Yourdonites: Need good questions for Hartford, CT Community Conversations town meetinggreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Hi gang, my names Bill Dunn and Ive been a long time lurker on this wild and wooly website. I write a lot of stuff for Mike Hyatts site and edit his newsletter.
Ill be attending the first of Koskinens local-oriented dog and pony shows at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, on June 7. I figure the odds that Ill actually get to ask a question are about the same odds that Ill be named the next Pope (assuming these informal events are as carefully-scripted as Clintons informal town meetings were while he was campaigning).
Despite that, Id still like to be as well-prepared as possible ... just in case.
Id appreciate it if you could offer some good questions that could be asked at this event -- and all the other meetings to be held this summer.
Thanks in advance for your help,
-- Bill Dunn (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 28, 1999
How about this:
Hi, My names Bill and I'm a Yourdon Doomer. Regardless of the truth, I still believe the end of the world is at hand. The code is broken. It can't be fixed. There are many like me who long for the day when we can return our country to a righteous moral path, and I believe Y2K is that opportunity.
We happily look forward to the depopulation of our country, especially large cities where non-Christians, homosexuals, feriners and other immoral types congregate. I invite people here to help make Y2K hysteria a reality. Join us!
-- Helping (Hand@cultdestroyer.com), May 28, 1999.
I think the biggest thing you may be able to get them doing is acknowledging the international problems. Get them to prognosticate on their current assessments, especially impact on the supply chains and global trading situation.
Then ask them to explain "how" they think the overseas situation will impact us domestically.
Ask them too, to better explain their "one-size-fits-all" 3-day Y2K preparation recommendations, when they've already admitted that problems will be localized and of unknown duration.
Ask "what" circumstances would cause Koskinen to suggest "more" than a three-day's preps.
See if there is a "way" to get him to admit there are unknown events that require more than the "average" readiness.
(Sure hope he makes it to the S.F. Bay Area).
-- Diane J. Squire (email@example.com), May 28, 1999.
I would ask him why the National Guard has body bags and refrigerated vans on their new supply list. (see: Garynorth.com .....martial law, Nov. 17, 1998)Or is that just a standard list for natural distasters?
-- Betty Alice (Barn255@aol.com), May 28, 1999.
Why is it, if government and industry come up with fallback failure operating procedures, it's "contingency planning", but if I do it, it's "panic" or "hoarding"?
-- Dan Webster (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 28, 1999.
Bill, I second the motion-
Shall we use this thread and bounce it to the top of new answers every few days?
We discussed this briefly a few days ago at http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=000sOo
And I think it's an important idea. The more intelligent questions we can feed them, the harder they are to ignore. Those are great suggestions, Diane- thanks!
Hmmm, and if they are posted here, perhaps they will be forwarded to the participants so that they can do their homework and have intelligent answers ready. ( a hint to our unseen audience ;-) )
BTW, I called Trinity College Public Relations (860 297 2143)and spoke with a nice guy named Dean Golumbeski. The event will be at 7PM, and the audience is limited to 250 people. *You must call in advance and leave your name to be certain of admission!* so if any of you are considering going, call right away. I was told they are trying to arrange for TV coverage and email submission of questions, but they didn't get much notice of this event so it's bit of a scramble.
Hmmm- off the top of my head:
Why are the British and Canadian government sponsoring extensive public education/preparation programs?
It seems from information found at the National Retailers Federation web site that the vast majority of point of sale equipment (1997 80%) was not compliant. Spot checks of a few major manufactureres showed that they weren't even testing many cash registers for compliance. Should small to medium sized retailers replace their cash registers?
Hypothetical question to the panel: You are an urban apartment dwelling couple in New England with an infant, a preschooler, four elderly parents nearby, no fireplace, gas heat. How would you prepare? When?
Recently, three polls or studies of IS staff in the US Fortune 500 appeared in the New York times. All showed that deadlines are slipping, budgets are rising, and up to 22% did not expect to finish critical systems by January 1. Do you feel that the publicly reported corporate compliance figures can be trusted?
The council has stated that all US Government critical systems will be ready on time. How many federal systems in total require remediation, and how many are considered "critical"?
OK, gang - start framing your questions...
-- Lewis (email@example.com), May 28, 1999.
Hey Helping, go put that hand of yours to good use and let the rest of us know when you're done in the bathroom, please. Bill, you might want to ask them if they know what month it is! These "happy talks" are just one more in a long line of Clinton distractions. "Sit down, shut up and leave your money in the banks". *looooong sigh* At least these meetings won't have to compete with the NFL for awhile yet!
-- Will continue (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 28, 1999.
You have someone ask a valid question and get all of these so-called helpful answers about asking about the state of the world. This is Community Conversations. Bill seemed to honestly want help in which questions he should ask there which would be appropriate to his community. How about you people stop posting your "sound bites" and give him some reasonable questions to ask that could get him answers to what concerns him, not you?
Bill, Make a list of different questions that concern you by matter of importance. There is the possibility that others will ask some of your questions (and recieve answers) before you have the chance. The main questions will be;
Power- fuel supply backups for them, what method are used to deliver those supplies.
water- ask if your water is "gravity fed" or needs "technical help" to get to your home.
Hospitals- ask if there is a "central" group overseeing ALL of the hospitals in your area and what are their findings. Also ask if thety have a "site" for people to get this info. If they do not, ask them to do it.
comunications- this area is one of the least to worry about as there have been few problems.
Emergencies- 911, fire and life support (aid cars etc) police. Ask what their Y2K status is and how they can be contacted if the poer is out or the phone lines are too busy to contact them.
