Washington D.C. Year 2000 Group Survey Results




Copyright (c) 1998, 1999 Bruce F. Webster

Last revised 09 March 1999


Two surveys were conducted via e-mail of the membership of the Washington D.C. Year 2000 Group. The first was done in March of 1998 (over 700 members at the time); the second was done in May (over 1000 members). The survey asked the recipients to estimate the impact of the Year 2000 problem within the United States on an escalating scale of 0 to 10, with definitions given for each value, and to identify their type of organization (government, corporate, military, etc.) from a given list. The respondents could add optional comments. Both surveys were anonymous.

The first survey resulted in 229 usable responses, and a white paper was issued on 21 April, 1998. The results showed two-thirds of the respondents believe that there will be at least an economic slowdown; over one-half think there will be a mild recession; over one-third think there will be a strong recession and local social disruptions; and a tenth believe there will be an economic depression and widespread failures in infrastructure, supply chain, and social cohesion.

The second survey, conducted in May of 1998 after the white paper had been distributed electronically to the membership and posted to the WDCY2K web site, resulted in 283 usable responses. The overall results were largely unchanged, though there were some shifts among responses in specific groups. Most notable was a shift in pessimism among those working in the US Department of Defense and Armed Forces.

These results were tabulated and press releases were issued at a Year 2000 conference hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies on June 8, 1998. However, no white paper was issued, and the press releases contained only a sampling of the comments included in some of the responses. The full combined survey results were finally published in The Y2K Survival Guide (Prentice-Hall, 1999) and are reproduced here with permission.

The Surveys

On March 3, 1998, Bruce Webster sent out an e-mail message [see Appendix A below] to the notification list of the Washington D.C. Year 2000 Group (WDCY2K). This list contained at that time well over 700 e-mail addresses of individuals who are notified about the meetings and other activities of the WDCY2K. The overwhelming majority of these individuals deal with Year 2000 issues in their respective organizations at some level: workers, technical managers, high-level managers, consultants, vendors, lawmakers, and so on. The stated intent of the e-mail was to conduct a survey of the notification list membership as to what they thought the impact of the Year 2000 problem would be within the United States.

The survey asked the recipients to identify themselves as belonging to a particular category: corporate/business; government; military; educational; organization; consultant/analyst; Y2K vendor of products or services; legal; press; recruiter; other. (Due to sparse and ambiguous responses, "press" and "recruiter" were later merged into "other".)

The survey then asked the recipients to estimate what they felt the impact of the Year 2000 problems would be within the United States, using an explicit scale of 0 to 10 [impact scale derived from possible Y2K consequences outlined in "How Serious is the Year 2000 Software Problem?", Capers Jones, 11/29/98]:

Table 1. Levels of impact in the WDCY2K survey
0 No real impact
1 Local impact for some enterprises
2 Significant impact for many enterprises
3 Significant market adjustment (20%+ drop); some bankruptcies
4 Economic slowdown; rise in unemployment; isolated social incidents
5 Mild recession; isolated supply/infrastructure problems; runs on banks
6 Strong recession; local social disruptions; many bankruptcies
7 Political crises; regional supply/infrastructure problems and social disruptions
8 Depression; infrastructure crippled; markets collapse; local martial law
9 Supply/infrastructure collapse; widespread social disruptions and martial law
10 Collapse of U.S. government; possible famine

[NOTE: "social incidents" and "disruptions" have to do with demonstrations, work stoppages, strikes, organized vandalism, looting, and riots]

[NOTE: "supply/infrastructure problems" have to do with food shortages, fuel/heating oil shortages, disruptions in public utilities (power, gas, telecom), disruptions in transportation (airlines, trucking), and so on.]

The recipients had the option of appending any comments they wished to clarify or elaborate on their choice. They were told that their responses would be kept confidential, which they have.

The survey was sent out on March 4th to the e-mail addresses that then constituted the WDCY2K notification list. One week later, a follow-up message was sent, encouraging the recipients to respond to the survey. The survey was closed at the end of March. During that time, over 230 responses were received, 229 of which contained the requested information. In some cases, the category of a given response (government, etc.) was changed to more closely reflect the intent of the survey.

The results of this survey were presented at the April 21, 1998, meeting of the Washington D.C. Year 2000 Group. They were also written up in a white paper that was then published on the WDCY2K web site and mailed out in electronic form to the WDCY2K membership. These results have been cited in several national publications, most notably in a Newsweek article that focused entirely upon them .

At the start of May, 1998, the survey was repeated for three reasons: to see if there was any significant variation in the results; to see if the results of the first survey had an impact on the members; and to extend the survey to the three hundred new members who had been added to the WDCY2K notification list since March 4th. A few minor changes and clarifications were made to the request.

The second survey was closed at the end of May. During that time, over 280 responses were received, of which 283 contained valid responses.

The Results

Table 2 (below) contains the responses to the survey. Each entry in the body of the table indicates how many individuals within that category (row) predicted a given level of impact (column). The right side shows the total number of respondents in that category and the average impact voted. The bottom rows show the number of respondents for each level of impact, what percentage of the total response that represents, and the percentage of the total who votes for that level of impact or higher. Where an individual gave a range of values, the lowest value was the only one tabulated.

Table 2. Results of the march 1998 Survey
IMPACT LEVEL: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 TOTAL AVG
Other 1 1 2 4 8.0
Legal 1 1 2 1 1 6 5.3
Educational 1 3 1 1 1 7 5.9
Organization 2 5 1 2 1 1 1 13 4.2
Military 1 4 2 4 7 2 20 4.0
Y2K Vendor 4 6 2 3 3 11 1 1 31 5.2
Government 1 6 7 4 9 4 3 3 4 1 42 5.0
Corporate 1 3 8 11 3 12 3 7 1 2 51 4.3
Consulting 1 1 3 8 8 14 6 10 2 2 55 5.0
TOTAL 2 7 27 42 22 50 20 35 8 13 3 229 4.8
Percent of response 1% 3% 12% 18% 10% 22% 9% 15% 3% 6% 1%
Cumulative % (up) 100% 99% 96% 84% 66% 56% 34% 26% 10% 7% 1%

For example, Table 2 shows that eleven (11) people identified as belonging to corporations responded with a prediction that the level of impact would be 3; that there were a total of 51 corporate respondents, and that their average vote was 4.3; that 42 people voted for an impact of 3, which represents 18% of the total responses; and that 84% of the total response was for level 3 or higher.

Table 3 shows the results of the May, 1998, survey.
Table 3. Results of the May 1998 Survey
IMPACT LEVEL: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 TOTAL AVG
Other 1 2 2 5 8.0
Legal 1 2 1 4 1 9 4.1
Educational 2 1 2 1 1 1 8 5.1
Organization 3 4 2 3 3 4 19 4.6
Military 4 2 2 8 5 6 27 5.0
Y2K Vendor 3 6 4 4 6 5 4 1 2 35 4.5
Government 1 5 7 2 8 3 3 6 2 37 5.0
Corporate 1 8 12 8 18 3 3 2 1 56 4.3
Consulting 1 2 6 12 9 21 12 15 4 5 87 5.1
TOTAL 1 8 32 45 29 70 34 36 16 12 0 283 4.8
Percent of response 0% 3% 11% 16% 10% 25% 12% 13% 6% 4% 0%
Cumulative % (up) 100% 100% 97% 86% 70% 59% 35% 23% 10% 4% 0%

The results do not show any dramatic shifts, though there is a tendency to move towards impact levels 3 through 7; the May survey has no votes for level 10, though the March had three such votes, and it has only one vote at level 0 (March had two).


