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1998-05-13 08:03:59


Y2K Czar Describes Council's Role: Coordinating Goo



On April 1, John Koskinen testified before a Senate Committee. He described his view of role of the newly created Year 2000 Presidential Council. Basically, the Council's role is to . . . um . . . well, you know . . . like that.

To sum up: "the Council should be a catalyst, using existing structures and resources, to create an ongoing dialogue on the year 2000 implications for these activities."

Somehow, I don't think Mr. Koskinen has an advanced degree in one of the hard sciences. Or, for that matter, one of the easier ones.

But I am sure he can facilitate. And so is he. He told a joint meeting of two House subcommittees on March 18, "The Council also should be a facilitator, to promote the fruitful exchange of ideas and information on best practices and the resolution of common problems. Finally, the Council should be coordinator, to ensure that resources are being used effectively across organizational boundaries."

The trinity of modern management has now been invoked:




Is there any remaining doubt in your mind that the y2k problem is as good as solved?

* * * * * * * * *







April 1, 1998

Good morning, Mr. Chairman. I am pleased to appear before the committee to discuss the year 2000 problem and my new role as Chair of the Presidentís Council on Year 2000 Conversion. . . .

The Councilís Role

There is no question that the challenges are great, and I am confident that our newly established Council will play an important role in meeting those challenges. However, we need to carefully structure the Councilís activities to maximize its effectiveness.

It is important for the Council not to interfere with or duplicate the good work that is currently underway in the agencies and is being done by the CIO Council and other interagency management councils. The Council should also build on, rather than try to replace, OMBís important oversight role in monitoring and reporting information gathered from the agencies.

The Council needs to remain aware of the progress resulting from these efforts, which have been appropriately focused primarily on systems managed by or for the Federal Government. However, we have an obligation to the public to view this as more than just a Federal systems problem. We need to adopt a global perspective, and I think the Councilís real contribution will be in encouraging the agencies to expand their year 2000 outreach efforts to include those outside the Federal government -- whether they be Tribal, State and local governments, private sector organizations, or international institutions -- and in coordinating those efforts at a government-wide level.

Rather than independently creating and directly managing new national forums for specific sectors of the economy such as financial institutions and the health care industry, the Council should be a catalyst, using existing structures and resources, to create an ongoing dialogue on the year 2000 implications for these activities. . . .

Our immediate goal has to be to ensure that, to the extent possible, leaders of organizations throughout the United States and the world are asking the right questions -- Do we have a problem? What is the nature of that problem? What should we be doing to fix it? And are the organizations that we work with or depend upon prepared to deal with the transition to the year 2000? My experience as a crisis manager in both the public and private sectors is that once leaders ask the right questions, the work gets done. I believe that most senior executives in the Federal agencies are asking these questions, and the Councilís job is to ensure that leaders outside the Government are asking them as well.

Let me now turn to describing more specifically what the Council will be doing.

Working with the Agencies. . . .

Outreach: Beyond the Federal Government. . . .

Working Through Interagency Management Councils. . . .

The Balancing Act

There is no doubt that the year 2000 problem poses significant challenges to our Government, our Nation, and the world. Those of us who are committed to solving this problem will have to perform a delicate balancing act over the next 21 months. While it is important to increase world-wide attention to the urgent necessity of solving this problem, we need to avoid creating panic and precipitous, counterproductive activity. We, and, with our help, the public need to understand that -- despite our best efforts -- not every system will function effectively. Our goal should be that any disruptions to services will be minor inconveniences to the American people. The best way for us to spend the next 21 months will be to address the challenges that lie before us, in a very aggressive but measured way, by marshaling the resources at our disposal in the most effective way possible to achieve that goal.

I thank the committee for its interest in the year 2000 problem. You can make a valuable contribution to the public dialogue about this matter. I look forward to working with you, and I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.


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