I am sure there are other things you can ask about and maybe SOME other people here will help you with reasonable answers to your request for help.
-- Cherri (email@example.com), May 28, 1999.
Italics off.. oops
-- Cherri (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 28, 1999.
-- no (email@example.com), May 28, 1999.
-- Cherri (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 28, 1999.
Thanks, Cherri - those are good question suggestions.
I suspect the other potential question above, (including mine), are broader in scope because this board tends to have a national/international focus rather than local/regional. Many of your questions should be asked at *every* Community Conversations.
I suppose that ultimately the questions should be chosen based on who they are being addressed to , (which has not been announced to my knowledge). Local/regional representatives won't know much about the international scene, for example.
As the first in the series, I wonder if this event will get more national media coverage than later ones? That may make it a valid venue for the Big Questions, if Big Answerers are present.
Re-reading my earlier post, I see that my questions do seem to have a more confontational tone than is perhaps appropriate. But the real factual information may only be available via uncomfortable questions.
Anyway, thanks for your thoughts.
-- Lewis (email@example.com), May 28, 1999.
Shocking! Will this work?...for a moment there, I thought I was in the Barbie aisle at Toys R Us...
-- Lewis (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 28, 1999.
This is literally what it looks like when people "draw a blank".
-- lisa (email@example.com), May 28, 1999.
And because I have nothing else to do...
This is a big help in understanding the CC series. This turned up at Steve Davis' Coalition2000 BB thanks to Curt Bury:
Thanks to Jason McNamara (FEMA rep to the Presidents Council), we have a transcript of Monday's Press Conference announcing the nationwide Community Conversations campaign.
Transcript of Today's Community Conversations Press Conference, National Press Club, Washington, D.C. Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 18:23:36 -0400 From: Jason McNamara Jason_R._McNamara@WHO.EOP.GOV
MR. KOSKINEN: Thank you, Bill. I'm delighted to join you again. And let me thank both Bill, U.S. Newswire, and the National Press Club for allowing us to meet with you here this morning. As you know, we are here to launch a nationwide campaign for Y2K Community Conversations, as we're calling them. We have 221 days to go-but who counts? -- before we get to the transition to the next millennium. And increasingly it's clear that one of the most important things we can do is provide people with information about the Year 2000 problem, the work that's been done, the work that remains to be done and the appropriate level of community preparedness. Nationally, we have been fortunate in working with a wide range of industry groups and industries in collecting and providing to the public detailed information about the state of preparedness in critical areas, including the federal government's operations, electric power, banking, telecommunications across the critical infrastructure.
But most services are delivered locally. And the greatest domestic risk for Y2K-related failures is at the local level. We can't tell you, in the context of providing national information, about any particular locality's status, in terms of either the operations and the efforts that are being made by the local government at the city and the county level, or by individual providers of critical services in those communities.
In many areas, fortunately, a tremendous amount of work has gone on and is being done as we talk, both in the public sector as well as in the private sector. Many banks, power companies, local governments, have been particularly active, not only in preparing their systems for the transition to the Year 2000, but in sharing that information with other suppliers of critical services, as well as residents in those local communities.
But in many communities, there has been a lack of effort or attention to this problem increasingly on the theory that "we can wait and see what happens, and then fix systems after they break or cease to function." Or, in other communities where a significant amount of work has been going on, there's been a great reluctance on sharing information with the public about the status of that work, the work that remains to be done and the appropriate responses to be taken by the communities.
So our Y2K Community Conversations campaign builds on discussions that are already being held in many communities. And you'll hear later this morning from two examples of what can be done at the local level in terms of encouraging a community approach to dealing with the Year 2000 problem. The concept of the Community Conversations is to bring service providers together with citizens to discuss the state of local readiness at the community level. The goal of the campaign is not to be cheerleaders or to present a false picture of security about the status of situations at the local level. The goal is to provide factual information on a community-by-community basis about what the status of the work on the Year 2000 is in that community, what work remains to be done, what the risks are and what preparations are appropriate for each community in light of the risk that are in that community. We are providing to those interested in organizing these conversations a tool kit to help public officials, business leaders and citizens organize their own community conversations. We are stressing that there is no one single way to do this. We are providing examples from a range of communities around the country.
We're encouraging local government officials or leaders in the private sector to be the initiators of such conversations-or activists or civic community organizations can take the lead if they so see fit.
We provide a guidebook for putting together a meeting from start to finish, including suggestions for agendas, selecting formats and participants, promoting the meeting and follow-up. But again to provide a mechanical outline for how it might be done, which will allow communities to select the format that meets their own needs and their own situations. We also provided a booklet of frequently asked questions about the Year 2000 problem to provide background for those coming later to the issue. And there's a videotape introductory presentation made by President Clinton which is available to be used in each community for their conversations, along with posters and other promotional materials. The entire tool kit is available by calling our hotline at 1-888-USA-the number 4Y2K. It's also on our website, and can be downloaded directly off the website at our website of www.y2k.gov.
We've had great cooperation throughout the last year and a half as we have monitored the range of initiatives in dealing with the Year 2000 from the Congress, and I want to particularly thank Representative Ford for his leadership in introducing legislation recently that expresses support for Community Conversations and the initiative we are launching, designates July as National Y2K Disclosure Month, to encourage greater information-sharing with the public and encourages others to join him in that effort. And we hope that the Congress will react favorably to that proposal from Representative Ford. We've had great cooperation from Y2K officials in many states and cities, and our senior advisers group, who are reaching out to their members.
