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US Senate Y2K Report 3/2/1999

Here are notes about the March 2, 1999, Senate Y2K report. The full report is available at

To read the report, you need the Adobe Acrobat Reader available free from:

I've also included the Washington Post's story of the Senate report.

Subject: US Senate report on Y2K
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 19:53:59 -0500

The release of the US Senate Special Committee on Y2K's report,
Investigating the Impact of the Year 2000 problem, is a significant
milestone. Not only has it brought unprecedented attention to the problem, but
has given considerable legitimacy and weight behind many of the arguments that
we have been addressing for quite some time.

There is very little in the 160+page report that is new. In many ways it is a
restatement of the many findings the committee has established over the past
year. What is powerful about the report (and there is much that is debatable
and possibly out-of-date) is the impact it will have in bringing all of the
assessments and estimates together in one publication - a publication which has
the seal of the US Senate on the front cover.

The document is available online and I would encourage you to look through it.
As a public service, I have typed out the salient points from the Executive
Summary and have included them below. I would
encourage you to use it in your dealings with industry, government, local
communities and your relatives! It provides an excellent starting point for
discussion and a useful tool for quoting back to skeptical journalists.

Whatever you may feel about Senators Bennett and Dodd, they are to be
congratulated in their extraordinary persistence and stamina in conducting these
hearings and for publishing this report. By the way, they stress that this is a
preliminary report and that a follow up report will be published nearer the end
of the year.

Yours in preparation,

Stephen Balkam
Northwest DC Year 2000 Group
President, Recreational Software Advisory Council


(extracts from the Executive Summary of the US Senate report on Y2K)

Investigating the Impact of the Year 2000 Problem

The United States Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem

February 24, 1999


Many organizations critical to Americans' safety and well-being are still not
fully engaged in finding a solution.

Most affected industries and organizations started Y2K remediation too late.

Self-reporting has yielded unreliable assessments for most industry sectors.
With few exceptions, disclosure of Y2K compliance is poor.

Fear of litigation and loss of competitive advantage are the most commonly cited
reasons for bare-bones disclosure.

National emergency and security planning for Y2K-related systems failures is
just beginning.

Leadership at the highest levels is lacking.


While some compliance efforts are behind, the utility industry as a whole is
configured to handle interruptions, blackouts, and natural disasters. A
prolonged, nation-wide blackout is not likely to occur. However, local and
regional outages remain a distinct possibility depending upon the overall
preparedness of the individual electric utility serving a given area.


The health care industry lags significantly in its Y2K preparations compared to
other sectors. Because of limited resources and lack of awareness, rural and
inner-city hospitals have particularly high Y2K risk exposure.


A massive industry-wide effort is underway to assess the impact of Y2K on
telecommunications. The initial interoperability testing indicates that the
U.S. communications will transition without significant problems. Currently,
more than 80% of public network systems have been tested and are considered


The transportation sector is the linchpin for just-in-time inventory management
across most every sector, from health care supplies to food. The Y2K readiness
of this sector is critical to our global economy. Planes will not fall out of
the sky, but disruption of flights and global trade between some areas and
countries may occur.


ATMs are expected to function correctly and banks should have adequate cash to
meet consumer demand, based on a Federal Reserve estimate that each American
household will withdraw an average of $500. The securities industry has
responded well to its internal Y2K issues and has undertaken expansive testing.
However, fund managers and brokers have only recently started to consider the
implication of corporate Y2K vulnerability on investment decisions.


Several state and many local governments lag in Y2K remediation, raising the
risk of service disruption. The federal government will spend in excess of
$7.5billion and will not be able to renovate, test, and implement all of its
mission critical systems in time. However, wholesale failure of federal
government services is not likely to occur.


In general, large companies have dealt well with the Y2K problem, due to greater
resources. Very small businesses may survive using manual processes until Y2K
problems are remediated. However, many small and medium-sized business are
extremely unprepared for Y2K disruptions. One survey shows that more than 40%
of 14 million small businesses do not plan to take any action.


Several U.S. trading partners are severely behind in their Y2K remediation
efforts. For example, the Gartner Group estimates that Venezuela and Saudi
Arabia (two of the largest U.S. oil importers) are 12 to 18 months behind the
U.S. in their Y2K remediation efforts.

_ _ _ _ _

Excerpts from Washington Post article on the Senate report:

Senators Warn Of Y2K Glitch's Impact Abroad
Panel's Report Says Americans Needn't Panic

By Stephen Barr Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 3, 1999; Page A04

Countries that have not paid sufficient attention to the Year 2000 computer problem will likely face economic disruption and some nations could find electronic breakdowns setting off civil unrest, senators warned yesterday.

"There is a high probability of economic impact in selected areas of the world, in particular parts of South America, [other parts of] Latin America, Africa and Asia, with subsequent consequences unknown," said Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah), chairman of a special Senate committee on Year 2000 technology issues.


Dodd said the Senate committee published its 160-page report "to discount what I call the Y2K survivalist mentality . . . that this is going to be Armageddon. We also want to discount those who suggest that there is no problem here whatsoever. That would equally be untrue. There is a problem here."


Dodd singled out health care providers -- doctors, hospitals and nursing homes -- as especially lagging on Y2K repairs. "At this juncture, these medical delivery systems are in trouble," he said. More than 80 percent of doctors' offices are not Y2K ready, and 64 percent of the nation's 6,000 hospitals "still have serious problems," Dodd said.


The worrisome nature of the Y2K problem was underscored recently at the Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant in southern Pennsylvania. The plant was testing Y2K repairs to a computer system that feeds data into a monitoring system when part of the monitoring system stopped operating.

Technicians, for reasons that Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials could not explain, tried to restart the test, triggering a shutdown of the entire monitoring system, which, among other things, is designed to detect unsafe operating conditions. Plant operators then decided to manually shut down a reactor monitored by the system.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company