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Office of Governor Gary Locke
Contact:  Contact: Dave Workman, 360-586-4280

Y2K Readiness Report details technology preparations

OLYMPIA — Gov. Gary Locke today released the first Washington State Year 2000 Readiness Report, the most extensive review ever done of Y2K technology-transition preparations in Washington.

The report is a product of the State Year 2000 Office and the agencies of state government, and has information from local government and private-sector companies.

The new report is designed to share the most current information in Washington on steps taken to find and repair technology problems that might occur as a result of the millennium date change. It identifies sources of information more specific to individual needs, helping Washington residents make their own plans for the Year 2000 transition.

This is the first of three volumes of the Readiness Report. It provides information on the state of readiness in these service sectors: electricity, telecommunications, financial services, natural gas and petroleum, water supply and treatment, emergency management, transportation, local government and Washington state government. Future reports, in July and November, will look at additional sectors in the state.

Here are some highlights of the report:

- The U.S. Department of Energy has asked the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) to coordinate Y2K efforts so that electricity power production and delivery systems in the United States maintain a reliable supply of electricity during the Year 2000 transition.

- NERC recommends utilities conduct tests by May 31, 1999, and that critical systems and components are Year 2000 ready by June 30, 1999. Consequently, the "transition through critical Y2K rollover dates is expected to have minimal impact on electric system operations in North America," according to the January 1999 NERC report.

- The Year 2000 isn't a single event. Its effects will be spread out over several years as a result of the wide variety of fiscal years, technology differences and other factors around the globe. Analysis by an international technology consulting firm, the Gartner Group, indicates that only 8 to 10 percent of technology failures related to Y2K will occur during the first two weeks of 2000.

- Solving the Y2K problem is a management challenge. It is a matter of setting priorities about what needs to be fixed, devoting adequate personnel and financial resources to the project and developing contingency plans in case internal or external systems malfunction.

- Many service providers have self-imposed early deadlines — requiring mission-critical systems to be ready several months ahead of the date change. Likewise, many regulatory bodies have set early deadlines for their regulated industries.

- The nation's largest local and long distance telecommunications carriers expect to be 100 percent ready, including having their contingency plans in place, by the second quarter of 1999, according to a March 1999 "Y2K Communications Sector Report." The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) produced the report, in conjunction with The Network Reliability and Interoperability Council.

- The nation's remaining telecommunications carriers, defined as medium and small, lag behind the large carriers in their remediation and contingency planning efforts, according to the FCC. Nearly half the medium and small carriers surveyed by the FCC reported not having formal processes for managing Year 2000.

- In consultation with the U.S. Coast Guard, the state Department of Transportation has identified and prioritized mechanical bridges that must be opened to marine traffic. In cases of potential power outages, DOT crews are prepared to open some bridges the old-fashioned way — manually — if necessary.

The Year 2000, or Y2K, computer problem is caused by a shortcut used in many information technology systems. Years ago, to conserve valuable data storage space, control costs, and reduce entry time, computer programmers used two digits rather than four to record the year. For example, 98 would mean 1998.

Many date-sensitive information technology systems have used this older two-digit year coding, and recognize 00 as 1900, rather than as 2000. If not fixed, this could cause systems to malfunction.

In developing the Readiness Report and other information about Y2K, the State Year 2000 Office, within the Office of Financial Management, is working with a diverse group of more than 20 private and public sector executives and technology leaders, who serve on the Washington State Year 2000 Advisory Board.

The Washington State Year 2000 Readiness Report will be available in many libraries around the state. The report, and other information about Y2K, are available on-line. A limited number of copies may be requested through a message line at 360-586-4204.

Year 2000 Readiness Disclosure
NOTE: The information in this news release should be considered a re-publication for purposes of the Information Readiness and Disclosure Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-271, 112 Stat. 2386).

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