We already have news of several Y2K Community Conversations that are taking place this summer, including conversations in Hartford, Green Bay, Frankfurt, Kentucky, Columbus, Salt Lake City, Austin, Hot Springs, Arkansas, Williamsburg, Lincoln, and Des Moines, Iowa. Plans are also underway for conversations in St. Louis and Chicago.
But again I would stress that this is a national campaign for local conversations. This is not the federal government coming into communities telling people what to do. All we are doing is trying to be the catalyst for increasing the amount of conversation that goes on at the local level. So while we will try to be as supportive as we can, we would urge that people view this as their local community's attempt to deal with this issue as part of this national undertaking.
I'm glad to introduce today one of those senior advisers and group members to start the specific presentation for us, Dan Blue, from the state of North Carolina, who's the president of the National Association of State Legislators. Dan. (Applause.)
MR. BLUE: Thank you, John, and good morning. As John indicated, I am the President of the National Conference of State Legislators, but I've been asked this morning also to convey to you the support for the Y2K Community Conversations from the following organizations of public officials: the National Governors Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, the National Association of State Information Resource Executives, the National Association of Towns and Townships and Public Technologies, Inc.
I'm certainly pleased to support the Council's Y2K Community Conversations campaign. It's important that state and local governments be ready for the year Y2000 conversion. But I think it's equally as important that the citizens of the communities that we serve understand the progress that we've made, the goals that we've set, and the things we're doing to be Y2K compliant-how we plan to finish the work that we've started or that remains, and what they can do-the citizens of the various communities that we represent-to improve the readiness of their local areas.
State legislatures over the past several years have been engaged in ensuring Y2K readiness of our state information technology systems in this year alone at 42 of the 50 legislatures in session. And we have appropriated hundreds of millions of dollars, we've spent innumerable hours, spent time in coordination, in trying to ensure that we were going to be Y2K-compliant. We dealt with a wide array of issues, some coming from perception, some coming from reality, to make our communities ready. We've been trying to monitor remediation efforts by all branches of government and all levels of local government. And we want to promote a public awareness to encourage local governments to be prepared and to emphasize public-private sector cooperation and participation.
I think that the Y2K Community Conversations will provide state and local governments an excellent opportunity to ensure that people can participate in our discussion of readiness, and that citizens can address the concerns that they still have remaining that arise through these discussions. We certainly will be asking our members to reach out to their communities, to encourage the participants in the organizations that I have cited to you-mayors, to continue the conversation with governors, county executives, state officials at every level and public officials-to be a part of this important campaign to help address the issues raised by our citizens. Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. KOSKINEN: Thank you, Dan. Next I'd like to introduce John Derrick, who is the chairman, president and CEO of Potomac Electric Company here representing the North American Electric Reliability Council, one of the most important partners we have at the President's Council.
MR. DERRICK: Thank you, John. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. The North American Electric Reliability Council is very pleased to announce its support for the Council's Y2K Community Conversations program. Power companies play a very, very important role in our communities, obviously, and it's very important that we be ready for the 2000 event. We've been working hard in this industry to do that, and we're quite confident that we will be ready. But it's also very important for us to work with the citizens in our communities and the other stakeholders in our communities to understand the progress that we have made on the one hand, how we have accomplished-or plan to accomplished what's left to be done, and then what they can do to be ready in their own situations.
We have been working very hard to accomplish those aims collectively and individually. Collectively through the association of power companies and utilities in the United States. In the case of the investor-owned Edison Electric Institute, and in the case of the coop agencies such as the National Rural Electrification Administration, are working very hard with our membership to provide the kind of materials and the interactions and so forth that we need to be collectively ready.
And then, at the local level, each entity has been very active with their communities in accomplishing this. I'll just talk to what PEPCO has done specifically at this point. We've probably been engaged in close to 150 forums of all types with our customers and groups of our customers, our large customers individually, our large customers in groups. We've been in town meetings, we've been in drills and so forth with local governments, and we continue to do that, and will continue to do that. We've said often we will go any place, any time, anyone wants us to do that.
The Community Conversations program gives us all an excellent opportunity to bring a little bit more structure, perhaps, to that, as a way of maybe calibrating what we've already been doing, and then setting the stage for making it easier to do some things that we have yet to do. All of the electric utilities in the United States, as I've said, are heavily engaged in this activity. And we're quite confident that we'll be ready, and we're very anxious that we participate wherever and whenever is necessary to help all of us understand this situation and our readiness. I look forward at PEPCO to participating or sponsoring or hosting-we haven't figured out exactly how we'll do that yet, 'cause we'll be talking to our partners in this area about the community conversations-but we'll for sure have a number of those, and are please to add that to our arsenal. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. KOSKINEN: Next I'm happy to introduce Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Zions First National Bank in Salt Lake City, Utah, a member of the Senior Advisers Group, here representing the American Bankers Association. (Applause.)
MR. ANDERSON: Thank you, John. It's a pleasure to be with you this morning to express the support of the American Bankers Association for the Council's Y2K Community Conversations program. I believe it's safe to say that for the banking industry, nothing is of higher priority or is receiving greater attention than Y2K preparedness. As bankers, we take our role in the economy and in the communities we serve very seriously. Our business is built on the trust we've established with our customers over decades. Maintaining that trust is no small matter to us. When customers put their money in my bank, I want them to feel that their funds are secure, that they have access to them when they want, and that their financial transactions are being completed as expected. It is therefore no surprise that we in the banking industry support such communication programs and believe that much is at stake in communicating this message to our customers on the local level.