The most obvious conclusion from both surveys is that the overwhelming majority of the respondents believe that the United States will experience a significant economic impact from the Year 2000 issue. Correlating the definitions in Table 1 with the results in Tables 2 and 3, we find the following:

A graphical representation of the May 1998 survey results can been seen in Figure 1 (below).

Figure 1. Year 2000 Impact Survey Results

The overall shape of the graph shows a spike at impact level 5, with smaller peaks at levels 3 and 7.

Figure 2 shows the results broken down by category of respondent. This projection has been done to help show the distribution of votes for each category vs. the overall distribution of votes.

Figure 2. Year 2000 Impact Survey Results

Due to the smaller sample size for each category, we must be careful in putting too much weight on a specific distribution of results. That said, we can make a few interesting observations:


Those observations having been detailed, a caveat is now in order. Polls and surveys do not establish facts, predict the future, or fix probabilities. They merely report how the surveyed group of people happened to respond to the question(s) put to them. As such, the results above are not actual probabilities of the associated consequences. They are just the collective guesses of a particular group of people at two particular points in time.

What makes these results of interest, however, is that these people for the most part work on or deal with the Year 2000 issue day in and day out in a wide range of organizations, settings, and levels. Collectively, the respondents probably know as much or more about the realities of the Year 2000 situation than any other group of people one could assemble. In that light, these results-and the supporting comments volunteered by some of those surveyed, found later on in this appendix-reflect as informed and broad-based an opinion on the subject as one is likely to get at this point in time. In that light, it is clear that the United States faces potentially significant economic and social consequences from the Year 2000 problem.

It is our intent to conduct follow-up surveys of the WDCY2K Group in the future, both to track changes in opinion as experience increase and to capture the impact that this initial survey might have had upon the membership. Results will be posted on the group's web site.


Below is the complete text of the e-mail sent out to the WDCY2K notification list on March 4, 1998. Note that though the text estimates that there are some 400-500 addresses on the notification list, an actual count made in early found almost 1000 addresses on the list—which means that there were probably well over 700 addresses at the time of the survey.

From: Bruce Webster
Date: Wed, 4 Mar 98 12:59:44 -0500
To: WDCY2K@fanniemae.com
Subject: WDCY2K SURVEY: Estimation of Year 2000 consequences

To the WDCY2K Group:

For some time, I've wanted to repeat formally a survey that I did informally back in the October meeting, a poll to see what you think the impact of the Y2K issue is likely to be here in the United States. In light of Sen. Bennett's visit and some of our subsequent planned meetings, I'd like to get as complete a feedback from all of you as I can, so please take a minute to respond to this message.

Recognizing that this is a multi-dimensional and global issue, I'm nevertheless going to limit it to the United States and squeeze it down to a 0..10 scale, this time with the definition of each level spelled out a bit more and escalating a bit more quickly. I'm adapting these consequences from the table of Year 2000 consequences given in Capers Jones's white paper, "How Serious is the Year 2000 Software Problem?" (Nov 29, 1997; contact www.spr.com for more details). I've set up the scale to produce what I think will be a normal (bell curve) distribution, so it'll be interesting to see the actual results.

NOTE: I _know_ these levels are arbitrary and that you may foresee a different mix of events, but do your best to pick what you think is the best representation of what you think the impact will be. Recognize that each level assumes the relevant consequences of all lower levels. Based on response and interest, we may do a later survey that lets you choose level of impact for each of a series of areas (political, economic, infrastructure, etc.) and that addresses global issues.

What I ask from each of you is just two pieces of information: a categorization of your background from the list provided (the survey will be anonymous; I will delete each e-mail response after logging the information) and the level from 0 to 10 representing your best guess as to the overall impact. You may add optional comments to expand or clarify, but keep them clear and concise, please.

INSTRUCTIONS: reply to this message, but please delete all extraneous text that's copied in (everything up to the line below); likewise, delete all the categories and consequences except the relevant one for each. Add any comments or clarifications. Send it back.

When this is done, I will compile and distribute the results. We have between 400 and 500 people on our WDCY2K notification list, the vast majority of whom deal with this problem daily, so I think the results of this survey carry some weight. Thanks! ..bruce..

Bruce F. Webster, CTO, Object Systems Group
Member, Fannie Mae Year 2000 Team
Chair, Washington DC Year 2000 Group
email: bruce_webster@fanniemae.com
voice: 202.752.3979
pager: 800.516.3358
web: http://www.bfwa.com/bwebster/y2k

====================== DELETE UP TO THIS LINE =============================
CATEGORY (pick one; delete the rest):
Corporate/Business (non-Y2K)
Organization (e.g., a .org domain)
Y2K Product/Tool/Services Vendor
Consultant/Analyst/Consulting Firm

IMPACT IN UNITED STATES (pick one; delete the rest; see notes below):
0 No real impact
1 Local impact for some enterprises
2 Significant impact for many enterprises
3 Significant market adjustment (20%+ drop); some bankruptcies
4 Economic slowdown; rise in unemployment; isolated social incidents
5 Mild recession; isolated supply/infrastructure problems; runs on banks
6 Strong recession; local social disruptions; many bankruptcies
7 Political crises; regional supply/infrastructure problems, disruptions
8 Depression; infrastructure crippled; markets collapse; local martial law
9 Supply/infrastructure collapse; widespread disruptions, martial law
10 Collapse of US government; possible famine

COMMENTS (be concise and clear):

====================== END OF SURVEY =============================
-- "supply/infrastructure problems" have to do with food shortages, fuel/heating oil shortages, disruptions in public utilities (power, gas, telecom), disruptions in transportation (airlines, trucking), and so on

-- "social incidents" and "disruptions" have to do with demonstrations, work stoppages, strikes, organized vandalism, looting, and riots

A week later, a second e-mail was sent out, making a "last call" for survey results and asking specifically for responses from those were not inclined to do so. The message indicated the number of responses to date by category, but gave no indication as to what the nature of the responses had been. While we did not keep specific track of the responses before and after this second request, we observed that the subsequent responses were more "conservative", that is, they tended towards the low end of the impact scale. A total of 148 responses had been received before the second call; another 85 were received afterwards. A few of the responses didn’t give usable answers and so were not counted in the table above, resulting in a total of 229 tallied responses.

A similar mailing was done for the May 1998 survey. It made reference to the earlier survey and asked the respondents to take the time to review the results, available on the WDCY2K web site and e-mailed to the membership list in late April.


In both surveys, the respondents were given the option of including anonymous comments to explain their answer or otherwise make observations on the Year 2000 issue. These comments are given below, sorted according to the estimated level of impact (0..10) and the survey in which the comments were made. Some reformatting has been done for purposes of minimizing document length, and spelling has been corrected.


March 1998 Survey

Consultant/0: This issue has become the focus for free-floating anxieties relating to software (and perhaps to the millennium). However I am glad you are taking the survey and look forward to your results.

Business/0: Our business acts in a tenant/landlord relationship in most of the airports both nationally and internationally. We do not present a threat economically, except to our employees, we have 197 sites and over 22,000 employees. We have taken the necessary steps in preventing business disruption, but find ourselves very dependent on the airlines, FAA, airport authorities, utility companies etc. Our business has a marginal profit margin to begin with, and we seem to be completely dependent on the government agencies (airport authorities, FAA etc.) that are not Y2k compliant and will not be until after the year 2000. The government negligence could cause a rippling effect to our company's profit margin, and not to mention, unemployment factor. If the airport authorities have not yet address the seriousness of the year 2000, and airports close due to safety failures, it impacts our business directly. We are "sitting ducks" at the bottom of the priority and mission critical list for many airport authorities, not to mention dependencies on suppliers of produce, FAA etc.. Would our company be in a position to sue the government agencies for Y2K negligence? Would this also apply toward the airline industry and the FAA?

