U.S. Report to Calm Y2K Fears

Clinton administration releases a report and other surveys find Y2K is losing interest

If the power does go out on New Year’s Eve how will we know if it’s a computer Y2K problem or just a common occurrence? The Clinton Administration wants all of us to realize that problems with electricity and flight delays are common and just because they happen on New Year’s Eve doesn’t make them necessarily a Y2K issue.

The White House is releasing a report, which shows how often some systems break down. The move is an effort to avert public panic at the first sight of a power outage on New Year’s Eve. The date rollover may be to blame, or may not.

ATMs run out of money, cellular calls don’t get through all the time and storms cause the power to go out, things happen daily and that’s the message of the President Clinton’s top Y2K adviser.

``Every day things go wrong, and nobody pays much attention to them, nobody thinks twice about it,'' John Koskinen, President's Clinton's top Y2K adviser told the Associated Press. ``But any of those things that happen on January 1st will immediately be presumed to be the indication of a Y2K problem.''

If there are problems on New Year’s eve it may take weeks to determine if that was a typical problem or a Y2K issue. The Washington-based Edison Electric Institute said in a report for the White House that any power failure over the Jan. 1 weekend ``is almost certain to have occurred because of one of the usual reasons'' rather than the Y2K bug. The report notes that there are interruptions in the power grid all the time.

The Clinton Administration report comes out at a time when the American public is actually tiring about hearing about Y2K, and is already feeling more confident that computer glitches will not have much impact on their lives.

A recent survey for the National Association of Manufacturers found that 93 percent of members expected the year 2000 to have almost no impact on their companies. Only 4 percent thought there would be significant disruptions.

A Gallup Poll released at the beginning of the month showed that the public was expecting less major disruptions. While one in three people expected major problems a year ago, only 14 percent felt the same way in the survey.

Another sign that people are less concerned about Y2K problems is taking a look at the books they’re buying. Only one book is still selling well among a