The banking industry is confident that it can complete its Y2K project on time. However, it is also important that citizens of the communities we serve understand the progress we've made to becoming Y2K-compliant, how we plan to finish the work that remains, and what they can do to improve and better their own personal readiness and that of their towns and cities. Consumer communication is a must for every bank in this country. After all, every customer wants to know not only what's happening on the national level, but what's happening in their own community, and what's happening with their own bank.
Consumers need this information. They need to know that the banking industry is on track in meeting critical deadlines, that banks have a long history of dealing successfully with unexpected events or national disasters, and that when such events occur, the bank is usually the first business in the community to be up and running again and open for business. Consumers are also reassured when they realize the strict regulatory oversight the banks receive in ensuring that they are in fact Y2K-compliant, and that their money in banks guaranteed by FDIC insurance, is safe and protected. We must be aggressive in dispensing these facts to our public, and dispelling the fiction that abounds.
We are concerned, for example, that some are advising consumers to withdraw large amounts of cash, "just to be on the safe side." In fact, one couple in Florida reportedly took $20,000 out of their bank, buried it in their backyard, only to discover that it was missing several days later. The "safe side"? Hardly.
Much is being done already to communicate this message with the public. The American Bankers Association has produced videos, newsletters, advertisements, produced Y2K manuals, held seminars and posted a wealth of additional information on their website to get this message across to the public and to support member banks. In addition, the American Bankers Association sponsored a Y2K radio show in April that reached 12 million listeners. At Zions Bank, we have just completed a series of 36 community seminars across Utah and Idaho, discussing Y2K preparedness with consumers and businesses. The American Bankers Association is encouraging all of its member banks to lead or participate in Y2K Community Conversations in their local communities. Participation in these meetings provides banks an excellent opportunity to discuss how they are meeting this important challenge and address citizen concerns concerning Y2K issues.
I am pleased to announce that on July 9th, Utah Governor Michael Leavitt and the Governors Coalition for the Year 2000 Preparedness, will be hosting the first of a number of Y2K Community Conversations in Salt Lake City. John will be there representing the Council, and we'll have representatives from Utah's banking, power, transportation, health care, small business, government, food and telecommunication industries.
The event will be the first, as I say, in a number of these that will be sponsored by the Utah Bankers Association, the Governors Coalition, the local governments and the local chamber of commerce. These will be held in town halls, in churches, in schools, in community centers, so that people will have a chance to discuss and see what's being done in their local community, and so that they will be encouraged to prepare themselves, whether it be personally or in their small business.
In conclusion, let me end with this paraphrasing a statement by Lawrence Simitan of U.S. West Corporation. Our message is that on January 1, 2000, the sun will rise, you will continue to breathe, you will have a dial tone, and your ATMs will work, your lights will go on, and your money will be safe in the bank. Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. KOSKINEN: An important concern in every community is the health care system, and I'm delighted today that Fred Brown, vice chairman of BJC Health System in St. Louis, Missouri, and chairman of the American Hospital Association and a member of our Senior Advisers Group could join us and talk a little about this initiative from their perspective.
MR. BROWN: Thank you, John, and good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I'm very pleased to be here to represent our 5,000 hospitals across the country. And hospitals play a very important role in all of our communities. The patients we serve rely on us to provide their health care needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And they deserve to be reassured that our commitment won't change because of the Y2K.
And that's why the American Hospital Association is very pleased to support and to participate in the Council's Y2K Community Conversations campaign. Hospitals know so well the importance of being ready for Y2K, but it's even more important that our communities know the progress hospitals are making across the country.
And there's great confidence among our hospitals that they will meet theY2K challenge. There's more work to do, but we want our communities to know that health care providers are dedicated to getting the job done, because it's around patient care and patient safety. The AHA has stressed to its members the importance of talking with their patients and their families and their communities about Y2K. And we've made available materials that they can communicate within their communities. The Y2K Community Conversations is an excellent opportunity for our members across the country to collaborate with other community leaders-utilities, communications, food and local government to discuss publicly how they are addressing the Y2K issues.
And I'm very excited to announce that the American Hospital Association, in cooperation with the Regional Commerce and Growth Association of St. Louis, Missouri, will hold a community conversation this summer. We'll be reaching out to several of our St. Louis community leaders in the various industries to talk about the progress that has been made and the commitment to solving the Y2K issues.
And we've encouraged all of our hospitals and all of our health systems across the country to either lead or participate in Y2K conversations in their own communities. The bottom line for us is that the communities we serve deserve to know what we're doing to protect them, not only as we enter the new millennium, but also beyond. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. KOSKINEN: I appreciate the presentations we've had thus far, which are designed in our conversations with these organizations to, as you've heard, get commitments and increase the likelihood that in each community, the basic infrastructure will be aware of the importance of the conversations and be willing to participate. Because one of the hardest things to do when you're organizing this at the local level is to in fact pull everybody together at one time.
Our guidebook, as I noted, features case studies about communities that have actually pulled together the basic critical infrastructure providers in their communities for, in effect, Year 2000 conversations. And we're honored to have representatives from two of those communities here to talk with us this morning about their activities.
I'm pleased to introduce Joose Hadley of Clearwater, Florida, who is chair of the Citizens for a Stable Community in Clearwater.
MS. HADLEY: Thank you very much for inviting me to be here. As chairman of the Citizens for a Stable Community from Clearwater, Florida, I am very happy to be here to help launch this initiative, this program looks like it's going to go really far.
