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July 14, 1998

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The 'Millennium Bug' is a vivid and powerful reminder of the ways we are growing ever-more interdependent. The powerful forces of change that have helped create unimagined abundance also bear with them the possibilities of new and unexpected consequences. This is the way of the new era. No government acting alone can meet this new challenge of the Information Age. No company, or even industry, can act alone.

President Bill Clinton
July 14, 1998

Today, President Clinton and Vice President Gore review the federal government's efforts to prepare its critical systems for the Year 2000 century date change and challenge businesses to take responsibility for making sure that their systems are ready for the new millennium. The President will announce federal initiatives to promote information sharing on year 2000 efforts and to connect people who have skills for addressing the problem with employers who are in need of their services.

The Year 2000 Problem. Information technology has made possible advances ranging from the ability to invest money electronically in markets halfway around the globe to satellite tracking of approaching weather systems to ground breaking research to find cures for the most complex diseases. This far reaching advancement is threatened by the year 2000 problem (Y2K), which stems from the use in many computer systems of a two-digit dating method that assumes 1 and 9 are the first two digits of the year. Without programming changes, these systems will recognize "00" as the year 1900, not 2000, which would cause computers to either shut down or malfunction on January 1, 2000.

A Presidential Commitment To Meeting The Y2K Problem. Y2K is a problem that affects organizations and governments worldwide. President Clinton is committed to addressing this problem and encouraging businesses and other governments to focus on fixing their computers to ensure Y2K compliance:

  • Establishing the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion. In February, President Clinton established the Council on Year 2000 conversion to coordinate the federal government's efforts to increase awareness of the Y2K problem and encourage action in public and private sector organizations.
  • The "Are You Y2K OK?" Campaign initiated by the Small Business Administration (SBA) is encouraging more than 20 million small businesses to determine their Y2K risk by conducting a self-assessment test available on SBA's Internet Y2K home page, www.sba.gov/y2k/.
  • Working With Major Industry Associations to ensure that they are addressing the Y2K problem. Various working groups established between the federal government and the private sector in energy, telecommunications, and banking and finance are identifying and emphasizing the importance of addressing the Y2K problem.
  • Increasing International Awareness by discussing the Y2K problem with heads of state at both the G-8 Birmingham Summit and the Summit of the Americas. Under the President's leadership, the Year 2000 Council worked closely with the United Nations on the draft of a recently passed UN resolution that calls upon all member states to act on the Y2K problem.
  • Year 2000 "Good Samaritan" Legislation. President Clinton will propose legislation to promote a more open sharing of year-2000 related information by protecting those who carefully share information on Y2K solutions or on whether a product is Y2K compliant, from liability claims based on the sharing of that information.
  • Department of Labor World Wide Web Y2K Job Bank. The Labor Department has created a Y2K information technology (IT) job bank on the World Wide Web (http://it.jobsearch.org) in order to concentrate available workers and the needs of the IT industry in one place.
  • World Bank Contribution. The United States will contribute funds to support the World Bank's efforts to increase awareness of the year 2000 problem in developing countries.
  • National Campaign for Year 2000 Solutions. Later this month, the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion will kick off its "National Campaign for Year 2000 Solutions" to promote public and private sector action on Y2K and to foster information-sharing solutions.

Working Together Toward Y2K Solutions. Ensuring Y2K compliance requires a mutual effort between all sectors of our society. Today's announcements will encourage information sharing on Year 2000 solutions, protect those who assist others in becoming Y2K compliant, and increase awareness of the problem.

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