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March 31, 1998

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Tuesday, March 31, 1998


Today, OMB Director Raines, Small Business Administration Administrator Alvarez and John Koskinen hold an event to highlight the Administration's efforts to address the year 2000 computer problem (Y2K).

Why Prepare For The Year 2000? Currently many computers use two digits to record the date (1998 is "98") and may be unable to properly recognize the year 2000 when it arrives. This "Y2K problem" may cause such computers to stop running or to start generating erroneous data. In a world increasingly dependent upon the electronic exchange of financial and other data, the year 2000 problem is a global one that could potentially affect many Americans and their businesses. The consequences of these systems failing could range from minor inconveniences, like not being able to properly program your VCR, to serious disruptions like the failure of local power or telephone service.

Working To Minimize The Year 2000 Problems. The Administration is committed to minimizing year 2000-related disruptions in the lives of the American people. Last month, the President established by Executive Order, the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion. In addition to ensuring that Federal agencies use resources effectively to make their own mission-critical systems year 2000 compliant, the Council will be working with agencies to ensure that the Federal Government is reaching out, particularly to private sector organizations, to increase awareness to the year 2000 problem and to offer education, support, and possible solutions as they are identified.

Reaching Out To Businesses. The Council is enlisting Federal agencies to serve as economic "sector coordinators," encouraging them to reach out to private sector organizations -- both domestically and internationally -- that fall within their policy areas. Of all the private sector organizations, small businesses are of special concern because, unlike large Fortune 500 corporations, many do not have adequate institutional resources for fixing the problem.

Preparing Small Business For Transition To the Year 2000. As sector coordinator for the Nation's small businesses, the Small Business Association is working to reach out to small business owners on the year 2000 problem.

  • SBA provides a web page (www.sba.gov) that offers small business owners valuable tools to help them ensure that their systems are ready for the transition to the year 2000. These include:

      -- a checklist for business owners to use in determining whether they will have a problem;

      -- a description of the five-step process businesses should follow to deal with the problem;

      -- a search engine to enable businesses to find outside firms that can help them solve year 2000 problems;

      -- a database of year 2000-compliant equipment and software; and

      -- links to larger companies and descriptions of their year 2000 efforts.

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