By now, we're all aware of the Y2K problem, with its embedded chips, software, hardware, linkage problems. The thing that we haven't been focusing on is the Y2K problem called people: how are they going to react to something that has never happened before? What do we do to get them prepared without creating runs on banks and stores? And the common thought has been "Well, we'll soft-pedal it, we'll pretend it won't be there." And there's even been plenty of legal advice that has been out to those people and agencies that effectively muzzles those very people we need to hear the most from. So at this point, I can see that that's going to stop.
Last June, my husband James and I decided we needed to do something in our community. So we set out to create open channels of communication in our community between the citizens and its leaders and the service providers. Now, at that point, it wasn't easy. But there were a few who would step forward and come to our weekly meetings and give information. And by doing do, they gave our community-and did it a great service.
As a result, we had citizens who would come in nervous. They would listen to this, and they visibly calmed when they actually got information straight from the horse's mouth. They went home with a little more confidence in their officials and in themselves and in their future. It wasn't just the citizens who were asking for straight talk. Even our local governments were in the basic Y2K dark. I received a phone call one time from a neighboring city asking what did I know about their neighboring town, what was going on on the Y2K scene, and did I know anything about the county? What were they doing?
Well, at that point, I decided we needed to do something about that. So we organized an informal Y2K pow-wow. and we invited the civic representatives on the Y2K to have lunch together and sit down and share their Y2K successes and their problems.
And it hasn't just been those leaders. It's been our religious communities that have felt that they've been in the dark, too. At our religious leaders Y2K conference, we put together actually a landmark meeting, which brought them together with the emergency management departments and the community policing programs. And at those conferences, we've had basically 44 religious leaders of all faiths come together in a single room, leaving their difference at the door, with the one objective, which was to discuss a common concern: how do we best lead our people into the new millennium?
So from this past year, what have we learned? Well, five main things. One is: communication does solve problems. Secondly, always work with the existing community infrastructure. Third, be an ally, not an opponent-we're all in this together. Fourth, use straight talk and give real information. And fifth, don't wait for someone else to take the lead. That someone is you. Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. KOSKINEN: Thank you, Joose. We have an outreach program we've had for some time, reaching out to community organizers around the country to try to provide a way for sharing information. We have never actually met Joose before. We started pulling together examples for our tool kit. And this is the first time I've actually ever met her in person. And I think we'll just send Joose out on the road here, and I'll stay home. (Laughter.)
Joose represents one way to get Community Conversations started, which is with community and involved and informed citizens. Another way to do it is through part of the infrastructure. And I'm pleased to introduce Louis Spartan, who is the director of the program office of Y2K Compliance for Frost Bank in San Antonio, Texas, to talk a little about their approach to starting a community conversation. Louis. (Applause.)
MR. SPARTAN: Thank you, John. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I'm pleased to be here. Throughout the country, in large cities, in smaller towns, Americans are being exposed to vast amounts of information on what might happen to society as the century rolls over.
Many people are wondering what the stories that they are hearing mean to their own communities. I am Louis Spartan, the Year 2000 program director for Frost Bank in San Antonio, Texas, that has been actively involved in Y2K preparedness for about three to four years now. Business and government have been working diligently to prepare for the date change. Although much has been accomplished, local conversations about this progress are needed to build and enhance public confidence.
The real Y2K crisis is truly an information crisis. The lack of regular status reports and conversation within the community can lead to a lack of preparedness. In November of 1998, Frost Bank was privileged to become a founding member of the Greater San Antonio Y2K Coalition. Since then, the coalition has promoted a dialogue among members within the community to encourage a better understanding about the community's readiness for January of 2000.
The coalition has held citizens meetings in malls and public facilities. We visited with local churches. We've participated in editorial boards with the local newspapers. We also sent information packets to small businesses, and we spoke at the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and neighborhood association meetings.
The primary goal has been to build public confidence to illustrate that business and government sectors of the city are working together to ensure a smooth transition into 2000. I'm very proud to be a part of the Y2K Community Conversations initiative announced here today. I commend the President's Council for its hard work and its vision in an effort to promote an open dialogue between public and private sectors and the citizens of our community.
I also want to extend a special thanks to Gavin Nichols of HEB food stores, who is providing current leadership to the Y2K initiative in San Antonio and our coalition, and I'm sure after we're done here, we'll be happy to answer any questions you may have. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. KOSKINEN: We actually are done with the formal presentations, and would be pleased to have questions for anyone. The one point I would note is that I promised John Derrick I'd get him out of here by no later than about quarter till or 10 to 11, so if you have power questions or North American Reliability questions, you've got about 10 minutes to get ahold of John, and then he's sneaking out. But the rest of us are here for a little while longer. So again, as noted, if you would, when you have a question, tell us who you area and what part of the press you represent, we'd be delighted to proceed.
Q Robert MacMillan with Newsbytes. And the question I have is I know that it's better late than never to start preparing for this problem. But I guess my question is now that it's May, and this program is kicking off, how much can be accomplished for some of the-I guess the laggards-at this point?
MR. KOSKINEN: It's a good question. For those in the back of the room who may not have heard the question, the question is with 221 days to go, and while it's never too late to start, is it too late to finish for some people, and what should they do?
Clearly we are running out of time. It's a problem we have domestically as well as internationally. But the point is well made, that our view is wherever you are in the process, if there's more than 221 days' worth of work to do, you might as well start today, because you'll get the first 221 days done. We have stressed across the board with federal agencies, and with our working partnerships, and with a range of industries that no matter how close to being done, or how done you think you are, no one's ever done.
