NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Race To Beat The Y2K Bug

July 16, 1999

Many cities and states will be working right up to the final minute of 1999 to avoid computer shut-downs when the year 2000 hits. That is the view the General Accounting Office and other experts expressed to a Senate committee yesterday.

  • Of America's 21 largest cities, only Boston and Dallas are ready to deal with the year 2000 computer bug.
  • Although 37 states report that they are more than 70 percent year 2000 compliant, the General Accounting Office warned that they may not finish until New Year's Eve.
  • The glitch could disrupt any government function involving machines with embedded computer chips -- such as stoplights, transportation systems and emergency services.
  • A GAO official reported that some state completion dates "are so close to the turn of the century that the risk of disruption to their programs is substantially increased, especially if schedule delays or unexpected problems arise."

Efforts to avoid shutdowns have already produced damage. A massive sewage spill occurred in Los Angeles in June during a year 2000 test because monitoring equipment failed to detect a closed gate. Residents of New Berlin, Wisconsin, just a few days ago had no water for 24 hours, as a new computer system was being installed.

Source: Laura B. Vanderkam, "U.S. Cities Not Ready for Year 2000 Bug," Washington Times, July 16, 1999.


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