Here's the Knight Ridder story on the Senate report : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Knight Ridder has also released a story on the Senate Y2K report. My excerpts (and a few thoughts) are at:

The story itself is at:

In case you are wondering- yes, folks, it's true: I never sleep.

-- Drew Parkhill/CBN News (, February 24, 1999


Finally--something BIG and by-partisan (one can only hope). Thanks for the post Drew.

-- FM (, February 24, 1999.

Posted at 4:32 p.m. PST Tuesday, February 23, 1999

Senate report: Y2K disruptions almost certain

Knight Ridder News Service

WASHINGTON -- After almost a year of systematic investigation, a special Senate committee warns in a report to be released within days that all segments of the U.S. economy -- from hospitals to electric power plants -- remain ``at risk'' from the year 2000 computer problem that looms less than one year away.

The sober study -- a draft was obtained by Knight Ridder Newspapers -- concludes that while both government and business have worked hard to correct the Y2K problem, their efforts began late, remain insufficient and consequently some incalculable level of economic disruption is inevitable.

``Make no mistake,'' the Senate panel's co-chairmen warn in a letter to their colleagues at the report's front, ``this problem will affect us all individually and collectively in very profound ways. ... It will indeed impact individual businesses and the global economy. In some cases, lives could even be at stake.''

The authors of the carefully low-key report take care to avoid either undue alarm or unfounded optimism. For example, they conclude that while local electricity blackouts are likely, a national power breakdown is not.

The study notes that most small to midsize businesses have yet to make Y2K repairs. And many of America's trade partners are far behind in taking corrective steps, posing risks of worldwide ripple effects.

Banks and other financial-service firms are well-prepared, the Senate panel finds. Social Security checks should not face interruption. And air-traffic control should be able to avoid major disruptions to air travel, although some ``flight rationing'' may be necessary.

``The committee has no data to suggest that the United States will experience nation-wide social or economic collapse,'' the Senate co- chairmen wrote, ``but we believe that disruptions will occur that in some cases will be significant. The international situation will be more disturbing. Those who suggest that it will be nothing more than a 'bump in the road' are simply misinformed.''

Chairman Robert F. Bennett, R-Utah, and Vice Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., led their special Senate select committee through nine hearings since last April examining the state of Y2K preparedness in seven critical U.S. industries.

They intend to trumpet their findings in Senate floor speeches, possibly as soon as Thursday, in an effort to rouse awareness to what they call ``one of the most serious and potentially devastating events this nation has ever encountered -- the Year 2000 computer program. ... It deserves our top priority.''


President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers put this into perspective in its annual report, released earlier this month:

``Although it sounds to many at first like a trivial matter, of interest only to computer engineers and programmers, in fact the Y2K problem is potentially extremely serious, given the central role that computer technology has taken in our lives.''

Edward Yardeni, chief economist of Deutsche Bank, leads several Wall Street economists in warning that Y2K disruptions are likely to cause a global recession next year, but Clinton's CEA report said ``such forecasts seem excessively dire.

``Even if disruptions turn out to be more serious than most analysts expect, they will most likely show up primarily as inconveniences and losses in certain sectors. It is less likely that they will ... lead to a recession. ... However, it would be unwise to state categorically that a Y2K recession is not in the cards,'' the CEA report said.

The Senate panel's study aims to fill a gap in public knowledge left by what it terms inadequate news-media discussion to date.

``Reports in even the most reputable news sources fall prey to polarization -- either over-emphasizing the handful of Y2K survivalists or downplaying the event as a hoax designed to sell information technology equipment,'' notes the first paragraph of the executive summary.

The public is hungry for solid information about the Y2K threat, according to a recent survey by the Media Studies Center, a New York- based research institute. While 82 percent said they expect problems to be minor, 64 percent said it is ``very important'' to them for news media to publicize how it might affect medical facilities, emergency services, banks and the military, for example.

Americans should be prepared, the Senate report says.

``Consumers are urged to keep copies of financial statements. ... Stockpiling a small amount of extra food and water in the event of temporary shortages may also be advisable,'' although extremes should be avoided, the report says.