There's no way anyone's giving guarantees that every system is going to work perfectly, no matter how often you've tested it. So it's critical even for those who think they're done, to have appropriate contingency plans and back-up plans, business continuity plans. That's when you think you're done. It is even more critical, if you are late starting, to understand if your plan is to be finished in November or December, you have very little margin for error. And you need at the same time you're working on remediation and testing and implementation of systems, you need to be working on appropriate contingency and back-up plans. And as we've said here today, you need to be discussing those and sharing those and developing those with your local community.
end part 1
-- Lewis (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 28, 1999.
begin part 2
The good news about this is we think and the information we have about this is that the people most likely to be starting late are smaller and medium-sized organizations in the public and private sector. The banking industry is unique because as Scott said, I kid the bankers it's a testimonial to federal regulation, across the board from small to large banks. We've had a very active working partnership over the last couple of years.
But our concerns are not the people who are working on this problem, because they'll either get done and have a back-up plan, or know when they're not going to be done and really be focused on business continuity plans.
Our concern is with people who increasingly are aware of it. There's almost nobody not aware of this problem any more after the last year, year and a half. Our concern is the people, whether they're the city manager, the mayor, the county executive, or the CEO of a local service provider who says "You know, it's not such a big deal. We'll just wait and see what breaks, and then we'll fix it." And we think that's a very high- risk roll of the dice. And we think that there are likely to be at the end of a very long line of other people who waited to see what broke and fixed it. And they are not in fact discharging adequately their responsibilities to their citizens and their customers.
So part of what we're doing here, on the one hand is it's important to share information about what's going on. And there's a significant amount going on in most communities. But at the same time, what we hope is, if enough of these conversations are held everywhere, and if we have local providers and citizens' groups working at the local level, that we will encourage those who are laggards, who either started later or who have not started, to take advantage of the last 221 days to begin and fix their systems.
Because, by being smaller and they have less significant substantial problems, and also they can take advantage of the technical information of others in their industry. And the national associations and the industries have been very good about increasingly being willing to share technical information about how to deal with this problem. But we've got to get their attention, and they have to decide to do it now.
Q. Mr. Koskinen Mike Goldstein, with -- (off mike) -- Broadcasting. Apart from sharing information or an effort to try to get the laggards moving, how much of this is really an effort to try to calm fears at the local level so that there won't be a run on the banks or a run on the stores? I mean, is that really somewhat what's behind this?
MR. KOSKINEN: Well, if you start with it, I think our first concern is to have systems work. As I've told people, our goal is not to get through December 31st, which would be a lot of the area where people are worried about a reaction. Our goal is to get through the first couple of months of next year. And so we do not want people unprepared.
So the goal here, as I said, is not to have people have a false sense of security. The goal here is not a message. The goal here is information. We would like, in each community, to have people stand up and not say "Don't worry, we're done," but to stand up and talk about what they've done, the problems they've met, the challenges they think they have, what their contingency and back-up plans are and what's appropriate for community responsiveness.
Q But I mean, in reality, what banker is going to come to one of these meetings and say "Gee, you'd better take some money out, we're not ready," or what hospital administrator, in his or her right mind is going to come to one of these and say "you'd better stock up on antibiotics and gauze, 'cause we're a mess."
MR. KOSKINEN: Well, actually, I think that if anybody were in that position, they might do that. And I think more importantly, the citizens will be better able to make a determination of how credible the institution is if they can have a frank conversation about it. The area in which you get into overreaction is when people have no information available at all, where there's a barrier. So our view is we have a lot of confidence in the common sense of the American public. And we think if you can get facts in their hands, real information about what's going on in each of the critical institutions they depend upon, they'll respond appropriately, particularly in a context if they understand that we are working on this nationally across industry lines as well as locally. But ultimately, the issue gets decided at the local level.
Q. Mr. Koskinen, Matthew -- (last name off mike) -- with (HA ?) News. As a follow-up to that, and maybe you and Mr. Brown can address this. I've heard from a lot of individual hospitals that are unwilling to, for whatever reasons, whether it's liability or something, to sort of discuss where they are in their Y2K planning. How are you going to get them to that stage of feeling comfortable to talk about it publicly?
MR. KOSKINEN: The question is how are we going to get local hospitals and health care providers comfortable to talking publicly when many of them haven't thus far, and I'm happy to have Fred Brown answer that question. (Laughter.)
MR. BROWN: Thank you, John. We think it's very important for hospitals to talk with their communities. And we've encouraged hospitals across the country to really talk with their patients, talk with their families, encourage them to talk with where the hospitals are at this point in time. We feel as we get closer, and we feel that this is a wonderful mechanism, the Community Conversations. In our own particular community we've talked about in St.Louis, we're very encouraged that the hospitals will talk about where they are at this point in time, in terms of being able to allay any fears that the public might have. And so I think that as hospitals become more comfortable with compliance, Y2K compliance issues, and through these efforts of the community conversations, I think we'll see hospitals talking with utility companies, communication companies, supply companies.
Because again, it's all around patient care and safety . And we have to focus on these issues of patient care and safety, and how do hospitals across the country respond to that. MR. KOSKINEN: And I might just add, some of these questions, that our focus is on getting the dialogue going. I think if you're in a community where the mayor, the city manager, the county executive, or those who know about individual critical parts of your infrastructure aren't communicating and won't answer questions, I think you have a right to be concerned. And particularly if you think that their approach is to wait and see, and actually that this is not a big deal that they don't need to pay attention to. This is a big deal. It's important for every community, it's important for every major part of the infrastructure to treat the problem with the seriousness it deserves.
