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1998-02-04 21:47:02


Y2K Expert Calls on Clinton to Draft Gore



Harris Miller is the president of the Internaional Technology Association of America (ITAA). He has testified to Congress on the y2k problem. The y2k repairs, he says, are moving far too slowly. President Clinton must appoint Al Gore to head a y2k task force. His list of problem areas that have not yet been dealt with is, as he says, daunting.

He published this open letter to President Clinton on December 27.

Al Gore went to Harvard. I'll bet he has seen "Titanic." I think he can put two and to together, or even 19 and 00. He will not touch this one with a ten-foot pole.

* * * * * * *

Dear Mr. President:

The information technology industry is increasingly concerned that the federal government has failed to address adequately the preparations necessary for computers, telecommunications and other software-dependent and embedded chip systems to work properly in the New Millennium. With relatively little time remaining before January 1, 2000, these actions must be taken expeditiously, especially because most systems require extensive testing throughout 1999 to ensure they will function properly in the next century.

As the nation's leading industry association for the Year 2000 (Y2K) issue, the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) is calling upon you to create a Task Force under the leadership of the Vice President to 1) increase attention to solutions in the Federal government, 2) assist states and localities in solving their Year 2000 challenges, and 3) begin tracking the implementation of Year 2000 modifications in the commercial sector and urge speedier action, especially for critical industries and small and medium sized enterprises. Such a Task Force, including representatives of all segments of our national life which provide and use these information systems, would be tasked with bringing greater attention, and urging increased action to address this situation. Our public policy makers must make greater use of the "Bully Pulpit," and such vehicles as the Vice President's National Performance Review initiative to provide, respectively, increased governmental activity and marketplace assurances to this matter.

While recognizing the important contributions of Congressional and Administration actions to date, ITAA believes the federal government as a whole must, as expeditiously as possible:

•Provide the requisite national leadership to move all sectors of the economy to prepare critical business and infrastructure systems;

•Encourage U.S. trading partners, global financial markets and defense allies to confront the situation directly and immediately;

•Move beyond the awareness and assessment stages of preparation and into the renovation, validation and implementation stages; and

•Deal effectively with state and local governments to assure system interoperability and the smooth flow of business transactions and information between government agencies at all levels.

ITAA is concerned that the federal government's failure to exercise its leadership responsibilities will have damaging consequences for U.S. citizens, organizations, and the global economy. As a catalyst for greater federal government involvement in this vitally important matter, ITAA offers the following observations and recommendations:

•Time will not allow for yet another study of this subject to be prepared by a national commission;

•Because the Chief Information Officers of federal agencies have cited Y2K as the number one priority for the next several years, it requires the application of appropriately sized resources;

•Currently, federal agencies estimate the costs through the Year 2000 will be approximately $3.8 billion, or about 2 percent of the annual budgets for information technology throughout this period;

•Independent industry estimates have determined that the actual cost of these preparations will be many times this amount;

•The Administration's announced plans to absorb Year 2000 costs out of existing agency budgets for information technology, regardless of the actual costs, seem to be extremely shortsighted, particularly because such an approach is bound to leave a high pent-up demand for new information systems development early in the next century;

•Congress has failed to utilize the Fiscal Year 1998 authorization and appropriations cycle to provide the resources necessary for making federal preparations for the Year 2000.

•These costs should include modifications of technology embedded into weapons systems, classified systems, buildings and other facilities, and the federal portion of state information systems;

•Separate budget line items should be utilized for this purpose, rather than the use of reprogramming action that will merely shift the shortfall to other technology areas sorely needed as "workforce multipliers";

•The Department of Labor should begin tracking the availability of skilled personnel needed to make these preparations;

•The United States Trade Representative, the Department of State, the Department of Commerce, and the United States Ambassador to the United Nations should begin tracking preparations being made by the global community in readiness for the next century;

•While greatly improved, federal procurement regulations should continue to be reviewed and, as necessary, reformed to allow federal agencies to gain the maximum practical benefit from commercial Y2K product and services firms; and

•Federal agencies and Departments, especially the Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration, should undertake a vigorous public education campaign, directed especially at small and medium enterprises which may not understand the full implications of or have the resources to attack adequately the Year 2000 challenges.

In summary, national and international dependence on information technology is greater than ever before. Industry and government must work together to address expeditiously and effectively the Y2K issue. This action must take many forms, from the plainly practical steps required to implement technical solutions to the larger, traditional concerns of leadership, vision and responsible governance.

We look forward to continuing to work with you in taking the steps and building the bridges necessary to make the transition into the next millennium as transparent as possible. The consequences for doing any less could be daunting.


Harris N. Miller President, ITAA


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