: http://webserv.vnunet.com/www_user/plsql/pkg_vnu_nn.right_frame?p_date



South Korea's state-run telephone company, KOREA TELECOM CORP., has warned that 3.4 million of the country's 20.09 million subscribers can expect service interruptions over the next six months because of Y2K compliance upgrade work. The disruptions could last up to six hours beginning at midnight on any given night, with affected customers notified in advance through media announcements. The government and the telco have drawn up contingency plans to counter any emergency situations that might arise. (JG)

Link: http://infoseek.go.com/Content?arn=a0403LBY538reulb-



In July, New Zealand's largest telephone company TELECOM CORP. plans to scrap all existing payphones throughout the country and install new ones because the old ones are not Year 2000 compliant. Despite the fact that old phone cards will not work in the new phones, the company does not intend to reimburse customers. The MINISTER OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS, Peter McCardle, said he was very concerned about the way Telecom appeared to be treating its customers. Telecom defended its stance, saying that customers will have ample time to use up the remaining value on their old cards. (JG)

Link: http://www.year2000.co.nz/y2kher86.htm


(Source: Phil Sutin, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/13/1999)

About 50,000 residential customers of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) received incorrect monthly bills this month after a computer program was tested to see if it had a Year 2000 problem. Terry Briggs, an MSD spokesman, said a staff programmer was testing the district's customer billing program to make sure it was compatible with the Year 2000. To test the computer, the programmer entered 800 cubic feet as the amount of water consumed, but failed to remove test data before the program began processing actual bills. Fortunately, the errors only ranged from $1 to $5. The district will mail a postcard apologizing to customers who got the incorrect bills, urging them to simply pay the same amount as they did last month.

Closer to home, ARIZONA PUBLIC SERVICE (APS), the power company that provides much of Arizona with electricity, including Sedona, sent out a memo explaining why many customers haven't been billed in recent months. Wrote APS, "The enclosed bill is for more than one month's energy usage. This is due to a problem with our new computer billing system. We are EXTREMELY SORRY (emphasis theirs) that this has occurred and hope you are not impacted by this delay in billing....We sincerely apologize for any frustration and inconvenience this delay may have caused you." (JG, DS)

Link: http://www.stlnet.com/postnet/news/pdtoday.nsf/News/1E031DB9F73761A78625




"I've always had the belief that a lot of Y2K preparation is going to come down to following a simple list of items. There seem to be countless lists around, but I keep thinking that it would be great if one 'definitive' list could be settled on. The people who start waking up over the next few months aren't going to have a lot of time to sift through the growing mountain of info on the Net."

--- Bill Dale, northern Minnesota

[The wild2k Website has an entire section dedicated to various preparation lists, so people can pick the one that seems most helpful to them. With respect to the kind of list you would like to see, I think Ted Derryberry's list probably comes the closest. If you come up with an improvement on any of the lists, we'd be glad to add your version. -DS]

wild2k Website preparation lists: http://www.wild2k.com/lists.html

Ted Derryberry's list: http://www.y2klinks.net/Y2Ksupplies.htm



I was very surprised to see you quoting Bradley K. Sherman (bks), a noted Pollyanna on the "csy2k newsgroup," in what looked like a portrayal of possible problems with the railroads ("Dispelling the Railway Myth," Y2K Report 15). When I checked out the link you included, it was clear that bks was taking the opposite position, and it was the other person who was explaining the possible problems.

--- David Goldberg, San Francisco Bay Area, California

[You are correct. The posting was, in fact, written by Erich Houchens in response to the following statement by Sherman: "One wonders how the railroads ever operated without computers. I guess those pictures of trains from the 19th century are part of some conspiracy by Pollyannas." We apologize for any inconvenience this error may have caused either Erich Houchens or Bradley K. Sherman. -JG]



"I have been particularly interested in NHNE's Y2K Reports. Our Government is woefully behind. There is far more going into Y2K celebrations than remediation, as we are the first country in the world to experience the Year 2000. I think all the expensive hooha could fall flat on its face!"