Q. Paul Parson with CNN. The idea that some of these local governments or even local industry might be reluctant to share information and that others may say "Well, let's wait till it breaks and then we'll fix it," how can you envision a campaign like this turning around what already sounds like an attitude set in stone?
MR. BROWN: (Brief audiotape break) -- arena of confidence. And I think that in our particular situation in St. Louis, we've had a very positive response from looking forward to those Community Conversations, getting participation of the hospitals because the communication companies, the utility companies have all publicized, the airlines have publicized some of their tests. And I think that has reinforced that they are moving ahead.
And hospitals have made significant, significant progress. And I think they will be comfortable as we move down the road. And I think again, as John has mentioned, this is a wonderful opportunity to get of all of the segments of society and the different sectors together and to talk about this, because it really is a common-sense approach. It's an approach to say to our patients, to our publics, to our communities, "these are the steps that we're taking." In our particular situation, I feel very comfortable about doing that.
Q. A related question for Mr. Derrick.
MR. KOSKINEN: Actually, for hospitals, if they are not participating, they can expect a visit from Fred, who will come and see them. A question for John Derrick-and this will be it for John.
Q This gentleman mentioned how there is human back-up to the machines. But in the power industry, you don't have such a thing. You can't create the electricity, in other words. Is there some way where the utility company can reassure, through these Community Conversations, that the lights aren't going to go out in the middle of winter, that somehow the community doesn't have to run out and buy kerosene lanterns and generators?
MR. DERRICK: We've been doing that in our own way, as I mentioned earlier. And we welcome the opportunity to have a different kind of a forum, a broader forum, to do exactly that. All the machines that make electricity, essentially all the machines that will make electricity, will be, by the time the year turns over, will have been tested individually. The transmission systems, the distribution systems, the control devices. All that's going on now. Most of us expect it to be completed about the middle of the year.
As you may be aware, the Department of Energy has leadership for this on behalf of the Federal Government to ensure that the process is taking place as well. The North American Electric Reliability Council is the coordinator of that. Each utility system reports in on a monthly basis to NERC and reports in to DOE. You can get great levels of specificity out of that reporting if you choose by getting into websites and so forth.
So, yes, we are telling folks that we're quite confident that the lights are not going to go out. You may recall we had this ice storm here in Washington awhile back and some people say "Well, is this a prelude for Y2K?" And I said "Only if we have a big ice storm on December 31st." (Scattered laughter.) I tell that story to reinforce a point that was made just previously about contingency planning.
All systems of importance to society can break. And therefore, the providers of those services, using those systems and devices, have contingency plans. The difference I think between normal contingency planning and Y2K contingency planning as far as PEPCO is concerned and I think an awful lot of electrical utilities and I'm sure other organizations, is we're going to have the whole workforce available, as opposed to normally when you have people on vacations and things like that.
But we are used to dealing with these kind of problems, and that's a part of our everyday life. But systemic failures, we're quite confident, will not occur.
MR. KOSKINEN: All right. Thank you, John. If I were you, I'd run for the door while you've got an opening. (Laughs.) Other questions?
Q. Mary Olson from the Nuclear Monitor. And we're actually a publication for the grassroots. And I'd first like to commend this effort, because I think it's exactly what's needed. But-
MR. KOSKINEN: There's always a "but" after the commendation. (Laughs.)
Q. I say "but" only because the energy guy walked for the door. I'd like to put forward, though, this question to encourage the fact that I think that engaged and participating citizens are a lot more empowered than panicking. And one of the pieces there is that contingency plans, even in the sectors that are reporting the highest degree of readiness, also be shared. I was very reassured to hear someone representing NERC talking about the importance of contingency plans. But is that a key piece of how the packet is put together?
MR. KOSKINEN: Basically, the question is in addition to talking about how organizations are doing and preparing, is sharing contingency plans part of that. And the question asked about hospitals as well. And we've tried to make clear in the materials that that's exactly what ought to be shared. In other words, what we need in a community is not simply people saying don't worry about it, and we don't even need people only saying "Here's what we've done to solve the problem." What we need is that third step. "And if there is a problem, this is what our contingency plan looks like. This is our back-up plan. This is how we normally are prepared for emergencies, and these are the adjustments we've made to deal with whatever might be unique for that industry with the year 2000 problem."
And I think that dialogue across the board needs to be held, so that people -- first, other service providers-can understand what the contingency plans are. But also so that community groups and governmental organizations can understand if there is a difficult problem, this is the way various sectors are going to respond to it. So we hope, although we can't tell anybody what to do, but we hope that an important part of the dialogue will be exchanged information about what the back-up plans are.
Because as I've said, nobody can guarantee that every system is going to work perfectly. And so, nobody can guarantee there is no need for a contingency plan. Fortunately most of the-all of the critical sectors are used to emergencies, and the real question is can we get a dialogue going about how those emergency plans are being adjusted and tailored for the year 2000. . Q. I'm assuming that these community conversations take place more than once in each town ?
MR. KOSKINEN: Good point. The question is are we hoping that these will be more than one-time events. One of the reasons we have case studies in there is because they make that point-that the hardest event to get is the first event, but our hope is that people will understand in each community that this is an ongoing process. We all are learning more as we go through it. Clearly, especially if people start these conversations as we hope they will do in June, they should not expect, and I don't think the public does expect everybody to be done then. What they will expect is projection as to what the progress is in ongoing updates. So we hope that people will understand that we called these "community conversations" plural not 'cause just we wanted them in a number of communities, but we hope that they will be an ongoing dialogue within each community about the status of our remediation as well as the status of local community preparedness.