May 1998 Survey

Consultant/0: This issue has become the focus for free-floating anxieties relating to software (and perhaps to the millennium). There are still VERY few facts chasing MUCH speculation.


March 1998 Survey

[No comments]

May 1998 Survey

Corporate/1: If the public and government official are continued to be made aware of the problem the issues will be mitigated and defective systems taken out of the national economy.

Vendor/1: I think that your 10 levels do not provide enough options at the low end, where there is not signficant damage/impact. I would recommend offering some lower levels states of dispair (0.5: isolated nuisances, no regional/global impacts; 1.3: isolated problems, some portion of contingency/disaster recovery plans activated; 1.7: local/regional govts impacted, businesses experience multi-site impacts; 1.9: enterprises continue to function but major portions of contingency/disaster recovery plans activated; etc). Beyond Level 2 sounds like major economic disasters and/or social unrest in various flavors. I would reduce the many levels that address various disasterous combinations.

Vendor/1: Y2K is one of many possible impacts due to the increasing dependence on information technology and the assumption that technology is so cheap and reliable that contingency planning and management is not necessary. Two recent examples demonstrate the vulnerability of our information technology web; the ATM outage delaying credit card transaction response for major corporations and the satellite drift cutting off pager communication nationwide. However, Y2K can be a catalyst for maturing information technology support, moving from an undisciplined art form to a responsible citizen, caring more about the people impact than the demand for righteous self expression. The industry can take advantage of the current popular and funding support to address serious infrastructure weaknesses.


March 1998 Survey

Government/2: I do not speak for my organization, simply for myself based on my observations. The strong, prepared enterprises will do well and profit from the mistakes of others. Some businesses will fail, but businesses fail every day for various reasons. Some government organizations will be unprepared, but critical functions will go on. We will not be cowering in the dark and cold. We may find some unexpected inconveniences, but nothing that our social structure can't cope with. Business as usual in that there will be lots of scrambling to take credit for success and assign blame for problems.

Government/2: I believe that we will experience significant impact on all information technology related aspects come year 2000. Systems that were developed 5 years ago might be OK. Systems that were developed 10, 20 years ago are probably undergo extensive re-engineering works to be compliant.

Corporate/2: Impact will be substitution of automated processes by manual processes which will cause a slowdown in some industries.

Vendor/2: If the U.S.A. is one of the leading countries in meeting the Year 2000, yet we must operate in a global economy, what role can/should the government of the U.S. play to mitigate the impacts as well as drive the other countries to take more action to reach compliance in time?

Military/2: Recently retired from DoD. My opinion may not be consistent with present consulting company position. Does not imply doing nothing. Y2K characteristic of future information technological environment adjustments and management challenges. The biggest threat is intemperate, capricious litigation.

Corporate/2: I believe that inside the US, there will be enough financial motivation/forces to ensure that widespread, major disasters do not occur. I believe there will be isolated problems, ranging from inconveniences to near-disasters. I do not believe that any lives will be lost but I do believe that some companies will experience greater negative impacts than others, due to their own doings and/or the doings of those with whom they deal/interface. I also believe that some 'systems' will experience undesirable behavior, in some cases to the detriment of the owner of those 'systems'.

Government/2: I think it's pretty difficult to predict the impact accurately. This is a unique problem, past experience doesn’t help much. While I think if the Y2k problem "surprised" the US economy we'd have very serious problems, in fact, this is a clearly foreseeable problem. I'd assume that most organizations have strong incentives to "fix the problem" and that most will. As always, there will be some organizations that fail and that may lead to bankruptcies, but they occur all the time so the impact of a few more is hard to predict. I'd expect a reduction in economic growth and a probable recession between now and 2001 due to all the resources that will be spent on Y2k and draw away from other productive IS work. Still, I think serious social problems are unlikely. Recessions are common (although) less so than in the past but don't lead to social disintegration. Long term Depressions sometimes do.

NOTE: I think your list of choices is confusing. While I do think a recession is likely, I don't feel like that must to be linked with a 20% market reduction. You should make them separate choices! Similarly, I do see a moderate recession but not "runs on banks" or "local social disruptions." Again, I see those as separate choices. I'd choose a "recession" but not the other outcomes you assume they will predict. The last run on banks came during a VERY severe Depression.

Consultant/2: Modified 2. I'd give it a 4. I expect some infrastructure problems - power and telecomm distribution grid, transportation - air and rail in particular. Some security and emergency services problems - 911, police, fire, hospital embedded systems, etc. I consider embedded systems the greatest risk in both the public and private sectors. A lot has to do with what is done to "set the mood". It also depends on what else is happening in the world - i.e. are we at war with Iraq etc. It would be easy to exacerbate the problem. I expect the problems to be more significant outside the US because they are not addressing it yet.

Organization/2: Predictions of impending doom are made from the present perspective and using linear projections of current trends, assuming constant progress and a constant level of remediation. In real life, everything goes in cycles, and the predicted catastrophic course turns out to be a tangent emerging from the true curve of happenings. Also in real life, when things get bad enough, they get more attention, common sense kicks in, and something is done about the matter. When the public's "threshold of pain" is exceeded, priorities change. We'll have disruptions, but life will go on. Most of the hype comes from those who are making a living from disseminating it.

May 1998 Survey

Consultant/2: Affects small to medium sized businesses. Will be a one - two month period of adjustment with many inconveniences and workarounds until things straighten out.

Consultant/2: I believe there will be numerous scattered outages and service interruptions. There will be severe problems in some hospitals, parts of the various grids - power, telephone, various pipelines, traffic management, etc - embedded systems are most of the problem.. Hackers and weather have the potential to make things worse. Transition from the current administration to whatever follows presents the problem of discontinuities in federal agency management. Outside the US the potential for chaos is much higher - problems caused by Y2K, Euro, winter, political change and instability, Asian and Russian economics,...

Consultant/2: Public Inattention reflects our credibility as a profession. The chickens have come home to roost. The largest casualty will be the computer.

Consultant/2: Had not attention been drawn to this matter, I think the results would have been much more severe. However, in the U.S., the awareness among those that need to know is quite high and even the owners of systems not renovated/replaced will be warned in advance of the possible problems and thus will be able to respond more effectively. I do think that there will be significant litigation facing those that knew in advance and did nothing to respond effectively. I don't think that there will be widespread interruptions in utilities and public services. Fortunately, the first work day is two days after the change, so many of the unsuspected problems and embedded chip problems will have surfaced and work-arounds will be in progress.

This fairly optimistic view is not to say that Y2K efforts are meaningless - on the contrary, it is only because of the efforts of groups such as yours to publicize the problem and discuss solutions that lead me to believe that the transition will not be as painful as many have predicted.

Corporate/2: Computer software/hardware vendors have to put forth considerable time and effort to show that their programs are Y2K-compliant. I predict that there will be Y2K problems in computer software/hardware, or in the input/output data formats, which will be identified only when it is the year 2000.

Corporate/2: The main worry over the past two years has been that people/business/government simply didn't know what the Y2k issue was and what was at stake. That has changed drastically over the last six months. Now, the key issue becomes timeliness. Did the awareness come too late for your particular organization? How much of a sense of urgency exists? Can the inevitable failures be limited to non-critical systems?

Corporate/2: Though it appears that more interest is being taken in the Year 2000 problem, the urgency for companies still does not seem to be there. Testing and Contingency planning are two areas that need to be addressed between now and post Year 2000.

Government/2: Most institutions will address the most serious problems in a timely fashion. There will be a significant number of delays and inconveniences.

Military/2: I think that in 2000 enterprises will delete many systems that do not work and are not really needed. But I expect some major impacts for unanticipated ramifications for some systems, such as air traffic control stopping for a few days.

