Why Isnít the Government Doing More About the Year 2000 Problem?

This bill, introduced 3 years before the disaster, shows that the U.S. government has been warned of the scope of the problem. Yet, national leaders regularly speak to the public on issues far less important that these. Since bringing bad news does not bring popularity, they avoid the issue—even though public awareness would save many lives and much property. Below, we reprint the first part of the bill, adding underlines for emphasis.

 

105th CONGRESS 1st SESSION

S.22

To establish a bipartisan national commission to address the year 2000 computer problem.

______________________________

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

January 21, 1997

Mr. MOYNIHAN introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Governmental Affairs

______________________________

A BILL

To establish a bipartisan national commission to address the year 2000 computer problem.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the "Commission on the year 2000 Computer Problem Act".

SECTION 2. FINDINGS

Congress makes the following findings:

(1) A devastating computer problem will have extreme negative economic and national security consequences in the year 2000 and in subsequent years, unless the Federal Government addresses and remedies that problem.

(2) Most computer programs (particularly programs in mainframes) in computers used by both the public and private sector express dates with only 2 digits, on the assumption that the first 2 digits are "19"

(3) Because of the problem referred to in paragraph (2), most computer programs_

(A) Read "00-01-01" as "January 1, 1900"; and

(B) will not recognize the year 2000 or the 21st century without a massive rewriting of codes.

(4) The Congressional Research Service has completed a report on the implications of the problem described in paragraphs (2) and (3) (referred to in this Act as the "year 2000 computer problem").

(5) According to the report by the Congressional Research Service, each line of computer code will need to be analyzed and either passed on or be rewritten.

(6) According to leading research in the computer field-

(A) on the basis of an average cost of $1.10 per line of code, it may cost as much as $30,000,000,000 to correct the computer systems of the Federal Government; and

(B) it is important to address the crisis caused by the year 2000 computer problem immediately by making funds available by appropriations, because-

(i) the cost of remedying that problem will increase at an approximate rate of 20 to 50 percent per year;

(ii) the number of available persons with skills to address that problem will diminish as a result of increased demand;

(iii) the year 2000 computer problem is an international problem that could cost as much as $600,000,000,000 to repair on a worldwide basis;

(iv) that repair could be compromised by external contamination by foreign countries that do not comply with measures to effectuate the repair;

(v) the Federal Government and the governments of States and political sub-divisions thereof will bear a significant share of the cost of remedying the year 2000 computer problem; and

(vi) it is necessary to have adequate financial resources to ensure the proper operation of computer systems at the levels of government referred to in clause (v).

(7) The following analyses, determinations, and recommendations need to be made to address the problems of remedying the year 2000 computer problem:

(A) A brief analysis of the history and background concerning the reasons for the occurrence of the year 2000 computer problem.

(B) A determination of the costs of reviewing and rewriting computer codes for both the Federal Government and the governments of States for the 3-year period immediately, following the date of enactment of this Act, including-

(i) a legal analysis of responsibilities for the costs; and

(ii) possible equitable basis for sharing the costs.

(C) An analysis of the implications of the year 2000 computer problem with respect to intergovernmental and integrated systems.

(D) (i) A determination of the period of time necessary to remedy the year 2000 computer problem (including testing).

(ii) If the earliest practicable date determined under clause (i) is not January 1, 2000, a determination of-

(I) with respect to each Federal agency (as that term is defined in section 551(1) of title 5, United States Code)-

(aa) priority functions of that Federal agency; and

(bb) priority systems of that agency; and

(II) which Federal agencies are at risk of being incapable of performing basic services as a result of the year 2000 computer problem.

(E) The development of balanced and sound contracts to be used in necessary Federal procurement with respect to using private contractors in the computer industry, including contracts to carry out compliance with measures necessary to achieve a remedy of the year 2000 computer problem for computer programs and systems—

(i) in use as of the date of enactment of this Act; and

(ii) acquired after the date of enactment of this Act.

(F) An analysis of the effects and potential effects on the United States economy that would result if the year 2000 computer problem is not resolved by June 1, 1999.

(G) Recommendations to the President and the Congress concerning, with respect to minimizing costs and risks to the public and private sector as a result of the year 2000 computer problem—

(i) lessons to be learned; and

(ii) policies and actions to be taken—

(I) before the year 2000; and

(II) after the year 2000, if certain public agencies have not taken measures to remedy the year 2000 problem.

(8)(A) Congress recognizes that an executive branch interagency committee has been established to raise awareness of the year 2000 computer problem and facilitate efforts at remedying that problem.

(B) However, in order to best minimize the impact and cost of the year 2000 computer problem, and in recognition of the extreme urgency of the problem, this Act established a bipartisan commission to—

(i) conduct the analyses and determinations, and make the recommendations referred to in paragraph (7) and

(ii) take the responsibility of assisting appropriate Federal officials in ensuring that all Federal agencies will be in compliance with necessary measures to remedy the year 2000 computer problem not later than January 1, 1999.,

[Sections on running the commission removed] &


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