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Britain To Seek ’2000 Crisis’ Cure

March 30, 1998

LONDON (AP) _ Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday announced a 97 million pound ($160 million) program to tackle the looming computer crisis known as the ``millennium bug,″ including the training of 20,000 ``bug busters.″

``We are taking action on every single level. If we do not act, the result will be loss of money and influence on a disastrous scale,″ Blair said.

The prime minister said the bug could damage economic growth prospects and force companies into bankruptcy unless urgent action is taken.

The ``millennium bug,″ known more commonly in the United States as the Year 2000 problem, threatens computers that use only two digits to designate the year. If the software isn’t fixed, when the year changes from 99 to 00, the computers won’t know if it’s 2000 or 1900.

The problem could affect computer programs used by businesses and governments around the world for everything from traffic lights and police services to tax records and payroll systems.

Blair said his plans include 70 million pounds to train younger, older and unemployed people in computer skills necessary to help businesses solve the problem.

A U.S. consulting firm, Garner Group, estimated recently that about one-third of all American companies have not started working on the problem. The group said the largest firms are furthest ahead.

Blair said that in Britain an estimated one-fourth of companies have taken no action so far about the bug.

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