Koskinen speaks out

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

This is long Q&A transcript. Will just post the first part.

27 January 2000

Transcript: What Happened to Y2K? Koskinen Speaks Out (Administration Y2K coordinator assesses global remediation) (4,650)


The costly effort undertaken in the past two years to deal with the Year 2000 computer problem prevented massive disruptions in systems and services during the date rollover into the new millennium, according to White House Y2K coordinator John Koskinen.

Koskinen, Chair of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, said in a January 18 interview in Washington that the relatively problem-free date change that occurred is an indication not that the Y2K problem was not serious, but that the work devoted to fixing thousands of computer systems worldwide was successful.

Koskinen said the absence of serious Y2K disruptions in developing countries, where remediation efforts had lagged behind those in industrial countries, is explained by the less intense reliance in those countries on digital technology, and by the fact that they were able to apply the lessons learned from dealing with the problem elsewhere.

Koskinen spoke with the Office of International Information Program's Paul Malamud about the smooth transition into the year 2000, and the work that made it possible.

Following is a transcript of the interview. In the transcript, "billion" equals 1,000 million.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), January 28, 2000


Two more stories in defense of y2k spending

(Fair use for education and research purposes only)

Daily News $100Bil On Y2K Defended

By Brian Krebs, Newsbytes. January 28, 2000

Nearly four weeks after most of the world experienced a relatively uneventful rollover into Y2K, those responsible for guiding this country's preparations for the rollover were asked to justify the time and estimated $100 billion expended toward that effort.

In testifying before the Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology, Y2K czar John Koskinen said government agencies and private industry correctly understood the inherent risks associated with Y2K and therefore took the requisite steps to avert any major Year 2000 problems. He added that a number of noteworthy problems that did arise in the US - from difficulties at state motor vehicles offices to the Defense Department satellite system failure - proved that Y2K was indeed a very real threat. "Thus far, there have been few problems that have had a noticeable impact on the general public. How did it happen? It wasn't by accident," Koskinen said. "There was a tremendous mobilization of people and resources to make sure that systems would operate effectively into the Year 2000." Perhaps today's most telling testimony to that effect came from the Subcommittee Chairman Stephen Horn, R-Calif.

"The executive branch of the federal government has not always been known as a careful steward of its citizens' money. Large corporations have waste also, but those that are publicly traded could not afford to squander hundreds of millions of dollars on unnecessary computer problems and contingency plans," Horn said.

"Whether large or small, successful businesses rarely fritter away money. This was a massive problem that required a massive solution."

Koskinen also fielded questions as to why countries that were deemed considerably less prepared for Y2K seemed to have emerged unscathed, especially after having invested comparatively paltry amounts toward Y2K remediation.

Koskinen said the chief reason was the difficulty in getting accurate status reports from other countries, where outdated Y2K progress reports were often overtaken by subsequent progress, particularly within the last six months of 1999. He added that many countries that were late in starting remediation efforts had the benefit of the lessons learned by those who had been working on Y2K for several years. Koskinen said beyond the world's largest users of information technology, most countries were significantly less dependent on IT to control critical infrastructures, and were more likely to rely on "off the shelf" technologies.

Shortly after monitoring activities during the Leap Year rollover, The President's Council on Year 2000 - which Koskinen chairs - will post its "going out of business" sign. Koskinen said he expects the Leap Year rollover to go just as smoothly as the transition into the New Year.

Fernando Burbano, chief information officer for the State Department, testified that most of the resources tapped in addressing the Y2K problem will help lay the groundwork for the CIO Council's Subcommittee on Critical Infrastructure Protection - the entity given the mandate to protect that nation against cyber attacks and information warfare - which he chairs. Burbano said widespread development of contingency plans and the global reporting structure used to report Y2K problems would be leveraged into a mechanism for monitoring cyber threats against critical infrastructures.

As for the $50 million Information Coordination Center (ICC) that housed the government's Y2K monitoring efforts, Koskinen said the administration will wait until March 1 to announce what - if any - function the center will serve in the future. Reported by Newsbytes.com

Link to story:


Second story from India Express:

Friday, January 28, 2000 U.S. funds to attack Y2K bug are well spent: Experts WASHINGTON: Top U.S. government and private-sector technology experts on Thursday defended the huge sums spent to ``squash'' the Year 2000 computer bug and warned Congress that glitches may crop up yet. ``Did we spend too much?'' asked Fernando Burbano, the State Department's chief information officer and head of an interagency panel on protecting critical U.S. systems, reports Reuters.

``Absolutely not,'' he told a joint hearing of two House panels that monitored the $8.4 billion spent by the federal government to make sure systems would correctly interpret ``00'' as 2000, not 1900, and whir on. ``We should be careful not to confuse the lack of catastrophic disruptions with unnecessary preparations by the federal government,'' he said. The Commerce Department estimated in November that combined U.S. private-sector and government Y2K upgrades would cost about $100 billion by next year, or about $365 for every man, woman and child in the United States. President Clinton's top Y2K adviser, John Koskinen, declared on Jan. 3 that ``what has been referred to as the Y2K bug has been squashed with regard to the key infrastructure systems in the United States.'' ``To date, there have been no reports of serious Y2K-related problems that have affected trade between the United States and its major economic partners,'' he told the House Government Reform Committee and Science Committee sub- panels on Thursday. Koskinen said the Y2K rollover had gone more smoothly ''than any of us would have imagined'' but dismissed second- guessers' claims that the threat had been greatly exaggerated all along. Tackling a recurring question, he cited unspecified countries that appeared to have spent little on the problem and were considered relatively unprepared but that had emerged apparently unscathed from the change. Koskinen said many such nations may have spent the bulk of their funds in a concentrated effort in the last six to nine months of 1999 and, unlike the United States, were not ``saddled with old legacy systems built with antiquated, customized code by people who had long retired.'' ``The bottom lines is that the fixes were frequently more straightforward in those countries than in the U.S.,'' Koskinen added. Overall, the bug was beaten by a ``tremendous mobilization of people and resources,'' he said. Charles Rossotti, commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, said in draft testimony that the U.S. tax collection agency had experienced a smoother Dec. 9 to Jan. 3 rollover with fewer glitches ``than in a normal year.'' But Rossotti, like other witnesses, warned against declaring total victory on Y2K, which could still boggle computers coping with the Feb. 29 Leap Day, end-of-quarter and end-of-year reporting periods.

``We are not out of the woods yet,'' said Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, which loosely links 26,000 corporations in the United States. ``If left uncorrected or corrected improperly, the Y2K bug would have proven troublesome at best and disastrous at worst,'' Miller said. He said Y2K-related upgrades would pay great dividends in ``productivity, competency and understanding of technology.'' Among glitches cited to illustrate Y2K pitfalls were a Defense Department spy satellite system hobbled by a glitch on the ground; failures of medical devices made by a Swedish company, double-charging snafus in credit card processing; a weather system shutdown in Chicago. ``While the popular perception surrounding Y2K conjured fears of a major and immediate meltdown, many knowledgeable observers have warned of the cumulative effect instead,'' Harris said. ``As with everything else Y2K, only time will tell.''

Link to story:


-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), January 28, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