Y2K Money Well Spent

Experts say the $100 Billion spent on the computer bug was necessary

As the countdown clocks rolled from 1999 to the year 2000 everyone around the world waited anxiously to see if the Y2K computer glitch would strike. After all, the United States alone had spent $100 billion on Y2K fixes. When the year 2000 dawned and nothing extraordinary went wrong, event though that was the plan, many wondered if the money spent was worthwhile. Was it really needed?

Top U.S. government and private sector technology experts say the money was well spent. When nothing happened that proved their point that the computer glitches were fixed.

``We should be careful not to confuse the lack of catastrophic disruptions with unnecessary preparations by the federal government,'' said Fernando Burbano, the State Department's chief information officer and head of an interagency panel on protecting critical U.S. systems.

When asked if the U.S. spent too much, Burbano told a joint hearing of two House panels the answer was "absolutely not". Burbano told the panels that monitored the $8.4 Billion spent by the government alone was necessary to make sure computer systems would correctly interpret "00" as 2000, not 1900.

The Commerce Department estimated in November that Y2K cost about $365 per person in the United States. That’s a total of about $100 billion by next year.

President Clinton's top Y2K adviser, John Koskinen, said 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.''

Koskinen also dismissed second-guessers’ claims that the Y2K threat had been greatly exaggerated all along. Some said that other countries that didn’t spend as much as the U.S. had no big problems and that leads them to believe the Y2K problems were exaggerated. In response to that, Koskinen said the U.S. computer systems were built with antiquated customized code, and many of the people who knew the codes had retired long ago.

``The bottom lines is that the fixes were frequently more straightforward in those countries than in the U.S.,'' Koskinen told Reuters. Overall, the bug was beaten by a ``tremendous mobilization of people and
resources,'' he said.

One thing to remember, many experts say the Y2K computer problems are not over just yet. February 29 is Leap Day, and that raises a whole new issue of possible computer problems.

``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.''

Source: Reuters

DATE: 1/31/2000

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