--- S. Walden, Wellington, New Zealand



[In this issue, we launch a new section that tracks NHNE-inspired Y2K groups/activities. For future issues, we ask NHNE readers to send brief reports to "jpg@sedona.net" concerning Y2K activities happening in your part of the world that have been inspired by NHNE. -JG]

By Sherry Stultz

The meeting on Feb. 24 in Ocean Springs went really well. We had three speakers who covered first aid, food storage and emergency preparations. About 50 people attended, with 40 or so new faces. A woman at the meeting whose friend works at MISSISSIPPI POWER (MP) told us that the power company had advised its employees to have enough gear to live in a camp-like situation for several weeks. A man at the meeting offered to help get supplies for M-16s and AK-47s. I told him I advocated talking with neighbors rather than shooting them.

I think things are moving rather quickly, given that I only started in earnest in January. Besides the work of our group, JOSEPH PROJECT 2000 is very active locally, with the churches leading the populous in education about Y2K.

Carla Emery, author of "The Encyclopedia of Backcountry Living," is scheduled to speak to our group on April 5th and I am booked to talk to a women's sorority on April 6th.

Sherry Stultz

[Sherry is also one of the NHNE staff members.]


By Cordell Svengalis

NHNE first alerted me to the Y2K crisis last summer with its first Y2K report. I am more grateful for this information than you can imagine and I am making preparations in a variety of ways; for example, as the curriculum director for a small school district, I have been giving regular reports to the school board and the staff, and will be developing materials to help alert students, their families, and their communities.

As you and others have pointed out, Y2K is an opportunity -- not just a crisis -- for developing greater personal responsibility, community awareness and mutual help, and a host of other actions that we can take on behalf of the greater whole. Thank you so much for the vital work you are doing.

Cordell Svengalis
Des Moines, Iowa



(Sources: Stephen Barr, WASHINGTON POST, 2/24/1999, thanks to Tom Atlee; Y2KNEWSWIRE, 2/25/1999; Robert A. Rankin, KNIGHT RIDDER, 2/24/1999)

A draft of a soon-to-be-released Senate report, hailed as "the most comprehensive assessment yet of the Y2K problem," warns that a number of foreign countries and U.S. economic sectors are at significant risk for technological failures and business disruptions. The report by Senators Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah) and Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) includes a letter to Senate colleagues describing the Y2K problem as a "worldwide crisis" and "one of the most serious and potentially-devastating events this nation has ever encountered." The letter goes on to say, "Make no mistake, this problem will affect us all individually and collectively in very profound ways....In some cases, lives could even be at stake."

Overall, the report says, "Panic over Y2K concerns may cause investors to withdraw financial support. Lack of confidence in a country's infrastructure could cause multinational companies to close their operations. The least-prepared countries are those that depend heavily on foreign investment and multinational companies to supplement their economies. "

Here is how the Senate panel sees Y2K affecting various sectors of the U.S. economy:

Utilities: Only about 50 percent of electric utilities had repaired Y2K systems as of December 1998. "Of greatest concern are about 1,000 small, rural electric utilities." Local and regional blackouts are "likely," but a "prolonged, nationwide blackout" is not.

Health Care: About 64 percent of hospitals have no plans to test their Y2K fixes before the crunch date. Some 90 percent of doctors' offices are unaware of how exposed they are to Y2K problems. Federal payment systems for MEDICARE and other health-insurance programs are behind schedule for repair. "The health care industry is one of the worst-prepared for Y2K and carries a significant potential for harm."

Telecommunications: About 95 percent of telephone systems are expected to be ready. No reliable data exists on readiness to test data networks, cellular or satellite communications systems, or 1,400 regional carriers.

Transportation: "On average, the nation's 670 domestic airports started Y2K compliance too late," the report states. The FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION has "made great strides" but "it still has a way to go. Planes will not fall out of the sky, but flight rationing to some areas and countries is possible." Aviation problems will be "much worse" abroad.

Finance: Banks and automated tellers are expected to function and to have enough cash.

