GAO wants USDA to finish Y2K contingency plans sooner : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

GAO wants USDA to finish Y2K contingency plans sooner


The General Accounting Office has pushed the Agriculture Department to cut its deadline for completing and testing its Year 2000 business continuity and contingency plans by three months.

In a recently released report, the GAO said Agriculture's December deadline to finish testing "leaves no room for delays or sufficient time for correcting, revising and retesting plans if necessary."

December also falls after the beginning of the government's fiscal Year 2000, "when potential failures could have already occurred." As a result, the GAO recommended that the deadline to complete and test the plans should be Sept. 30.

GAO also recommended that USDA agencies and offices develop priorities for completing and testing their plans that coincide with the department's "highest-priority business processes," establish milestones to complete interim steps in drafting the plans that have not been addressed and report to the Agriculture secretary progress on meeting those milestones.

The Office of Management and Budget indicated that it is developing a process to coordinate work on business continuity and contingency plans across government and has informally notified agencies to be prepared to submit these plans to OMB by June, according to GAO.

-- Linkmeister (, June 08, 1999


If you can't get finished on time, how can you move up a date by 3 months. Demand all you want!!!!!!!!!!!

-- FLAME AWAY (, June 08, 1999.

Those should have been in place LAST year........phooooo. Read it and weep, people, read it and weep.

-- Will continue (, June 08, 1999.

Making a bad agriculturally related wise crack, but isn't that similar to trying to get blood out of a turnip?

Unbelieveable. Or not.

-- Wilferd (, June 08, 1999.

Works for the FAA, doesn't it? Agree to any schedule they want,deliver later than scheduled according to the first one.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, June 08, 1999.

Could it be that, in this instance, the left hand of government may not know what the right hand is doing? This appeared on another forum three days ago:


Most folks who read this will think it is a good report. Few will notice the comments about those most at risk, or the comment about stocking up now or missing the oportunity later.

If you are not ready you will never be by the time these guys are done with their work. Don't forget the old maxim,"Hi I am from the government and I here to help", never works out in real life.

Y2K Files Food-Supply Chain's Readiness Examined By TAMARA REED San Diego Daily Transcript June 7, 1999

Food and water are basic necessities for life, but they are not generally the first items that come to mind when thinking about the year-2000 problem. Computers and electronic devices are the products normally associated with Y2K, but the basic necessities of life are reliant on electronics and should be considered along with Palm Pilots, mobile phones and PCs when individuals are doing their Y2K planning. Numerous factors are involved in the process of moving food from manufacturers and farmers to the homes of hungry people. Fortunately, many of the channels involved in the food-delivery process claim to be prepared.

The food industry relies on computers in every sector. Farmers use electronic devices for watering fields and feeding animals. Packaging and preparation of consumer-ready products are controlled by computers, and aspects of delivery, storage, display, transportation and sales of food products also rely on computer-driven equipment. As a result, the President's Council On Year 2000 created the Food Supply Working Group to address Y2K concerns.

The Food Supply Working Group has members from the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services and State, as well as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The goal of the group is to fix Y2K problems on every level of the "farm to fork" chain. At the consumer level, the group has established a list of major grocery stores that have released their Y2K information to the public. The list contains Ralphs, Lucky, Albertson's and major stores across the country. Users can go to the Web site at and find out what their grocer has done to prepare for year 2000.

Emergency planning is not a new arena for the food-supply industry. In a statement after a roundtable discussion with the Food Supply Working Group last month, John Koskinen, Chair of the national Year 2000 Conversion Committee, explained that the food-supply industry has always had to deal with emergency situations and, as a result, typically has a 60-day inventory of food. They have existing contingency plans for many types of emergencies, and those plans are being altered to address year-2000 problems.

In addition to contingency planning, Koskinen spoke positively about the Food Supply Working Group's progress in all areas. Government agencies with specific needs have been getting involved; the Department of Education has been preparing its school lunch programs, and the Department of Defense -- the largest purchaser of food in the United States -- has been playing an active role in the FWG.

"Government agencies and trade organizations representing each part of the food-supply system have been working aggressively and successfully to address the Y2K problem," Koskinen said. "Participants explained that their industries have reviewed their computer systems and are nearing completion in preparing for the year-2000 date change, thereby ensuring the normal production, processing, distribution and sales of food."

Although Koskinen gives assurance that the food-supply industry will be prepared, the effect of the public on the food supply may be unpredictable. Anne Reed, the USDA's chief information officer, commented on this fact at a conference last March,

"USDA, the FSWG, and the President's Council get questions almost daily from people wanting to know if they should stockpile food, how to do it and how much, Reed said. "In fact, there is a legitimate fear that the greatest damage to the food supply won't come from technology failures, but from human fears as people needlessly horde and stockpile food, disrupting grocery inventory systems."

In addition to concerns regarding the public's fear of Y2K, Reed discussed another problem affecting the Food Supply Industry. "People who may be most at risk are those who do not have the capacity to stockpile or store food, even in the case of a normal winter storm. I'm talking about the people who rely on food stamps, or who earn too much to qualify for food stamps and rely on local food banks."

Reed said assisting people living in poverty is at the top of the USDA's agenda. Food banks report they don't have enough food now, but the USDA is taking steps to assure they will have food in 2000. One of their major initiatives is to increase the recovery of food from restaurants and supermarkets that otherwise would end out in the garbage.

No one -- rich or poor -- would be eating in 2000 if the first level of the "farm to fork" chain wasn't prepared. But the results of a National Agricultural Statistics Service survey suggest most farmers are ready to face Y2K. The survey of approximately 1,500 farmers and ranchers found most farmers do not use automated systems, and most of those that did were taking steps to address the year-2000 problem. The results showed 81 percent of U.S. farmers were aware of the date glitch, but only 32 percent used automated systems, mostly for record keeping. The survey also found that only about 2.5 percent use automated systems such as feeding systems, storage systems, milking systems, heating, cooling or ventilation systems for livestock and global positioning systems in the production process.

The FSWG does not expect to enter 2000 without any problems; however, they expect most problems will be specific to certain products or certain regions. The FSWG gave assurance of their Y2K progress in their most recent executive report to the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion.

"The American public can be confident that the major domestic companies, which provide most of the key foods, will continue to operate in spite of the year-2000 problem."

For the people who are planning to stockpile food, buying food in advance is not harmful, but waiting until the last minute could be. The FSWG gives the following advice for people who are trying to decide whether or not to buy additional food:

"It just makes good sense to have some extra supplies on hand during winter months in case there is a weather-related emergency, not just for Y2K. We think that people should be prepared just as they would be if they expected a winter storm."



-- LP (, June 10, 1999.

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