Military/2: If asked again in two hours, my answer might be totally different, and I don't think I am alone in this vacillation...the ONLY predictable occurrence is the date.

Organization/2: The possibility that the IRS may not be able to collect taxes is such sensational news that Y2K awareness will now spread far and wide. Those whose business is critically dependent on computers will draw the appropriate conclusions. Others will make do. As always, money will solve what seems unsolvable when no awareness is the obstacle.

Organization/2: Predictions of impending doom are always made from the present perspective and using linear projections of current trends, assuming constant progress and a constant level of remediation. In real life, everything goes in cycles, and the predicted catastrophic course turns out to be a tangent emerging from the true curve of happenings. Also in real life, when things get bad enough, they get more attention, common sense kicks in, and something is done about the matter. When the public's "threshold of pain" is exceeded, priorities change. We'll have disruptions, but life will go on. Most of the hype comes from those who make a living from disseminating it.

Vendor/2: Many organizations are going to wait and see what happens. Several industries are in a full charge in attempting to identify the problems. I feel they will be too late to avoid any failures.

Vendor/2: In spite of the Y2K shouting, there are large pockets of individuals, businesses, and government agencies that are technologically deaf. They cannot fathom their problem large or small, hence little or inadequate actions. Example, the Nations Airports (non FAA systems) upon which airlines and passengers rely for travel and commerce.

Consultant/3: I'm making my pick without a lot of firsthand knowledge. I've found it almost impossible to seperate the facts from the speculation and I don't believe that anyone (short of those involved with the power grids) know what is going to happen. I'm preparing for a 7 or 8, but hoping that the rise in awareness will mean a 3 or a 4. I will add one note though, I believe that the Y2K excercise will force many organizations to replace many older outdated systems, leading to increased productivity in the long run. I also think that in 1999, those organizations that are Y2K ready are going to have one heck of a marketing advantage. :-)


March 1998 Survey

Legal/3: Although the problem will be rather severe at the outset, it will likely be resolved for most of the critical resources and functions rather quickly. However, it is likely that some companies will not recover from their failure to adequately plan for this contingency.

Consultant/3: Remember the Titanic!

Consultant/3: I believe there will be some adjustment to the marketplace, but that adjustment may be somewhere between 10 & 15 percent.

Military/3: I think there may be some runs on banks due to the fear of money "disappearing" on 1 Jan 2000. I think this can be avoided with some public education or by banks printing statements on 31 Dec for concerned customers, etc. If the current frantic media coverage continues, large numbers of banking customers are going to want to withdraw their funds prior to Dec. 31 to avoid losing their savings. I hear comments of this nature regularly.

Corporate/3: The outcome might be a bit like the great flood- it will wash away a lot of our dependencies upon systems that we don't fully understand and allow us to start afresh.

Educational/3: I think there will be many bankruptcies and unemployment, but few if any social incidents.

Corporate/3: There is a reasonable possibility of the others 2 or 3 on either side of my answer. The big question, I think, is whether the utilities (electricity, water, telephone) and food distribution systems will work, and we should know that within 6 months according to last month's speakers.

Consultant/3: I think people are starting to get the major issues tackled enough that the world will keep turning.

Consulting/3: Would call this a 3+ rating - difficult to discern between the two rankings-Believe that most companies are underestimating the impact. Also believe that the panic mongers are exacerbating the problem.

Consultant/3: The "impact" categories are too drastic. I think the scale should include only the items you have up to the seventh one, which is probably the "doomsday" scenario. Scenarios 8, 9 and 10 will not occur - the establishment cannot afford to let it occur.

Corporate/3: I see a drop in the market coming as soon as this spring due to the falling value of unprepared companies. I see lots of complete outsourcing of DP by large companies. I see lots of mergers and consolidations among business competitors. By 2001 I see a strong increase in efficiency and an upturn due to 1) economies of scale gained by larger merged companies and 2) the increased use of packaged software which will replace expensive to maintain custom software. But, I see major backlogs in government services until about 2002. I see no increased unemployment at all.

Corporate/3: Businesses which don't effectively address the Y2K problem with the products they sell will be subject to lawsuits, loss of sales. and loss of jobs. I don't believe individual, group and corporate investors are tuned into the risks that their investments have due Y2K problems.

Corporate/3: The impact of Y2K may be even stronger in the rest of the world, particularly Europe and the more advanced developing countries of the world. This in turn may have a negative effect on world trade and world financial markets.

Corporate/3: I believe that this issue will have a significant impact, but that it will be short-lived. Most of the impact will be felt and corrected in the first month, but firms that are poorly prepared are at risk for going out of business. This will also cause an adjustment to the stock market.

Corporate/3: Prediction: The last month of 1999 will represent the most volatile period of financial turmoil the world has ever seen as people scramble to ensure their assets are safe by selling or withdrawing them from institutions. The first week of 2000 will represent the most dynamic market the world has ever seen as those assets flood back into the institutions able to withstand that massive short term cash flow problem. Although some suffering will occur in selected areas, history will record it as an amusing moment, unfortunately discounting the yeoman efforts of the countless professionals world wide who toiled under adverse and stressful conditions to save the world as we have come to know it. In 2000, I suspect many of the unknowledgeable will speculate whether there really was a problem anyway.

Organization/3: Lots of workarounds; people will have to be resilient.

Consultant/3: The significant business slowdown will be problems in exchanging electronic data, even among compliant systems. These problems will be solved on a case-by-case basis, as they fail. It should take about a year to correct these problems. As a Y2K professional, I am personally staying away, as best as I can, from any devices with embedded chips from December 28, 1999 to January 2, 2000.

Government/3: Foresee significant failures/bankruptcies in small business, especially banks, that have failed to timely implement Y2K remediation strategies. Given our global economy, have major concerns with overseas financial markets that do not seem to have aggressive strategies (especially the diverse communications networks that traverse the globe) for dealing with the Y2K matter. Should be an item of concern that perhaps should be raised at the United Nations.

I also feel that the real danger of Y2K is the strong probability that members of the executive branch will use it as an excuse to ignore the various restrictions placed on them by numerous legal documents. The internet is rife with rumors that the executive branch has already implemented regulations declaring that anyone who prepares for disaster is a "hoarder" and by definition a criminal. True or not, this is exactly the kind of thing we don't need. People should not be punished for taking care of themselves without recourse to a government nanny.

Government/3: There will be a significant impact on the US economy - people are still in 'denial' mode with respect to this problem and its effects. So there will be chunks of the public and private sector which will cease to function in a normal manner.

Other/3: Local disruptions due to power outages and some telecom outages, but not a massive blackout. Some imports could be disrupted that depend upon shipping.

Vendor/3: Not much real data yet on actual tests of problem programs and applications. Seems like a lot of speculation.

Military/3: Am not sure how to respond as far as format is concerned, but here is my response: I feel the impact will be 3 and 7, but not necessarily everything in between. The recovery can be very quick or very long depending on the emotional state of the country. Although these are extreme examples, this is due to the following reasons:

There is a significant amount of hysteria being generated by various speakers, the media and other groups regarding the impacts of Y2K. It makes for sellable newsprint. I recently received a call by an individual who could not sleep at 2AM because of another friend explained there would be a total collapse on a worldwide basis of all electricity, computers, business and banking systems. This individual wanted to know if they should take all their savings and move out to the country. Whether it is real or perceived, this will influence what the public will do before Y2K.

There can be potential for significant political impact if these problems become excessive. There is a very high potential for vulnerability to terrorist/information warfare impacts if they timed problems in conjunction with the Y2K changeover. The terrorists could be long gone before the source of the problem was discovered. Some concerns have been raised regarding missile systems or nuclear systems accidentally firing based on an internal clock going to 000000. Assumption is these issues have been evaluated and this will not have an impact.