Government: Federal agencies vary widely in preparedness; among the least prepared are the DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (DoD) and DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (DoT). DoD reported that only 72 percent of its "mission-critical systems" are ready; DoT only 53 percent. The Senate report concludes that not all "mission-critical" federal systems will be ready, "but wholesale failures" of federal services "will not occur." However, state and local governments vary widely in preparations, the Senate panel said, noting its "greatest concern is the ability of local communities to provide 911 emergency services."

Business: Heavily-regulated fields such as banking, insurance and finance "are furthest ahead," but "health care, oil, education, agriculture, farming, food processing and the construction industry are lagging behind." Any failure of a critical system is likely to cost up to $3.5 million to repair and to take three to 15 days.

The Senate report, which grew out of a series of hearings last year by the SENATE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON THE YEAR 2000 TECHNOLOGY PROBLEM, concludes, "The biggest Y2K impact will occur internationally." In particular, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, seem to have miscalculated the time and money needed to fix the computer glitch, raising concerns about the availability of oil and other critical imports. International ports are widely described as far behind in their Y2K efforts as well, prompting worries that the maritime industry will face shipping problems that could interrupt commerce." (JG)

Link: http://www.hotcoco.com/news/natfront/bil61683.htm

Link: http://www.y2knewswire.com/19990225.htm

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/business/daily/feb99/y2k24.htm


(Source: Stephen Horn, Government Press Release, 2/22/1999 via GARY NORTH'S LINKS AND FORUMS)

Congressman Stephen Horn (R-CA), Chairman of the SUBCOMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT, INFORMATION, AND TECHNOLOGY has released the first set of grades for 1999 of the Federal Government's progress toward solving the Year 2000 computer problem. The quarterly report card is the seventh Horn has issued based on each agency's self-reported information. Overall, the Federal Government earned a "C+" this quarter, an improvement over the previous three quarters, when it garnered an "F" and two "Ds." Here is a summary of the assigned grades (with the previous grade in brackets):

A: Social Security Administration (A), Nuclear Regulatory Commission (C), National Science Foundation (A), Small Business Administration (A), Environmental Protection Agency (B), Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (C), Dept. of Veterans Affairs (B), General Services Administration (B), Dept. of the Interior (B), Dept. of Education (C), Office of Personnel Management (C)

B: FEMA (B), NASA (C), Dept. of Commerce (B), Dept. of Justice (F), Dept. of Labor (C), Dept. of Energy (F), Dept. of Treasury (C)

C: Dept. of Health and Human Services (F), Dept. of Agriculture (C), Dept. of Defense (D)

F: Dept. of State (F), Dept. of Transportation (D), Agency for International Development (F)

Y2KNEWSWIRE made these comments about Horn's grading system: "Of the eleven agencies and departments receiving an "A" grade, only one has finished embedded systems repairs, four still have not completed repairs or testing on data exchanges, eight have not completed repairs on telecommunications equipment, six have not completed contingency plans -- and these are the "A" grades!...From "B" on down, not a single agency or department has completed any of these items. Given that the original deadline for government agencies to achieve full compliance -- September 31, 1998 -- was not met by a single agency, it seems that agencies should currently be earning an 'F' for tardiness." Nevertheless, Y2KNewswire applauds the grading system: "Whether the grades are accurately portraying the compliance status of these departments and agencies is only secondary: most importantly, the grading system has done a world of good, raising awareness and kicking these agencies in the rear to get moving on Y2K."

Curiously, last December the DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (DoD) had reported that 81 percent of its mission-critical systems were Year 2000 compliant, but in the most recent quarterly report DoD officials stated that only 72 percent were compliant, prompting Horn to comment, "Either the department has a serious internal communications problem, or it has taken a very big step backward in its Year 2000 efforts. Either way, the situation is alarming."

Here are some other comments Horn made:

"The DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION is moving toward January 1 at a snail's pace, with only 53 percent of its systems Year 2000 compliant. This quarter, the department reported a miserable two percent increase in progress....The FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION's antiquated air traffic control system is a significant part of the problem. Its progress rate makes the horse and buggy look like rapid transit."

