Leadership emerges as Y2K's lesson learned

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September 15, 2000

Leadership emerges as Y2K's lesson learned

By Tanya N. Ballard tballard@govexec.com The same collective effort and energy put into preventing the year 2000 computing challenge can be used to resolve ongoing information technology management challenges, according to a new General Accounting Office report.

Computers didn't crash and the world didn't end at the dawn of the new millennium thanks to the strong partnerships between Congress, the administration, federal agencies, state and local governments and the private sector, GAO concluded in the report, "Year 2000 Computing Challenge: Lessons Learned Can Be Applied to Other Management Challenges" (AIMD-00-290).

"As the federal government moves to fully embrace the digital age and focuses on electronic government initiatives, such comprehensive and focused leadership is of paramount importance," the study found. "Congress should consider establishing a formal chief information officer position for the federal government to provide central leadership and support."

The federal government spent four years and $8.5 billion fighting Y2K, a problem many thought would be a tremendous blow to the economy. Together, the U.S. government and private industry spent $100 billion combating the millennium bug.

The fact that the Y2K problem didn't wreak havoc as anticipated does not preclude the need for a federal chief information officer, the report said.

One of the key elements that made the Y2K readiness movement successful was the sustained and effective bipartisan oversight by Congress, the report said. Leadership, commitment and coordination by the federal government, which included periodic reporting and oversight of agency efforts and partnerships with states, the private sector, and foreign countries also paved the way for success.

While plans, processes and inventories used to address the Y2K date conversion remain in place, continuity in leadership in the information technology area has lagged, GAO concluded.

Office of Management and Budget officials disagreed with GAO's recommendation for a federal CIO. "The requisite authorities such an office should have are already vested in" OMB's deputy director for management, the agency said in its response to the report.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 16, 2000


What nice publicity. Sounds really good, in legal-ese type language. I sit at my government computer, with a program invented by a contactor, who has long left the scene, with his bounty, in hand. His/her freaking testimonal program takes twice as long, and has glitches enough to make you wail. Why/how does my auto repairman hold more expertise? And why do we not demand the same of the puter folks? Personally know of one outfit which promotes their Secretaries into computer Guru's, after a time tenure. May Heaven help us all.

-- My Story (andIam@sticking.com), September 17, 2000.

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