May 1998 Survey

Consultant/3: Here it is. Hope I'm wrong!

Consultant/3: There will be a major breakdown of the "food chain."

Consultant/3: It is encouraging to see serious attention on the part of major segments of government.

Consultant/3: I don't feel that famine or extreme unemployment will set it. I believe the United States is taking a good bit of precaution early enough to make a significant difference. The organizations that worry me the most are the small businesses because the news/media isn't making this potential problem clear enough to society! More needs to be done to get the word out on the the potential problems (I.e. hospitals, elevators, airlines, nuclear power plants, etc).
Another aspect is the international arena. I am concerned about the problems that could occur from external financial organizations that connect into our NYSE, etc. Reuters and Bloomberg are making good head-way, but they're just a drop in the bucket when you include all the other financial/international systems out there.

Corporate/3: I'm willing to select "2" next time if we see more action by small business and service companies.

Corporate/3: Y2K problem is already impacting productivity at our business as projects that would normally be funded / staffed are put on hold in order to deal with Y2K issue. I believe there will be an impact, but I'm optimistic that it will be minor.

Corporate/3: Initially, employment may increase as companies scuffle to correct latent problems that may surface, and to implement manually intensive workarounds.

Consultant/3: Several small vendors of Y2K related solutions will be unable to meet obligations of product warranty. Majority of corporations, governments, and public businesses will be operational with little or no effect. Overall, immediate panic will strike the stock market but will recover within 45 - 60 days.

Government/3: I see more than a few businesses being totally unprepared for Y2K - both in-house & with their suppliers/trading partners. They may wake up, but much too late to do anything other than wring their hands and bitch about 'no one told me!'
The Federal Government should be in pretty good shape, but I doubt if state governments will be more than 60 % ready. Local governments could easily be under 50% compliant since they have so few resources to throw at the problem. Plus, they are still in denial.
Very few small businesses will be ready for the millenium change. So, the market will be ripe for new businesses to come in and take the business from those who refused to be prepared for the changeover.

Legal/3: Corporate America is worse off than current disclosures suggest. Look for SEC disclosures to get more negative and dire as 2000 approaches. Corporate Earth is worse off than corporate America. As an attorney, I can offer no worthwhile insight into the technical reality or scope of the problem, and for that I defer to technologists and economists. However, I am competent to testify as to the general ability of corporations to handle complex technology projects (poor), and most year 2000 projects are going to be handled no better (and probably worse) than the typical technology project. I think that the most dire consequences from the year 2000 problem are the reactions in anticipation of the problem. My biggest concern for 1999 is how we can control the adverse and nonproductive public reactions stemming from the perceived consequences of year 2000 failures; specifically, stock market problems, bank withdrawals, panic. If a company's business prospects sour because it has failed to address this problem, then that company's stock price should legitimately reflect the change in value. However, a great deal of market value may be lost simply as a result of anticipatory fear (panic), or the fear of anticipatory fear (fear of panic by others). How can we control this situation? Should we control this situation? As difficult as it has been proving the legitimacy of the year 2000 problem, it is going to be even harder to prove that it is under control.

Military/3: I believe that awareness is heightening exponentially as we move closer to AD 2000 and that in the United States, we will see 'yankee ingenuity' and a spirit resembling that which won WWII emerge minimizing the adverse impact of any overlooked y2k glitches. i am personally backing out of any investments in foreign concerns because i envision a graver y2k impact in most of the other countries in the world.

Organization/3: If all organizations pay serious attention and address their issues, I believe the situation can be handled with minor disruptions. However, are all organizations going to be ready? No.

Vendor/3: The drop in the market will be gradual beginning late next spring as more and more businesses adjust to a new fiscal year.

Vendor/3: Some large companies still seem to be ignoring the problem. Others seem unable to mount an effective renovation program: lots of velocity with no direction (Brownian Movement). What I suspect is that some companies will avert disaster by good luck, while others will have a major MIS or business application failure because of bad luck (whether or not either group performed Y2K remediation). What is likely to happen in LOTS of industries is that small and/or weak companies will be consolidated (merged, bought), as is presaged in the defense, telecommunications, banking, and insurance sectors. Y2K failures will be used for the reason, although underlying weak or mismanagement is the actual cause.

Vendor/3: Non-compliant businesses with critical automated interfaces (e.g., financial institutions) will be consumed by compliant businesses. Most of the remaining problems will be in data exchange between external organizations. These will be corrected over a five year period, on a case by case basis between the organizations.


March 1998 Survey

Corporate/4: Due to our current global economy (consider the "Asia crisis" going on now), I am especially concerned with the effects of other countries ignoring this problem.

Consultant/4: Y2K doesn't yet seem to be taken as the most important issue facing industry, or even facing data processing. The choice seems to be risking over-reacting, or risking under-reacting. Most votes seem to be for the latter -- otherwise known as denial. Results will be delivered in about 21 months. Stay tuned...

Organization/4: I think that most big companies will have coped; most government agencies are incapable of coping. There will be bankruptcies, primarily in small businesses; there will be major problems in hospitals and universities. Many small businesses will be badly hurt, even the ones that manage to survive. The non-profit community, for the most part, does not seem to be taking the problem seriously enough. Embedded systems (cash registers, elevators, pacemakers, heart-lung machines) will create havoc.

Vendor/4: Panic in the first half of 2000: among the public who depend on Government support (Social Security Benefits, Unemployment Benefits etc.); among the retired veterans/public who have invested their life savings on stocks, bonds and other avenues. High anxiety due to imaginary and in some cases reported ill-consequences in travel, medical treatment and other vital areas. Severe Unemployment in general labor categories due to mild recession, Business closures, and temporary lay-offs. Temporary shortages of fuels, utilities and the like, resulting in sharp price increases. Chaos in the service industry. Weakening of US Dollar against currencies of nations who have vital natural raw-materials, strong service base and high-end skills. Very sharp increase in market price of skilled technical labor - both domestic and immigrant - until some of the major relevant Y2K problems are solved. Shortages of commodities, consumables and essential goods required for day to day living. Pattern of hoarding and price escalations by a series of business houses. To some degree, upsurge in anti-social elements, crime, arson and very difficult law-enforcement situation. And many more....

Military/4: I hope 4 is the worst.

Military/4: In light of the barely perceived ripple-effects of the Canadian/Northeastern US ice storms, and similar disasters in California's mud-slides and Florida's tornadoes, I think there will be impacts that won't generally be perceptible until the economists analyze the situation and tell us about he overall slow-down and shifts in hot and cold markets. I don't foresee many if any social incidents due the diluted aspect of the events.

Consultant/4: I expect major failures starting in the second half of 1999. I expect most major problems to be solved or worked around by second half of 2000. I expect annoying problems until 2002 or so. The widespread, basic error is a programming statement that includes a logic or arithmetic operation between two dates with unexplicit, different centuries.

Government/4: Economic slowdown for y2k firms after 01 Jan 00. Rise in unemployment of COBOL programmers. Isolated social incidents of Yuppies/Baby Boomers whining that their cell phones don't work

Government/4: Comment on impact - a conservative choice

May 1998 Survey

Consultant/4: The "Millenium Bug" will prove to be a wakeup call for politicians. For the first time since the dawn of the nuclear age they were faced with making a long term decision (i.e., fixing the problem in the 80s and 90s) based on a technological assessment. They failed. The electorate will recognize this failure and begin to hold current politicians acountable for the failure of past politicians to address the problem.