"The DEPARTMENT OF STATE remains mired in the Jeffersonian era of quills and scrolls, and flickering candlelight."

"The AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT...has only seven mission-critical systems; however, not one of them is Year 2000 compliant. Given its current progress, we aren't sure which millennium this agency is targeting for compliance."

Of the 24 Federal agencies, it appears that only nine will join the SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION and SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION in becoming 100 percent Year 2000 compliant in time to meet President Clinton's March 31, 1999, deadline for compliance. Once compliance is achieved the next major hurdles are end-to-end testing of all integrated systems and an examination of the "multiple-system process" -- the state, local, and international computer systems that transfer information into the Federal systems.

Horn concluded his report with the following admonition: "I assure you: the Year 2000 problem is real; its consequences are serious; and the deadline remains unstoppable."

But it is Y2K analyst Gary North who had the final word: "Dr. Horn's quarterly exam is unique. It allows the agencies to assess their own performance. There are no monitors in the room when the agencies take the exam. It's an honor system. The final exam will be graded by
computer." (JG)

Press Release: http://www.house.gov/reform/gmit/y2k/990222.htm

Chart of Grades (requires Adobe Acrobat reader):

Link: http://www.y2knewswire.com/19990223.htm


(Source: Steve Woodward, THE OREGONIAN, 2/19/1999, thanks to Tom Greco and Lance Bottof)

Portland, Oregon officials are drafting ambitious plans to organize the city's 200,000 households into small, self-sufficient units, marshaled by thousands of neighborhood leaders trained to head off problems resulting from the Year 2000 computer problem. Slated to begin this spring, the effort would be one of the nation's largest municipal Y2K preparedness efforts. "We're taking this seriously," said Mayor Vera Katz. "The purpose is not to raise a tremendous amount of concern, but to be prepared for an emergency." Portland's approach is a middle ground between doomsayers who predict social collapse and naysayers who predict nothing out of the ordinary will occur on Jan. 1, 2000.

The City Council will be asked to approve as much as $150,000 to finance the outreach campaign, including a full-time public information officer, a telephone-and-Internet referral network, a city Y2K website, outreach materials and assistance from the GLOBAL ACTION PLAN FOR THE EARTH. The international environmental organization based in Woodstock, N.Y. has already been under city contract in Portland for the past three years developing "eco teams" -- small groups of households that work together to pool resources and reduce waste. The Y2K model calls for expansion of the eco team concept. Overseeing the process would be the city's OFFICE OF NEIGHBORHOOD INVOLVEMENT, which already oversees the neighborhood associations and community programs ranging from crime prevention to refugees to neighborhood mediation.

To organize nearly half a million residents, the city plans to enlist the aid of existing organizations, from the city's 93 neighborhood associations to Boy Scout troops to schools, churches and social clubs. Because nobody knows how long Y2K-related disruptions may last, residents will be coached on how to prepare for failures of basic services lasting three days, two weeks and two months. "The solution to the [Y2K] problem and many others is neighborhood involvement," said Celia Heron, interim director of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement.

Other large U.S. municipalities lauded widely for their Y2K preparations include San Diego, Ca.; Montgomery County, Md.; and Boulder County, Co. (JG)

Link: http://www.oregonlive.com/business/99/02/bz021902.html


(Sources: Christine Dugas, USA TODAY, 2/22/1999; Y2K NETWORK, 2/24/1999; DEFEND YOUR PRIVACY Website)

Bank customers are outraged about a federal proposal aimed at money laundering that they fear will invade everyone's privacy (first reported in Y2K Report 5). A record 23,000 people have flooded the FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORP. (FDIC) with complaints, and the criticism is likely to swell before the comment period expires March 8. The "Know Your Customer" rule would require banks to develop profiles of a customer's normal banking behavior, monitor transactions for suspicious activity and report to a federal database.