All right. Thank you all very much. I particularly would like to thank again the other speakers who shared the podium with me, not only for being here, and not only for the work they've done individually, but for the organizations and institutions they represent who are committed to joining in with all of us this summer, through the summer, in a series of Community Conversations. Thank you. (Applause.) #### END
-- Lewis (email@example.com), May 28, 1999.
Mr. Koskinen states, "Clearly, especially if people start these conversations as we hope they will do in June, they should not expect, and I don't think the public does expect everybody to be done then." First question: Didn't you attempt to reassure us that most would meet June deadlines? Second question: Don't you think that MOST believe the work has already been finished? Isn't that what we've been told? Lastly Mr. Koskinen, allow me to tell you just ONE thing that *I* expected, sir. I expected that my Government would have gone to far greater lengths to let people know some of the things they COULD be expecting long,long before now. (feel better now Cherri?)
-- Will continue (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 28, 1999.
Read the transcript from the press conference. Then, read it again.
The fix is in - which is why it is all the more important that anyone attending actually try to get in some questions. The media questions from that press conference quite clearly demonstrate that, in general, the media is totally clueless about the questions to ask and how to report Y2K.
More and more I believe that we are sailing into totally uncharted waters as a species (current events and Y2K combined). And let's face something about Y2K - I'm of the opinion that if there are programs and systems that aren't fixed and ready and in production now, they most likely ain't gonna be on 1/1/2000. We have already crossed the threshold of no return; the die is cast and all there is to do at this point is spin the message from now until the end of the year (if we make it that far with this weasel in the White House playing his Wag the Dog games).
Then we find out.
-- Dan Webster (Dan_Webster@flashmail.com), May 29, 1999.
Will, It is a beginning. You are right that people should have been been given the chance to ask questions that concern them a long time ago. Even if the areas of their concern have nbeen worked on or fixed, or will be fixed, people had the right to know the what when and where of all of this info all along. This is the right of people, to know if where they live is going to be safe or not. I am glad that now it is socially acceptable, and even politically correct for people to get the answers to their concerns. Lack of information has caused a lot of concern at the same time industries were advised to keep quiet about what they were doing and what still needed to be done. This push towards comunities informing the people residing in them is probably the best thing that could have happened. It is too bad it did not happen earlier. Hearing about fortune 100, 500, 1230000 companies does nothing to help individuals know what will happen in their neighborhood. NOW each person can demand and get the answers to what concerns them individually.
I like what was written above;
So from this past year, what have we learned? Well, five main things. One is: communication does solve problems. Secondly, always work with the existing community infrastructure. Third, be an ally, not an opponent-we're all in this together. Fourth, use straight talk and give real information. And fifth, don't wait for someone else to take the lead. That someone is you.
One point I would like to make that can help get the answers you are seeking;
Remember, you get more flies with honey than vinagar.
In other words, if you attack someone in the process of asking your question, you will automatically cause them to be on the defensive and they will be less likely to put in the extra effort in their answer to you.
Like in my "answer to Cory" I said I would post. I would like to do it, but I so not wish to set myself up to answers from people who would call me a child molester or post nonsense with Bwwa hahahahaha or attempt to degrade me or other such flames.
-- Cherri (email@example.com), May 29, 1999.
one fun one to ask is how many pumping stations are there in the sewer system? I've talked to more than one individual who has led their town's putative leadership into suddenly realizing that sewers often contain PLCs as well...
-- Arlin H. Adams (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 30, 1999.
A good way to look at your local preparedness is to find out the information Hospitals have on local utilities, business, govenment. As it is critical they have acurate information to assess the risks they might get clearer answers than the average Joe.
If the hospital infomation doesn't jive with the offical line of the critical entities then you have problems. Might be a way to narrow in on the lagging efforts.
May I also mention that lawyers are community members also and if a group can find helpfull legal advice at Pro Bono rates one may attract the attention of local governments - utilities. Lawyers would know some tough questions eh? :o)
Identify the really critical stuff, anything that is a hazard in the local area is a risk. Ask for binding documents from these entities and if they are not forth comming, go to the press.
If you understand the Y2K problem then educate the press in your area. Email them imformation and CC the local goverment, legal, utilities in the area as a record that everyone has been informed. Use information from GAO reports and other Government documents showing the risks. Don't forget the SEC Y2K filings from local corps. in your area. Lots of relevent information on there.
All entities are required to provide the community with contingency plans, expect a detailed community response by the Entity involved. It must contain recommendations on what local area residents should do in the event of a failure.
Ask about duration of failure. Do they have plans for a failure that is a month or longer?
To ask the right questions in your local area one must educate and be educated on the issues that Y2K represents.
-- Brian (email@example.com), May 31, 1999.
If I get a chance to ask a question:
In March the Senate Y2K Committee issued a major report which stated, "The fundamental questions of risk and personal preparedness cannot be answered at this time."
On the very day that report came out, gov't officials, led by our own Sen. Dodd, began proclaiming, "Prepare as you would for a 3-day snow storm."
My question has two parts: First, if the fundamental question of personal preparedness could not be answered at that time, how did Sen. Dodd and others arrive at their 3-day recommendation?
And secondly, since a recommendation to prepare for a 3-day storm is essentially a recommendation to do nothing -- as most homes already have 3 days worth of food, etc. -- when will gov't officials, including Sen. Dodd, offer a recommendation which will actually prompt citizens to do something?
-- Bill Dunn (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 03, 1999.