U.S. Senator Robert Bennett (R-Utah) has been named the head of a special committee on y2k. He says that it's now too late to fix every U.S. government system that is not compliant.
It's clear that he believes in triage: saving what must be fixed to allow the government to survive. He actually uses this word: "survive."
The must-fix areas of the economy are all outside of the Federal government: public utilities (the power grid), telecommunications, transportation, and financial services.
This is from the Utah DESERET NEWS (April 29).
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But as Bennett took the job, he announced that it may already be too late for repentance by for computer-owning businesses and utilities. "In fact, the time to solve the entire problem is gone. We do not have enough time," he told a Capitol press conference. "We have to set our priorities, and say these portions of the Y2K problem have to be solved because they're mission critical — (and) these are ones we will get to if we have enough time . . . but if we don't get to them we'll survive." . . .
Bennett said his top worry, for example, is public utilities — which "could cripple us if they're not fixed."
He said, "We have to make sure the power grid operates. But utilities also include such things as clean water . . . The processing and controlling of water purification plants and so on are run by computer," and could easily fail on Jan. 1, 2000.
Next in his order of priority are telecommunications. "There's already a major national telecommunications firm that has announced to its customers that it will not guarantee a dial tone on any of its telephones outside the United States and certain parts of Europe after Jan. 1, 2000," Bennett said.
The next big worry is transportation. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who will be the top Democrat on the new committee, noted two Federal Aviation Administration officials told a previous hearing Bennett held that "they would not take a flight on Jan. 1, 2000. IBM has indicated its computers may not be able to handle the traffic flows on that date." Bennett added that besides air traffic, "Truck traffic is monitored by computers. Rail traffic (also has) cars (that) are routed by computers."
He said he also worries about financial services (where bank accounts and credit card powers could disappear), government services (including mailing Social Security checks) and general business services. For example, "General Motors has done a survey in every one of its manufacturing facilities and found that every one of them could be shut down with Y2K problems." . . .
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., a member of the new committee. "I have no proof that the sun is about to rise on the apocalyptic millennium of which chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation speaks, nor do I have proof that, armed with flood and catastrophe, the Four Horsemen will arrive on Jan. 1, 2000. "Yet, it is becoming apparent to all of us that a once seemingly innocuous computer glitch relating to how computers recognize dates could wreak worldwide havoc," he said.
He added it could "cause the failure of weapons systems, widespread disruption of business operations, possible misdiagnosis or improper medical treatment . . . and incorrect traffic signals at street corners across the country."