"It's overkill," says Ed Mierzwinski of the U.S. PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP. "If account usage suddenly changes, your bank might report you to the government." The AMERICAN BANKERS ASSOCIATION says the move could undermine confidence in the confidentiality of the banking system. Some see the proposed legislation as a move to restrict withdrawls of personal savings. Particularly concerned are people preparing for Y2K who intend to withdraw some of their savings as a buffer for uncertain times at the beginning of the Year 2000.

If you think your banking records should be private, you can make your opinions known by signing the petition at the Web address below, faxing the FDIC at: (202) 898-3838, or writing to: Robert E. Feldman, Exec. Secretary, FDIC, 550 17th St. NW, Washington, DC, 20429. Generally, a personal letter or fax "counts more" than signing a petition, especially an email petition. (JG)

Petition: http://www.defendyourprivacy.com

USA Today article (archived): http://www.usatoday.com/

Original story: http://www.wired.com/news/news/politics/story/16749.html

Full text of proposed regulation: http://www.fdic.gov/lawsregs/fedr/98knocus.txt


By James Gregory

In Y2K Report 15, we published an account entitled "Dispelling the Railway Myth" that described the depth to which the nation's railway system is automated, and thus its vulnerability to Y2K disruptions. However, UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD (UPRR), one of the nation's major railway companies has an opposing view. UPRR claims that its mainframe computer systems and all of its critical client-server systems are now certified "Y2K ready." This includes the railroad's Transportation Control System (TCS) -- the glue for railroad operations. Union Pacific began its Year 2000 project in 1994, and expects to spend a total of $46 million on the project. Union Pacific prefers to use the term "Y2K ready" instead of "Y2K compliant," said Al Reinberg, senior director on the Y2K project. "Some vendors may not certify their products to be Y2K compliant, but there are no Year 2000 issues involved in the way that the Union Pacific uses the products. Therefore, Union Pacific can be Y2K ready even though some vendor products may not be compliant."

Here are UPRR's "official" responses to some frequently-asked questions (FAQs) about their Y2K preparations:

Q: Will Union Pacific's switching be affected by equipment with Year 2000-sensitive embedded code?

A: Systems controlling switching are not date-dependent. In any case, switches can be operated manually, if needed.

Q: Is Union Pacific willing to provide a guarantee that no Year 2000-related failures will occur?

A: The problem is simply too complex for such a claim to have legitimacy. Efforts to solve Year 2000 problems are best described as 'risk mitigation.' Success in the effort will have been achieved if the number and seriousness of any technical failures is minimized, and they are quickly identified and repaired if they do occur."

Q: Which subsidiaries of Union Pacific, and railroads merged into Union Pacific, are covered by this reply?

A: Subsidiaries of Union Pacific covered include the Alton & Southern Railway, the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad, Union Pacific Distribution Services Company, Union Pacific de Mexico, and American Refrigerator Transit Company, Bulktainer, Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, Chicago and North Western Railway Company, Southern Pacific Transportation Company, the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Company, SPCSL Corp., St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company; Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railway Company, Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad Company, the Western Pacific Railroad Company.

But UPRR's systems may be more fragile and vulnerable than they would lead us to believe. A U.S. federal judge ruled recently that UPRR breached its contract to deliver coal to two ENTERGY CORP power plants in Arkansas. The failure was part of the Union Pacific's widespread operating problems in the southwestern U.S. after its acquisition of the SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD in September 1996. And according to their own website, it turns out UPRR's client-server systems won't be ready until mid-1999 at the earliest. And since they consider only 50 percent of their systems "critical," the other half will still be under repair. (Sources: UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD Year 2000 Project FAQ, 1/8/1999 via GARY NORTH'S Y2K LINKS AND FORUMS; PRNEWSWIRE, 1/25/1999; REUTERS, 2/1/1999 via GARY NORTH'S LINKS AND FORUMS)

UPRR press release: http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/990125/ne_union_p_1.html