Consultant/4: I am in the process of changing banks because my old bank is too much a stick in the mud for changes that help the customer. One criteria that I plan to use is checking if the bank is year 2000 compliant and getting it in writing. It still seems that many organizations are behind in the year 2000 changes or just don't get it. I think that maybe there should be a change from the government to help these changes along (tax break, etc.). I plan on checking very carefully on this when I invest.

Consultant/4: There will be failures and they won't come as a surprise. What may be surprising is the elapsed time until the failures are corrected.

Corporate/4: I really think this subject is too complicated to summarize in a single impact statement from which many conclusions will be drawn.

Corporate/4: I find this business issue fascinating, very hard to predict due to the plethora of opinions on both sides of the spectrum. The prudent plan of attack may well be plan for the worse, but hope for the best! WHERE'S WALDO (Gore)?

Corporate/4: Because we are a global economy, the failure of other areas of the world to recognize and deal with the Year 2000 problem will be enough to cause economic problems in the US. In addition, social anxiety about the Millenium could transform even the most minor computer problems and snafus into social incidents.

Government/4: There are still too many who feel that the year 2000 problem affects only governments, the banking industry, and large business. For these small businesses, small offices and home offices, the year 2000 will present a very rude awakening.

Military/4: I would respond with a 4. This is one level higher than the last item submitted. I mentioned in the previous survey that the hype created by the media may cause impacts to banks and other industries. During recent discussions with people not associated with Y2K, they mentioned they will take all their money out of the bank. If this attitude is much greater than expected, then banks will be impacted. Unfortunately this is mostly caused by the media playing up the millenium bug.

Organization/4: Slow pace of Awareness/Assessment due to denial and blissful ignorance, combined with reluctance to act cooperatively due to legal concerns has caused me to go up one notch in my impact selection.

Vendor/4: There will be significant disruptions in all areas, most important will be communications and commerce. I don't believe that there will be mass social unrest, but there could be localized incidents if people cannot have acccess to thier money.

Vendor/4: The economical slowdown will be more psychological than a real concern. There are still a lot of people that do not understand what Y2K really means. I think they will visualize the worst things can get and will believe they will happen. Today most business travelers state up front that they will not travel the first few days of 2000. The public utilities and transportation lines will cause the most disruptions. These will be with the interfaces and the non-IT systems not the company internal functions.

Vendor/4: Like others from your first survey, I personally do not agree that all of the things in the number 4 option will occur. However, out of the choices I believe it contains the most realistic scenario.


March 1998 Survey

Consultant/5: When there is thoughtful preparations for 10 and all events listed below then reactions to the event will be dampened as people will know that the plans have been made and widespread panic will not occur.

Government/5: Major political impact on all incumbents and citizen opinion of effectiveness of Federal and State governments -- a Libertarians dream come true.

Consult/5: Could easily be a 6 or 7 instead, depending on market psychology more than "reality".

Consult/5: This is a tough call. I'm somewhere between 5 and 8; went with the lower in an attempt to be conservative and not categorize myself as a 'doomsayer'. Also gives me more wiggle room for later. Certainly, there will be some level of disruption, and we just won't know until weeks (or even months) after 'the day' hits.

Consultant/5: I believe Euro conversion will cause major financial problems to Europe & U.S. Y2K will cripple them.

Corporate/5: The government and regulators have an obligation to strongly address the issues in public and quasi public entities. For example: 1) we know today that utilities have an inherent problem in their distribution systems, but no one is doing anything to fix the problem; 2) We know that government agencies are behind in their Y2K projects, additional resource should be applied.

Military/5: I believe that the military will experience isolated problems depending on its defense posture at the time (engaged or not-engaged). If, the military is engaged in action, the impacts could be severe and numerous. Lives could be jeopardized by Y2K issues. The military is doing well in looking at unit and system level items, however the weakness is in its testing of the whole enterprise. Supplier\vendor issues will place a significant burden on its ability to supply and sustain itself. Contingency planning is weak due to the nature of the imposed deadline Dec 1998 placed upon themselves. There is much activity toward putting fixes in place and disregarding contingency planning. However, it is very likely that this will be the focus in 1999.

The level of commitment in the leadership is high and the organization is clear on the mission. The area of greatest focus has been in the weapons system arena. The embedded chips in ammunition, tanks, aircraft, ships, are numerous and there are additional outside influences that impacting them. If they are not fully tested (at unit, system and enterprise levels), a critical device may be impacted and lead to a safety concern or a failed mission.

Consultant/5: Like any catastrophe, those that are prepared will get through with minimal damage, those that are unprepared will suffer greatly. We (USA) are a resilient people; and as there are incidents of catastrophes, as earthquakes, floods, widespread power outages, etc. we as a nation cope very well I believe. This situation, due to the widespread nature and the level of global integration of economies, will bring about a level of cooperation amongst partners and competitors alike that is unprecedented. At least, this is what I hope.

Consultant/5: An urgent need for Y2K labor & materials will be discovered by remiss organizations -- nearly all at the same time, when skilled resources are already committed/exhausted.

Military/5: I believe there will be many supply/infrastructure problems.

Government/5: The recession will be industry specific; some industries will actually benefit from Year 2000. No run on banks. There will be a major backlash against the programming industry which ignored and then profited from the problem. Fortunately, it won't effect their paychecks.

Educational/5: I think there will also be a number of major bankruptcies.

Corporate/5: The media attention being given to the impending Year 2000 impact on daily life will create a self-fulfilling prophecy. This includes runs on financial institutions as citizens follow the advice of the experts to have cash on hand for several months survival. During the months to come there will be an increasing burden placed on all institutions to deal with requests for information about how the organizations are preparing to stay in business for the year 2000. This is being promoted by more than one television program on a regular basis, for example, The 700 Club. We must do all we can to proactively educate the people and continue to work on the fixes and the contingency plans to prevent REAL catastrophes that might be possible.

Military/5: I expect most (many) of the embedded systems to be found and corrected (or at least work-arounds in place) but some will be missed and some will be corrected wrong. The closer the date comes, the more concerned management will be that most will err on the side of caution for the first days. They will realize, some too late, that failure to adequately address the problem in one part of a larger system can have serious repercussions elsewhere. I think that failure at the interface (point of interconnectivity between systems) will be most significant.

Military/5: I'm not sure if I am hoping it is no worse, or simply believe it will be no worse. I believe the government will take strong steps to assure the basic services are available, or at least unavailable for a short period of time. I think there will be pockets in most cities that do not have basic services for an extended time. I believe that there are still people who don't think this is a problem. I don't necessarily believe that doing patches on old programs (windows, bridges, etc.) is a good way to fix the problem. I think we may be increasing our problems in which case the impact "status" of 5 would rise quickly to 7 or 8. Some articles I have seen recently are saying people are not allowing enough time for testing. This is a concern.

Government/5: Six months ago, I would have chosen about an 8, but I am very impressed with the level of awareness now and the efforts being made across many industries, particularly in the large corporations. The key is to accelerate the rate of repair across all size companies. I still remember the time when the country ran itself without automation. I hope that the people running the organizations today can recall what it was like and what they may have to go back to in the event of a shutdown of their systems. That alone should jolt the remaining naysayers to action.

Government/5: I would have gone higher but I expect more impact on economy than on society

Corporate/5: I believe that there will be an supply/infrastructure problem due to the fact that we cannot fully integration test our products through our third parties prior to 1/1/2000. I do not think that we are alone in this problem and thus, it will be a wide spread clean up effort. If we keep finger pointing to a minimum then we can work together and get things cleaned up quicker for the good of the whole.

