Year 2000 Computing CrisisAdditional Work Remains to Ensure Delivery of Critical Services Gao ID: T-AIMD-99-143 April 13, 1999
The federal government, with its widespread dependence on complex computer systems to deliver vital public services, faces an especially difficult task in overcoming the Year 2000 computer challenge. Unless adequately dealt with, Year 2000 problems could seriously disrupt key federal operations, from national defense to benefits payments to air traffic management. This testimony discusses (1) the status of the federal government's remediation of its mission-critical systems, (2) the remaining challenges facing the government in ensuring the continuity of business operations (namely end-to-end testing and business continuity and contingency planning) and the Office of Management and Budget's efforts to identify the government's high-impact programs, and (3) the readiness of state systems that are essential to the delivery of federal human services programs.
GAO noted that: (1) addressing the year 2000 problem is a tremendous challenge for the federal government; (2) to meet this challenge and monitor individual agency efforts, OMB directed the major departments and agencies to submit quarterly reports on their progress, beginning on May 15, 1997; (3) these reports contain information on where agencies stand with respect to the assessment, renovation, validation, and implementation of mission-critical systems, as well as other management information; (4) the federal government's most recent reports show improvement in addressing the year 2000 problem; (5) while much work remains, the federal government has significantly increased the percentage of mission-critical systems that are reported to be year 2000 compliant; (6) in particular, while the federal government did not meet its goal of having all mission-critical systems compliant by March 1999, 92 percent of these systems were reported to have met this goal; (7) while this progress is notable, 11 agencies did not meet OMB's deadline for all of their mission-critical systems; (8) to ensure that their mission-critical systems can reliably exchange data with other systems and that they are protected from errors that can be introduced by external systems, agencies must perform end-to-end testing of their critical core business processess; (9) OMB and the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion announced that one of the key priorities that federal agencies will be pursuing during the rest of 1999 will be cooperative efforts regarding end-to-end testing to demonstrate the year 2000 readiness of federal programs with states and other partners critical to the administration of those programs; (10) OMB called on federal agencies to identify and report on the high-level core business functions that are to be addressed in their business continuity and contingency plans in their February 1999 quarterly reports; (11) accordingly, in their February 1999 reports, almost all agencies listed their high-level core business functions; (12) OMB issued a memorandum to federal agencies designating lead agencies for the government's 42 high-impact programs; (13) OMB directed the lead agencies to provide a schedule and milestones of key activities in their year 2000 plans by April 15; (14) in January 1999, OMB implemented a requirement that federal oversight agencies include the status of selected state human services systems in their quarterly reports; and (15) specifically, OMB requested that the agencies describe actions to help ensure that federally supported, state-run programs will be able to provide services and benefits.