Here is how the Senate panel sees Y2K affecting various sectors of the U.S. economy:

UTILITIES. Only about 50 percent of electric utilities had repaired Y2K systems as of December. ``Of greatest concern are about 1,000 small, rural electric utilities.'' Local and regional blackouts are ``likely,'' but a ``prolonged, nationwide blackout'' is not.

HEALTH CARE. Some 64 percent of hospitals have no plans to test their Y2K fixes before the crunch date. Some 90 percent of doctors' offices are unaware of how exposed they are to Y2K problems. Federal payment systems for Medicare and other health-insurance programs are behind schedule for repair. ``The health care industry is one of the worst- prepared for Y2K and carries a significant potential for harm.''

TELECOMMUNICATIONS. Some 95 percent of telephone systems are expected to be ready. No reliable data exists on readiness to test data networks, cellular or satellite communications systems, or 1,400 regional carriers.

TRANSPORTATION. ``On average, the nation's 670 domestic airports started Y2K compliance too late,'' the report states. The Federal Aviation Administration has ``made great strides'' but ``it still has a way to go. ... Planes will not fall out of the sky, but flight rationing to some areas and countries is possible.'' Aviation problems will be ``much worse'' abroad.

FINANCE. Banks and automated tellers are expected to function and to have enough cash. The Federal Reserve intends to expand available currency by one-third, to about $200 billion, to cover withdrawals ``and has other contingency arrangements available if needed,'' Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday.

GOVERNMENT. Federal agencies vary widely in preparedness; among the least prepared is the Department of Defense. (A House panel monitoring federal Y2K efforts issued an overall grade of C+ on Tuesday. Defense reported that only 72 percent of its ``mission- critical systems'' are ready; Transportation, only 53 percent.

John Koskinen, chairman of President Clinton's Y2K Council, told a computer-industry forum last week that he is confident federal agencies will be ready in time. The Senate report concludes that not all ``mission-critical'' federal systems will be ready, ``but wholesale failures'' of federal services ``will not occur.''

However, state and local governments vary widely in preparations, the Senate panel said, noting its ``greatest concern is the ability of local communities to provide 911 emergency services.''

BUSINESS. Heavily regulated fields such as banking, insurance and finance ``are furthest ahead,'' but ``health care, oil, education, agriculture, farming, food processing and the construction industry are lagging behind,'' the report said. Any failure of a critical system is likely to cost up to $3.5 million to repair and to take three to 15 days.

INTERNATIONAL. Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, which together supply 30 percent of U.S. oil imports, are both 12 to 18 months behind U.S. Y2K repair efforts, exemplifying how problems abroad might have an impact here. Infection of repaired U.S. computer systems from links to unfixed foreign ones is also worrisome.

Perhaps equally worrisome is how impossible it is to measure the problem in advance. ``It is unfortunate how little we still know about the scope and the severity of the Y2K problem for the U.S. and for the world,'' the Senate report observes. )1999 Mercury Center.

-- Kevin (, February 24, 1999.


Funny how things work in "Media World" isn't it? Hardly anytime passes since we hear that D.C. is in BIG trouble, and now we have the Washington Post story addressing the issue nationally. Hmmm. . .

-- FM (, February 24, 1999.


Many THANKS for you tremendous efforts in bringing these stories to us in a timely manner.


-- Ray (, February 24, 1999.

It'll be interesting to see what the markets do today...

-- pshannon (, February 24, 1999.

Thanks, Drew.

Its funny how fast the news about Y2K is coming tpgether --- a lot of people like Gary North have guestimated that things might really start to happen in summer'99. IF these news stories keep going and people are the least bit awake, we could be headed for the "panic" scenario sooner than expected.

-- Jon Johnson (, February 24, 1999.

The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch carried the Knight Ridder article as its' lead story today...big bold headline. Never thought I'd see the day. Awareness should ratchet up in Central Ohio (for those who can read!). Maybe this is some vindication for us GI's. I'm kinda tired of having people snicker when I mention this problem.

-- invisible (, February 24, 1999.

Thanks Drew,

Give 'em the truth, keep the lights on, and we just might avoid the panic side.

Steady preps works.


-- Diane J. Squire (, February 24, 1999.

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