The Co-Intelligence Institute // CII home // Y2K home
From: Cynthia Beal
The Clinton administration yesterday unveiled a miracle. Federal
apparently pulled off a Y2K remediation marvel using some yet-unmentioned
technique or technology still apparently being kept secret. Agencies that
weren't finished with remediation just weeks or months ago have now finished
remediation, testing, and implementation: a process that most Y2K project
managers agree takes years. Said John Koskinen, the President's Y2K czar,
"These systems have gone through the full stages of not only analysis and
assessment, but remediation, testing and implementation."
This, announced by the Clinton administration on the 3/31/1999
Thirteen of 24 agencies are now self-reporting they are 100% compliant, and
the Clinton administration claims that a total of 92% of all so-called
"mission-critical" systems have been fixed. This is a gigantic leap from the
80% reported compliance just two weeks ago by the U.S. Office of Management
and Budget (OMB). That's right: 12% progress in just two weeks... if you
Of course, the claims are highly suspect. Even the press can't
get this story
straight. Today's news from the Associated Press contains these two
contradictory lines: "The President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion reported
that 92 percent of the government's 24 largest agencies are Y2K compliant."
And, "Koskinen said 13 of the 24 federal departments now report their mission-
critical systems are 100 percent compliant."
Ninety-two percent of 24 agencies comes to 22 agencies, not
the 13 being
claimed by Koskinen. Once again, even mainstream, respectable news outlets are
confusing the claims (and the public). See:
HOW IT WAS "ACHIEVED"
As we documented over the last few days, the federal government
over 3,000 systems from the "mission-critical" list, allowing agencies to
claim compliance on the remaining systems (which largely turned out to be the
ones that were repaired). Some people argue that the initial effort to
categorize systems might have been sloppy, and this is simply a cleanup of the
list. If this were true, however, we would see some systems being dropped and
others being added to the list. But this is not what's happening. Recent
events surrounding "The List" can only be described as a wholesale cleansing
effort to remove non-compliant systems from scrutiny.
Even more, the claims made today seem to have left out details
on the testing
and implementation phases of Y2K repairs. We know this is approximately half
the job, requiring at least a year for testing of large-scale systems. Are we
to believe that testing has already been completed?
If so, our federal government pulled off a miracle. This one
will go down in
history as proof that government is highly effective and can create new
technologies or techniques at a moment's notice any time sufficient need
arises. If this is true, fire all the private-sector programmers and
entrepreneurs: government can do it better, it turns out.
Which is more likely: that bureaucrats engineered a programming
record time, completed year-long testing in months, and overcame incredible
odds through the dedicated work of genius employees? ...or that our federal
government is still fudging the numbers in order to paint a pretty picture?
YOU GUESSED IT
The answer is obvious: we're still being fed half-truths about Y2K in an
effort to get us to look the other way. And it's working. The press largely
refuses to comment on the fraudulent nature of the claims, blindly repeating
the good-news claims, totally absent the usual journalistic standards of
proof. If a new herb cures a man's cancer, the press scoffs. "Where's the
proof?" But when an un-trusted, highly-inefficient federal bureaucracy pulls
off the greatest programming miracle in history, it's reported as fact. No
questions asked. No demands for proof.
Notably, both CNET Radio and a CBS News affiliate contacted
for comments yesterday. A few news organizations, thankfully, are making an
effort to get both sides of the story.
Remember, the claims now being made are as follows:
92% of all mission-critical systems have been repaired
These systems have not only been repaired, they have all been tested
Furthermore, all the systems have been implemented, on-line,
and they're up
and running right now.
These claims lead us to some important questions. Fifty-two
of them, in fact.
Feel free to share this list with anyone you know who is even slightly
interested in Y2K:
52 Y2K QUESTIONS ABOUT THE 92 PERCENT
All the questions journalists should be asking, but aren't.
Where are the statistics showing system testing results?
How many bugs were actually found?
How many bugs were actually fixed?
Who independently verified the systems are now working (and
where is their
When exactly did these systems go on-line?
If the federal government really has a handle on the Y2K problem,
why did Y2K
remediation costs unexpectedly rise nearly $3 billion to a newly-estimated
For how many days have these systems been running on-line?
Were any problems experienced when the systems went on-line,
or did everything
Why didn't we hear announcements of agencies moving into the testing phase?
Why didn't we hear the announcements of agencies moving into
What is the name of the project manager at each federal agency
who is signing
off on the full compliance of these systems?
What is the name of the lead programmer at each federal agency
who is now
looking for new work?
What is the status of the previously-categorized "mission-critical"
that were dropped from the list?
Have the systems been end-to-end tested?
How many embedded systems were checked for compliance?
How many faulty embedded systems were found?
How many embedded systems were replaced?
When were all the programmers fired?
Did the agency complete a roll-forward clock test?
How long does it take the FAA to finish the last 1%?
When will Social Security actually be end-to-end compliant?
Have these federal systems been tested with local and state computer systems?
What is the definition of "mission-critical?"
What is the definition of "compliant?"
Have any self-reported compliance numbers been verified?
For each agency, what are the qualifications of the person
compliance claims? (Any large-scale software project experience?)
For each agency, how many programmers were hired, and how many
Have inter-agency data exchanges been tested?
How long will it take to fix the last 8% of the mission-critical systems?
How long will it take to fix the non-mission-critical systems?
What happens to government services if the last 8% aren't fixed?
What is the deadline for fixing non-mission-critical systems? Or is there one?
Exactly how did the federal government finish testing and implementation
under three months when it takes well-coordinated companies at least a year to
do the same?
What is the Y2K compliance status of the IRS?
Did the Clinton administration take the agencies' word on their
statistics without verification?
Will both Clinton and Koskinen put their political careers
on the line to
stand behind the compliance, testing and implementation claims?
What, exactly, did the Y2K project milestone calendar look
like from each
If March 31 was the deadline for full compliance, and given
that this was not
achieved, is the federal government willing to admit the deadline was missed?
Why haven't there been any punishments for agencies caught
lying about their
Is it possible that some systems thought to be fixed still
have problems? And
if so, what is the deadline for fixing these new problems?
Will the federal government share its secret of software remediation
with private industry so that we can all get compliant in just a few weeks?
Furthermore, will the federal government share its secret miracle
the rest of the world so that global economic disruptions are no longer a
Who is the person (or team) in the federal government that
miracle software remediation technique, and does that person have a patent on
If the federal government is 92% finished on repairs, has it
also spent 92% of
the needed Y2K remediation funds, or will it need more funds to complete the
If the FAA takes six months to complete the last 1%, how many
months does it
take the entire federal government to complete the last 8%?
If the federal government is now compliant and the danger has
passed, will the
President now promise the nation that he will not be 'surprised' by Y2K
problems and declare a national emergency?
If the federal government's Y2K problem has been solved, will
resign and move on to something else?
If problems actually occur with mission-critical systems on
or after 1/1/2000,
which bureaucrat will accept the responsibility for the failure?
On what hard evidence should the public believe the claims
testing and implementation?
Are the systems in the "last 8%" the same size or
the same difficulty to fix
as the systems in the first 92? Or did these agencies fix the easy systems
Will the federal government now thank Peter de Jager, Gary
North, Ed Yourdon,
Michael Hyatt, and the numerous Y2K web sites for sounding the alarm and
rallying the troops to get this problem fixed so quickly?
Does a single person with large-scale software project experience
work in the
Clinton administration? If so, is this person also willing to stand behind the