Consultant/5: I believe there is a significant lack of awareness of the scope of the Y2K problem in small and mid size businesses that are not located in major markets. As an example, I recently spoke to the IS staff of a mid sized manufacturing company in Roanoke, Va. They had decided, without doing a thorough assessment, they had no Y2K problem and therefore had no remediation plans. They had overlooked some of the most basic things such as the PC BIOS issue, and COTS compliance. They had done some testing by changing system clocks, but had done no data aging or regression testing. They had no idea if their suppliers were going to be able to continue to fill their orders and had no contingency plan. Awareness is slowly spreading but for some businesses it will be too little too late.

Corporate/5: Based on personal forecast as well as recent Business Week cover story on the impact of Year 2000 on the nation's economy.

May 1998 Survey

Corporate/5: Influx of capital from other parts of the world may offset the recession somewhat but may cause other problems in the short term.

Corporate/5: I think that there will be problems and interruptions in services that may prevent people from being able to work. I will have frozen, canned & dried food, a generator and firewood. If my office is not open (phones don't work) I will stay home. And yes, we have a well.

Corporate/5: If there's a problem with financial institutions - whether internal systems or external due to lack of confidence (i.e.: run on the bank) there will be a ripple effect.

Consultant/5: Could be worse than 5.

Consultant/5: Just my personal opinion .... the more I learn about how poorly prepared for Y2K that the world infrastructure is, the more I am concerned about the impacts that it will have globally. There is a very real possibility of runs on banks. I've already heard rumor that a well-known financial company is advising its employees to have 3 months salary CASH on hand at the turn of the millennium. Power companies are assessing their readiness and are being found lacking. All in all, very scary prospects. Enjoy the current economic boom while it lasts.

Consultant/5: My biggest concerns are the embedded chip problems in our nation's (and the world's) infrastructures. These apparently are being the last to be addressed, often because the IT Department "has the responsibility for fixing our problem", but usually has no control over manufacturing / plant / building infrastructure. Thus I believe that a significant number of these "supply/infrastructure problems" (as you described - food shortages, fuel/heating oil shortages, disruptions in public utilities (power, gas, water, telecom), disruptions in transportation (airlines, trucking), etc,) will occur. In many cases, these will take longer than just a few hours or days to fix.

Consultant/5: I've been trying to get my broker and his firm to focus on Y2K issues as an investment issue. I've finally gotten past his assurances that his firm will be fine, and his firm's investment research reports are starting to show Y2K assessment. Now I'm going to drill in and see what they're basing their happy talk comments on. And I'll be interested in what companies start to say in quarterly/annual reports, though that too may be happy talk, approved by lawyers, meaningless.

Consultant/5: The Federal Government is not going to get this done in time; although this will result in some good, i.e. a flat income tax, most will be bad. We rely more than we think on Washington and even a small fallout in Federal outgoing payments will have a large ripple effect on the rest of the country.

Consultant/5: Anticipate supply/infrastructure problems due to lack of adequate pre-planning and contingency planning preparedness. Longer term problems will involve hackers manipulating or corrupting sensitive data and implanting time-bomb viruses during especially vulnerable time for industry when getting the job done fast means a lowering of quality control and security standards. Expect some fatalities due to cold, inadequaste food, unclean water. Runs on canned foods. Stock market run due to late public awareness, exacerbating financial uncertainties. Substantial small business failures with ripple effects on business chains. Demand for qualified programmers, for chips that are Y2K compliant, and for information re how to fix embedded chip problems will outstrip supply, creating bottlenecks and escalating costs. Companies with adequate capital reserves will be able to hold on, others fail. Substantial redistribution of capital in market toward larger companies. Shortage of paper for making hard copies of critical information. Substantial lawsuits against CEOs and calls for holding accountable gov't officials who had responsibility for addressing these issues and who chose not to.

Consultant/5: I picked my best case scenario; there's a real possibility it could be much worse.

Consultant/5: Having been in the trenches repairing code for the past 8 months, I've seen how easy it is to miss a date that doesn't look like a date (i.e. two-digit fiscal year embedded in the accession number for archival of government records and tested as valid only if greater than 60). There are bound to be oversights which would be more catastrophic than old government records.

Consultant/5: As with the last survey, this continues to be my 'best case' scenario. The human (and corporate) capacity for denial of the breadth of the issue continues to amaze me. I'm convinced that there will have to be a major Y2k related failure of some sort before there is a collective acknowledgement of Y2k impact at government, industry, and personal levels.

Consultant/5: It appears that there are a number of CEOs\CFOs\CIOs that are still in denial about the problem and their firms will not be able to respond in time to implement effective solutions in time. Subsequently, these businesses will most likely be out of business very early in 2000. What then will be the ability of surviving companies to meet the increased demand while coping with the Y2K problems that will still have slipped through the cracks of even the best prepared ? It' s the age old problem (and opportunity) of supply verses demand.
Another critical issue that I see as having the potential to be a huge problem is the dependence that a lot of large firms have as a result of having multitudes of business partners. A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. This still seems to be an area that only little attention is paid. The assumption is that the business partner (phone company, electric company, banks, service providers, etc.) will meet Y2K compliance because they have so much to loose. To further complicate matters, this assumption is often made without any contingency planning. In some cases, contingency planning is not an option. One only needs to look at all the mergers within the financial institutions. How many of these are being made because they recognizing the fact that they cannot achieve Y2K compliance? Partnering with all business service providers is critical - complacency spells disaster.
Acceptance of the problem, allocating resources, mobilizing the workforce, and partnering together is of paramount importance and requires the immediate attention of all corporate management. My hope is that it is not too late.

Consultant/5: Even though actual Y2K problems may be marginal and not to threatening, I believe many individuals will react in a panic emotional state that will cause poor decision making. As a result, the Y2K problems will become more severe. My hope is that we all plan our contingencies now when we are of sound mind, before panic or anxiety sets in. For those of us who have faith in a personal God, we can rest in knowing that He will take care of us!

Educational/5: I do not believe public schools have adequately addressed this issue. Problems with student records, payroll, benefits, leave records, staff records, will be problem areas. School boards need to get more involved and demand that school administration have a plan to identify and correct problem areas.