UPRR FAQs: http://www.uprr.com/y2k/2kfaq.shtml#embed

UPRR website: http://www.uprr.com/y2k/

Link: http://biz.yahoo.com/rf/990201/4w.html


(Source: Michael Conlon, YAHOO/REUTERS, 2/24/1999 via THE YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER)

It is now possible to book an airline flight, hotel room or rental car into the Year 2000 as a major part of the travel industry finishes an early and apparently successful stare-down with the millennium bug (Y2K Report 13). But will anyone risk traveling during the first few weeks of the uncharted new millennium? While two polls last year conducted by CIO MAGAZINE found that 63 percent and 60 percent of top executives saying they would not fly in a commercial airliner on Jan. 1, 2000, a February poll asking the same question found the number had dropped to 41 percent.

Preliminary travel industry figures confirm that the world is planning to take to the skies in a big way when 2000 rolls around. Much of the traffic seems to be driven by tours and special trips being planned by travelers who want to watch the calendar make its historic turn in exotic locales. GALILEO INTERNATIONAL, which serves Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa and processes about a third of the world's travel reservations, saw a dramatic increase in reservations for 2000 compared to the amount of business booked the previous year, according to spokeswoman Julie Shepherd. "For the month of January 1999, we processed 139,741 bookings for (January) air travel in the Year 2000 compared to 34,230 bookings during January, 1998, for travel in January, 1999," a whopping 408 percent increase! This month, the APOLLO SYSTEM that serves North America, Japan and parts of the Caribbean processed 34,917 travel reservations for the first four days of January 2000, an increase of more than 13 percent from a year ago, she added.

The fact that hotel, airline and car rental companies have been able to move their businesses into 2000 with no major computer-related glitches has cheered the travel industry. But the actual state of air travel in 2000 remains open to speculation. The FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION believes its domestic air traffic control system "is in good shape," according to spokesman Paul Takemoto. But internationally, "It's a mixed bag. You could pick 10 countries and have 10 different levels of Y2K readiness," Takemoto admits. With so many systems impacting traffic worldwide, "there may well be international delays." (JG)

Link: http://www.yahoo.co.uk/headlines/19990224/business/0919828562-0000006987.html



(Source: Robert MacMillan, NEWSBYTES, 2/18/1999 via SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS)

The U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION (SEC) has posted an online database of approximately 13,000 Y2K disclosures from transfer agents, companies, and broker-dealers. Users seeking information are instructed to type in either the company's name or its SEC registration number. The SEC cautions that the database is incomplete and not all filings are approved. Many companies have failed to turn in the mandatory reports, which are supposed to detail how they will cope with the impending date change. So far, the SEC has assessed $335,000 in fines against 29 companies for Y2K disclosure delinquency. (JG)

SEC Website: http://www.sec.gov/

Link: http://www.newsbytes.com/pubNews/126580.html



(Source: Janet Naylor, THE DETROIT NEWS, 2/25/1999 via THE YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER)

Pizza lovers need not go deprived in the Year 2000. Amid concerns that Y2K may cause food shortages because of ordering or delivery snags, pizzaman Mark O'Brien has developed freeze-dried pizza slices with a two-year shelf life. In the event of utility interruptions, they can even be eaten without cooking. "I've always felt like doing something different with pizza," said O'Brien, owner of THE PIZZA MAKER INC. He is marketing his vacuum-packed, crackly concoction primarily over the Internet, where a case of 12 slices costs $19.95, plus $5 shipping. Terry Wilbur of Waterford, MI is hooked, and recently ordered two cases. "It's a really good snack, and it's better than chips." One Canadian firm has expressed interest in packing slices along with flares and other emergency items in Y2K survival kits. (JG)

Link: http://www.detnews.com/1999/metro/9902/25/02250082.htm


(Source: Y2K SOLUTIONS, Jan. 1999)

STAR TELECOM NETWORK has issued a telephone card commemorating the Year 2000 crisis. On the back side of the card is the warning: "Use before Dec. 31st, 1999. Phone system is not guaranteed after that date." (JG)


Copyright 1999 by NewHeavenNewEarth

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