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House Approves Y2K Compliance Bill

October 13, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Federal agencies in danger of not having their computers ready for the year 2000 could come under control of the president’s Y2K chief under a bill the House approved Tuesday.

The bill urges the president to authorize John Koskinen, chairman of the president’s Council on the Year 2000 Conversion, to take control of the computer systems of critical agencies if they’re not likely to meet the Jan. 1, 2000, deadline. The legislation was approved 407-3.

Computer programmers inside and outside government are scrambling to avert disasters expected when New Year’s Day 2000 arrives. That’s when computer systems performing calculations involving dates may begin generating incorrect data because they recognize only the last two digits of a year and will assume that 2000 is 1900.

The Year 2000, or Y2K, computer glitch could spark anything from power outages, traffic snarls, paycheck delays and disruption of air travel, some experts have said.

``I think we all know the dangers that lurk around the corner if we fail to take the action necessary to address the Year 2000 problem,″ said Rep. Constance Morella, R-Md., during debate on the House floor.

``By failing to address the Y2K problem, our nation is in danger of being plunged into a catastrophic economic recession with severe business disruptions in the delivery of essential government and private industry services,″ said Morella, who introduced the legislation.

The Senate has not yet voted on the measure.

The bill also:

_Urges the president to encourage business to come up with contingency plans should they fail to have their computer systems ready in time.

_Urges the president to provide leadership by aggressively promoting Y2K awareness.

_Requires all federal agencies to report their progress in meeting the deadline to Congress.

_Requires two agencies _ the National Institutes of Standards and Technology and the Small Business Administration _ to develop outreach programs for small and medium-sized businesses.

_Directs the Commerce Department to develop a consumer awareness program.

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