Y2K bug squashed, US officials say

As the first business day of 2000 drew to a close on the US East Coast today, Y2K Czar John Koskinen declared the millennium bug squashed and began pulling up stakes at the government's Y2K command centre.

At the last of nine press briefings since New Year's Eve, Koskinen said he had touched base with 36 states and representatives from major industry sectors, including aviation, utilities and others. None had any significant Y2K glitches to report. "What we have referred to as the Y2K bug has been squashed," he said. "We will probably see some problems pop up over the next few days and weeks, but they will likely not prove disruptive to the economy."

Despite the lack of calamity since his earlier briefing at noon, Koskinen ran through a laundry list of minor incidents.

"I do this, not to regale you with minor glitches, but to show that we have talked to major industries, which have made substantial investments" to avoid real disasters, he said.

Of the lesser problems Koskinen ran across, he mentioned a case in a state - which he declined to identify - where several older, non-Y2K compliant systems were replaced before the millennial date change.

Nonetheless, state officials decided to leave the three older administrative systems standing through Y2K to see what would happen. State officials "were struck by the fact that they did just stop," said Koskinen.

He referred to the case as a possible "control group" for what could have happened, had government and industry not gone through rigorous measures to thwart Y2K system failures.

From his conference call with 36 states, Koskinen also reported that half of those did not experience even minor glitches. The other half saw some small, mostly "cosmetic" problems which were easily addressed, he added.

Other minor incidents mentioned included a case where a small trucking company was unable to access files and will likely apply to the US Small Business Administration for a loan to replace troublesome hardware and software.

One local police station for a short time retrieved 1999 files instead of current data in a system that was again rapidly repaired.

Also, a cargo transport system at one of the nation's ports was out for about two hours in what is thought to be a date change failure. But that too was easily remedied.

Because the nation overall seems to be experiencing little trouble, Koskinen said he will immediately begin winding down operations at the Information Coordination Centre. ICC has funneled information between federal agencies and major industries and out to the public over the weekend.

"I believe we have moved out of the range of risk where a number of problems would be going simultaneously and information coordination would be an issue," he said.

The ICC nightshift of a normal 200 tonight will be in the 80-100-person range. Koskinen said he would hold future briefings only if there are major incidents to report.

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