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1998-05-22 18:00:39


Social Security Draws Up Contingency Plans



The Social Security System, long regarded as the most y2k advanced of all government agencies, is singing a new tune lately: contingency plans.

Kasthleen Adams, who is in charge of the project, says that in 1997, failure was not on the horizon. Now it is.

They are considering going back to paper and ink. Good. This is the only thing that will save any outfit. But big ones can't do it. That's why y2k is such a threat.

Besides, it takes training programs and experienced managers to teach people how to learn totally new information and command systems. It also takes a brilliant original design. It takes knowledge. This knowledge has been lost. We are about to enter the Alzheimer's economy.


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WILLIAMSBURG, Va.—When the General Accounting Office in February 1997 advised the Social Security Administration to establish year 2000 contingency plans, agency executives were skeptical. But not any more.

SSA, widely viewed as one of the agencies best prepared for the millennium date change, is the first to have a plan for systems failure.

GAO is now recommending that agencies use SSA’s Business Continuity and Contingency Plan (BCCP) as a basis for their own plans. And agencies should feel free to do so, said Kathleen M. Adams, assistant deputy commissioner of SSA for systems. . . .

SSA’s 32-page contingency document includes a detailed plan for each core task, many of which, Adams said, will be painful to implement.

“None of the contingency plans are good,” she said. “That’s why they’re contingencies.” Many involve reverting to paper processes until systems can be repaired.

Adams described herself as a convert to contingency planning.

“In 1997, that was not our focus,” she said. “Our contingency plan was to be ready a year ahead of time. The likelihood was that everything is going to be ready; it’s not.”


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