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1997-05-17 00:00:00


Most British Firms Have Not Begun Their Repairs


This Reuter's posting makes it clear just how far behind the British are, and how interdependent we all are. The possibility of a catastrophic breakdown is at least mentioned in passing.

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Tuesday May 13 9:59 AM EDT

Smaller UK Companies Face Millennium Bug Sting By Neil Winton, Science and Technology Correspondent

LONDON - Most small and medium sized British companies are still unaware that the millennium computer bug threatens their survival, experts said. And although most bigger British companies are aware of the bug, more than 90 percent have yet to complete an internal audit of their information technology systems, the experts told a news conference. . . .

Companies may go bankrupt, health services could be crippled, pension and social security payments might go awry, power stations and telephone systems may stutter or fail.

"Our last survey at the end of last year showed that two thirds of managers of big corporations were aware of the problem, but only nine percent of organisations had completed an audit of their computer systems," said Margaret Joachim, assistant director of Taskforce 2000.

Taskforce 2000 was set up by the British government to raise awareness of the millennium bug problem.

"We think nothing much has changed since the end of the year. It still isn't good. Small and medium sized enterprises are still not aware that it (the millennium bug) affects them," Joachim said.

Tony Lewis, executive director of the Computer Software Services Association, said because many large companies use thousands of small companies as suppliers, they would face disruption to their businesses even if their own computer systems were bug-free.

Lewis cited food store chain J. Sainsbury Plc. "Look at Sainsbury. It's got about 7,000 suppliers. They all have to be compliant," Lewis said.

Other experts at the news conference said that although Britain's situation was worrying, industry had made more progress than other European countries such as Germany and France.

Scarce programming capacity in Germany and France was concentrating on preparing business for monetary union, scheduled to start on January 1, 1999.

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