USCM Releases Y2K Compliance Survey; White House Conversion Chair Encouraged by Findings
By James Welfley
According to the recently released findings of the Y2K Compliance in City Governments survey conducted by The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the nation's cities are preparing for the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem. The survey found that 97 percent of the cities surveyed have at least taken the first step toward prevention: they have developed a citywide plan to address Y2K issues. The survey also found that more than a third of the respondents have completed all of their computer system assessments and are repairing or replacing outmoded systems.
Late last year, the White House asked the Conference to help determine how prepared the nation's cities were for the impending Y2K glitch. The survey, disseminated in November, 1998, asked cities for information regarding Y2K, including contingency plans, budgets, areas of concern, priorities and status of preparedness. 220 cities responded -- 217 of which with populations of 30,000 or more -- either through the Conference web site or by fax.
John Koskinen, Chair of the President's Council on Y2K Conversion, thanked the more than 300 mayors in attendance at the Conference's 1999 Winter Meeting in January for its hard work on the issue and reported that he was encouraged by the findings. He urged the mayors, however, to continue their leadership in this area.
"You have a significant role to play in addressing this issue because of your proximity to the people, " Koskinen said. He then laid out the three ways in which the mayors can continue to tackle this "ultimate management challenge":
1) Don't let the issue turn into one for the Information Technology department. "By saying, 'They'll handle it,' you are saying 'It's not a priority.'" He urged mayors to learn all they could about the issue and actively pursue solutions.
2) Communicate to the public. "Where you have the absence of fact, there is potential for misinformation." By keeping the public informed, mayors lower the risk of "public reaction to perceptions."
3) "Share information with your confederates." By sharing information regarding what works and what doesn't with other cities, cities can both teach and learn from one another's "best practices" for this global issue.
Other findings from the survey include:
- All of the cities have designated an individual who is responsible for achieving Y2K compliance; in more than half (53 percent) of the cities, that individual is assigned to the information technology or management information systems agency within city government.
- Asked to identify the number one priority for Y2K compliance, the cities named, in order of frequency: emergency response, management information systems, general government administration, the police department, utilities, and taxation and finance.
- Asked how many of their computer applications would have to be repaired or replaced, 38 percent of the cities said 10 or fewer, 33 percent said between 11 and 50, 11 percent said between 51 and 100, and another 11 percent reported more than 100. One percent reported that no computer applications need repair or replacement.
- All but seven (97 percent) of the survey cities have completed more than half of their computer system assessments, and well over one-third have completed all of them; 79 percent have completed more than half of their system repairs or replacements; and 54 percent have completed more than half of their system testing.
- Well over half (54 percent) of the cities have inventoried all of their equipment containing embedded chips, and just under half are relying on in-house staff to resolve the embedded chip issue.
- More than two-thirds of the cities are planning to conduct a citywide Y2K test, and four percent of these already have conducted it.
- Forty-four percent of the cities have developed a contingency plan for Y2K "snafus" on January 1, 2000.
- Information on funds spent on Y2K compliance prior to FY98 was provided by 168 cities; their spending ranged from $500 to $19 million and, for the group, totaled $90.8 million. Funds for Y2K compliance have been budgeted for FY99 by 139 of the cities; their spending ranged from $1,000 to $32.2 million and, for the group, totaled $164 million. Funds for Y2K compliance have been budgeted for FY00 by 70 of the cities; their spending ranges from $1,000 to $19.9 million and totals $57 million.
- For the 136 cities able to estimate their total cost for compliance, the range was $2,000 to $59 million, and the total for the group was $296 million. Of the 200 survey cities which know how they will pay for their Y2K compliance plans, all but one will rely primarily on local general funds.
- Asked to identify the system which has given them the most difficulty with Y2K compliance, most cities named, in order of frequency: embedded chips, financial management or accounting systems, utilities, old computer systems, outside vendors or agencies (over which they have no control), public safety, and individual personal computers (PCs).
For a copy of this survey, please visit the Conference web site at /uscm or call James Welfley at 202.293.7330.