Clinton Urges Americans To Act On Y2K Problem
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 14) -- Stressing the "pressing need for action" to solve the Year 2000 (Y2K) computer problem, President Bill Clinton announced Tuesday a new campaign to share information and solutions for the coming crisis.
The effort will include "Good Samaritan" legislation to guarantee that businesses sharing information about Y2K cannot be held liable if the information turns out to be inaccurate; a national campaign to promote partnership between industry groups and government agencies; and a job bank to help fill the need for programmers and information technology experts.
In the late 1960s, as part of an effort to save memory and money, many programmers and microchip producers shortened date fields in computer programs to two digits, assuming that any date put into the system would begin with 19.
At 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2000, those programs and chips will think the date is Jan. 1, 1900.
"It is a complex task that requires us all to work together, every government agency, every university, every hospital, every business large and small," Clinton told the audience at the National Academy of Sciences.
He called on government to first "put our own house in order."
"We've worked hard to be ready. I set a government wide goal of full compliance by March of 1999," the president said. "The American people have a right to expect uninterrupted service from government, and I expect them to deliver."
Clinton applauded the Social Security Administration as one success story, saying the agency has more than 90 percent of its critical systems ready for 2000.
But with only 535 days until the deadline, Clinton said too many private businesses are still unprepared. He cited a Wells Fargo bank survey that found roughly half of the small business that even knew about the Y2K bug intend to do nothing about it.
The president challenged business of all sizes to assess their exposure and develop contingency plans, exchange and pool information among themselves, and take responsibility for informing customers of the status of their preparations.
Clinton said the government's new campaign will help businesses meet these challenges.
"We can do more to help businesses reach these goals, Clinton said. "No one will ever find every embedded microchip, every line of code that needs to be rewritten. But if companies, agencies and organizations are ready, if they understand the threat and have backup plans, then we will meet this challenge."
Clinton also pledged to help other nations combat the Y2K crisis, announcing a $12 million grant to the World Bank's efforts to increase awareness of the bug in developing countries.