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1998-05-18 16:20:05


Partial Y2K Blackout Begins in U.S. Military



You know trhe y2k problem is serious -- deadly serious -- when the National Security Agency intervenes to place a blackout on the y2k status of the military. The data base now placed off limits was a coordinating device. The Department of Defense is already way behind. This will slow things down even more.

If this information were not crucial, it would not be classified. This is more evidence of the seriousness of the problem.

This is from FEDERAL COMPUTER WEEK (May 18).

* * * * * * *

The National Security Agency has slapped a security blanket on the Pentagon's efforts to fix the Year 2000 millennium bug, which could further slow the Defense Department's already-behind-schedule Year 2000 fixes.

NSA has determined that all information detailing DOD's computers and its efforts to fix the Year 2000 problem are a "national security interest" and "highly sensitive." As a result, the Pentagon has cut off the military services and DOD project offices from the Defense Integrated Support Tool (DIST) database, which the Defense Information Systems Agency maintains to provide details on all DOD computer systems and interfaces for use in planning and deployment. . . .

DOD began using DIST to track Year 2000 compliance in August 1996, and a Dec. 19, 1997, memo from the Office of the Secretary of Defense to DOD chief information officers identified DIST as the "central, authoritative database for tracking resolution of the Year 2000-related problems for systems throughout the department."

That aggregation of extensive details about Year 2000 problems with DOD systems poses a threat to national security, according to NSA.

"The DOD's Y2K conversion effort is a national security interest," NSA reported in a statement supplied to FCW. "All information detailing these information systems and the progress being made toward their conversions is considered to be highly sensitive."

DOD is not trying to cover up information about its Year 2000 efforts, a DOD spokeswoman said. "We couldn't hide what we're doing if we wanted to, and we certainly don't want to," she said. "The idea is to move these fixes along at the fastest possible clip but not to jeopardize other security measures as we do it."

While industry and service sources said they could understand NSA's security concerns, they said the classification could hobble the Pentagon's already-delayed Year 2000 remediation efforts. One former high-ranking DOD official described the classification issue as symptomatic of what he called the Pentagon's "gross mismanagement" of Year 2000 issues. . . .

William Curtis, DOD's Year 2000 czar, said last week that the classification of the DIST database is "no big deal... we're going to have a new Y2K database up at the end of May."

Classifying the DIST database does not necessarily mean cutting off access, said Cynthia Rand, former principal director for information management at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (ASD/C3I). "Does [classifying DIST] make it more cumbersome? Yes, it does," said Rand, now a director for business development for civilian agencies at Lucent Technologies Inc. "But there are ways [access could be provided]. It's a change from what was done before, and we need to make the change quickly."

But a Pentagon source said the DIST classification has slowed efforts across DOD to complete an inventory of all of the agency's information systems and the systems' corresponding Year 2000 problems. The inventory was originally due in March.

Szafran said it may take the Navy until November to complete its inventory -- just a little more than a year before 2000. . . .

Olga Grkavac, senior vice president with the Information Technology Association of America's Systems Integration Division, said that although she understood NSA's concerns, the Pentagon needs a Year 2000 database, particularly to help resolve system interface issues.

"DOD is lagging behind other agencies" in making Year 2000 fixes,'' Grkavac said, "and this is information it needs to have to fix the Year 2000 problem. There has to be a way to put all the critical systems information in a database that people [working on Year 2000] can gain access to.''


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