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Y2K Policy & Compliance Issues
(Released October 1999)

 

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The year 2000 (Y2K) computer problem poses a potential threat to the continued proper functioning of many national infrastructures. These include telecommunications, utilities, financial services, health care, transportation, government services, and military preparedness. The uncertainty regarding which systems are most vulnerable to failures are discussed in The Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report for Congress, Year 2000 Problem: Potential Impacts on National Infrastructures (December 4, 1998). The CRS Issues Brief, Y2K Challenges and Transportation: Risks and Solutions (April 30, 1999) provides an overview of the potential for Y2K risks affecting transportation systems.

If local governments' computer systems are not Y2K-compliant many services, such as utilities, public health, emergency services and transit systems, could be interrupted or unavailable. The federal government will also be unable to deliver critical social services if data exchanges with state governments are not Y2K-compliant. The CRS Issue Briefs, Year 2000 Computer Problem: Local Government Issues (August 23, 1999) and Year 2000 Computer Problem: State Government Issues (August 17, 1999) examine the scope and significance of this problem.

© Copyright 1999, All Rights Reserved, CSA

 

CRS Reports

Year 2000 Problem: Potential Impacts on National Infrastructures

Summary

The year 2000 (Y2K) computer problem poses a potential threat to the continued proper functioning of many national infrastructures. These include telecommunications, utilities, financial services, health care, transportation, government services, and military preparedness. Other sectors -- such as water, agriculture, food processing and distribution, emergency services, and small and medium sized businesses -- have also been identified as having potentially significant Y2K problems but, due to space constraints, are not discussed here. While public and private sector entities report progress toward resolving their Y2K problems, much uncertainty remains regarding which systems are most vulnerable to failures. The overall impact resulting from the Y2K problem to some degree still depends on remediation progress made in 1999. For further background and a discussion of efforts to correct the problem, see CRS Issue Brief 97036, The Year 2000 Computer Problem: Activity in the 105th Congress, and CRS Report 98-377, Year 2000 Problem: Chronology of Hearings and Legislation, both updated regularly. This report will be updated as needed.

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Y2K Challenges and Transportation: Risks and Solutions

Summary

Many companies or governmental entities provide or use transportation systems that are heavily dependent on computers, software, and other technologies that do not have Y2K problems, e.g., they are Y2K compliant or ready. Some transportation systems, however, still use technologies with Y2K problems, which if left uncorrected, could pose safety risks or efficiency concerns on or after January 1, 2000. The extent and nature of those impacts are expected to vary among the modes of transportation and among various providers or users. In addition, Y2K-related problems occurring in the communications and energy industries could reduce the safety and efficiency of some transportation systems in early January 2000. Operations at some foreign ports and international air traffic control systems with Y2K problems also could adversely affect shipments and flights into and out of the United States. The total amount that has been spent to assess and fix Y2K problems affecting transportation is not known, but estimates suggest that at least $1 billion of private sector, transit authority, and federal funds have been or will soon be allocated for that purpose. The reader seeking a broad overview of the Y2K issue, including a discussion of relevant legislation and liability issues, should order CRS Info Pack 528Y, entitled "Year 2000 Computer Problem." This report will be updated as necessary.

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Year 2000 Computer Problem: Local Government Issues

Summary

There are approximately 87,000 local government jurisdictions in the United States. They deliver many basic services to their citizens, including: schools, utilities, hospitals and public health, emergency services (fire, police, rescue, 911), airports, transit systems, public and private records, correctional facilities, and the criminal justice system. If local governments' computer systems are not Y2K-compliant, these services could be interrupted or unavailable.

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Year 2000 Computer Problem: State Government Issues

Summary

The federal government sends and receives data from the states in support of many social service programs. Examples of such programs are: Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, Food Stamps, and Unemployment Insurance. The federal government will not be able to deliver critical social services if data exchanges with state governments are not Y2K- compliant, yet there is no complete picture of their readiness

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