Educational/5: Recently, I received the following assurance from my own organization's internal MIS staff:
"Thank you for your interest in the Y2K preparedness of [our] business, administrative and management systems. We are fortunate that ALL of the systems supporting such functions have been replaced within the last 5 years. As a consequence, we don't have the scale of challenge that many organizations have. However, we still have some major systems, those based on COTS software that need to be upgraded with new compliant versions (and we have had to wait until those became available from the vendors) . Those upgrades are in process. When this is completed, we will still have a substantial amount of broad, system wide testing to do. But we expect to be in good shape with our central systems well before the excitement begins."
Among the projects I manage is a small (approx. 2 programmer-year) software development which simulates a piece of communications equipment. When we tested it for Y2K compliance, we discovered that a single C++ library routine was noncompliant. The library routine took a compliant, 4-digit year date supplied by the system and subtracted 1900 to obtain a 2-digit year date. My programmer corrected our software by adding 1900 to the result of the noncompliant routine. While we plan to conduct more extensive Y2K testing prior to delivery of the software to the customer (in about 45 days), I do not anticipate that we will discover any more Y2k problems.
However, we are fortunate in that our particular application is relatively non-sensitive to dates, and that the documented "minor issues" with NT 4.0 compliance apparently will not affect it.
I am aware of at least one major U.S. military organization (a unified command) which claims to have reduced their systems from over one hundred to less than thirty in their process of Y2K remediation (which was largely complete last year). While I once worked for the Air Force general responsible for those MIS systems (during one of his previous assignments), I have no personal knowledge which would verify his claims. However, I do consider him to be credible.
The reports which I have read about the financial sector as a whole, and about the Federal Reserve and Master Card International (STLTM reports) specifically have convinced me there is a medium-to-high probability of this sector being generally remediated by Y2K. I am concerned about the ability of banks and other institutions to deal with Y2K-induced panic and runs on banks, but recent statements by Fed officials are somewhat reassuring in this regard.
Based upon what I have read about the corporate community, it seems likely that at least 10-30 percent of corporations will have significant business disruptions up to and including bankruptcy as a result. Probably all (90-100 percent) of corporations will have at least some disruptions, hopefully minor and of short duration.
Based mostly upon Rick Cowles's reports, I am cautiously optimistic about the power industry. There will almost certainly be some glitches, but it appears at least possible the industry may be able to handle these with little or no disruption to the national grid.
I am more skeptical about the capability of DoD as a whole and the remainder of government agencies to complete their remediation efforts in time. It appears almost certain that some DoD administrative systems will fail or have serious problems come January 2000, and may be inoperational or impaired for substantial periods. While there may be isolated failures of weapons systems, I expect the majority of those weapons to be normally
operational (including our attack warning systems and nuclear control systems). Therefore, I expect U.S. military forces to be mostly combat operational; however, the failures in administrative and logistical systems will likely impair our capability to deploy forces and to sustain them.
Even if the worst projections of Y2K systemic collapses materialize, I believe that U.S. military forces--active components, reserve components, and National Guard--will be able to maintain order and organize the distribution of critical food and other supplies. I do not believe that we will be able to project combat power very effectively into southwest Asia or other OCONUS theaters; consequently there is a medium-to-high probability of significant disruption of petroleum supplies in the short-to-medium timeframe. (2 months to 5 years) (I may not have adequately allowed for the impact of petroleum shortages in my estimates of domestic disruptions.)
Virtually all of the above are my personal conclusions, with all the biases and myopia of any such individual opinions. However, combined with the assessments of other experienced professionals, these may help to construct a realistic evaluation of the country's Y2K posture. (On the other hand, the general lack of previous experience with such an event makes it difficult to assign high confidence to such evaluations.)
Background: I am a project manager in a university affiliated research center which performs applied research and development, principally for DoD customers. I am a retired Army Signal Corps officer with an electrical engineering degree and twenty years of experience in tactical and strategic military communications and computer systems, with recent specialization in satellite communications and information security. Aside from the software application development mentioned above, I am primarily a user of MIS with no direct responsibility for Y2K compliance.
Apologies if the preceding is neither concise nor clear.

Government/5: Selection considered to be the least impact.

Government/5: (Government/FAA/electrical engineer installing new computers in 22 enroute facilities across the nation.) It is impossible to meet the schedule of complete installlation and check out and debug this many facilities in 16 months. We are short of maney, the new computers have not been fully tested in our Atlantic City test facility, there is a serious space problem in the facilities and the first computer installation MIGHT start in Sept 1998. Any major upgrade of this nature normally takes 3 to 4 years so I see it as an impossible physical task to complete just one part of the FAAs y2k problem

Legal/5: Have any of your speakers addressed the potential for social disruptions? Frankly, I haven't thought about it before.

Legal/5: My position has changed little since the March survey--while I HOPE [I used to say 'pray' but then I get numbered with the religious millennialists, which ain't so] for a containment in the 4-5 range, I believe the reality may well prove to be 7 or worse, not because technology failures drive that result, but because the financial infrastructure and distribution chains [both of which have many unregulated/laissez-faire elements] will experience "5-like" isolated disruptions in Q3-Q4 1999, which, once the media get a hold of them, will become the basis of hysterical, prophecy-fulfilling responses, such as runs on banks, liquidity problems in markets, etc. Thus, I fear, handled 'improperly' ["typically"?] anecdotal '5' events could crash the entire system to a 9 or 10--a media-brewed hysteria.
Governmental emergency management readiness, well publicized and supported by visible acknowledgment of its need might blunt some of the shock--but this scenario is unprecedented and probably hits FEMA like plans for an alien invasion. Along with the lateness of real useful institutional responses [John Koskinen?] the intellectual horsepower being applied to figure out how folks can sue each other, rather than prevent significant harm to the economy and our welfare still astounds me ['tho when in our history have we ever been free from carpetbaggers and snake oil salesmen?].
We need to use the time and resources remaining to do crisis management, real useful triage ['goodbye!' school lunch program, tobacco subsidies, end-of-model-year-rebates, global warming, 'hello' to 'this is an 80-column punch card'] and risk avoidance among all institutions. The big I/T companies need assurance that they will not be driven out of existence by b/s litigation, and then their resources need to be drafted by coordinated efforts between business and the government to maintain the core infrastucture institutions that our painfully short sighted Administration just announced on Friday we need a plan to protect. We know what we need; now we just have to get the idiots who post drivil on the Y2K websites out of the way and go and do it.
Or are we not going to do the extraordinary as a way of admitting the problem seems insoluble so we will all JUST GIVE UP? If so, shame on us--our children deserve then to condemn our memories.

Military/5: Almost all of the real problems caused by failure to fix the bugs will result in identifyable glitches that can be corrected by human intervention. Some corrections may take up to five years to effect, but the problems will be worked around in the mean time. The more serious problem will result from panic: people who do not understand the nature of the problem but have heard dire predictions will take defensive actions (e.g., withdrawing large sums from banks, hoarding food, and liquidating stock and bond holdings) that can be extremely disruptive.

Military/5: I still think there will noticeable interruptions in both commercial utility services to consumers and within home/business devices, at least initially. Some will be significant while most will be bothersome. i see the run on banks occuring during November & December as the naysayers and predictors of gloom become more vocal in declaring the impending catastrophe. any recession we have should be extremely mild, relative the other parts of the world.

Military/5: It would be easier to pick and choose what degree each category will be affected. I believe there will be a mild recession, numerous (more than 50%, less than 75%) supply/infrastructure problems, runs on banks, power grids out (in small numbers), transportation gridlocked, medical devices (who knows), yadda, yadda, yadda.

Military/5: Stock market begin to drop in 4th quarter as people read the impact on MIS budgets. Runs on banks in 2d quarter 1999.

Organization/5: For me this is the range (5..7) which I believe likely. I am manic/depressive alternating between happiness at signs of progress and depressed at evidence of continued denial. I think the issue is not so much US as it is international.

Vendor/5: At this point in time, with many gov't agencies still unclear as to which applications they need to convert and test, knowing that we are nearing the point where companies and gov't will have to choose which applications to target (as we get nearer to 1999) for conversion and testing in a triage environment, it is difficult to believe the ramifications of Y2K will not have a major, negative impact within the US. Certainly globally the negative impact will be more significant.

Vendor/5: The major banks will operate intact and even benefit from a major inflow from foreign cash. Same for US brokerage firms, althought the stock markets will be hit and certain(many)stocks will get hammered as real and imagined facts and impressions surface.The real deciding factor will have to due with basic infrastructure services. I believe the telcos will be ready. If the power companies/grids aren't ready, it will be a longer, much longer recovery period. The same for the railroads, but to a much less extent. Overseas will be one crisis spot exploding after another.


March 1998 Survey

Vendor/6: I'm an optimist. My pessimistic side pushed for me to select 7 or even 8.

Government/6: The unknown interrelationships between business areas and market sectors will cause dire consequences. In my role as a government agency Y2k testing coordinator I see a new and different way to "solve" the problem almost every day, yet no one is sponsoring or supporting true interface testing. The side effects of changes will be more harmful than the original problem. Once the media blows the Y2K problem out of proportion, like only the media can, there will be panic that will cause any small problem to be magnified so as to cause total mistrust of technology. This will not be a happy time.

Consultant/6: I am a pessimist. I am also seldom disappointed. I believe the Y2K problem, which could be addressed rationally and solved in the time remaining, will instead be politicized and that the efforts of business and government will be less than effective. Many brave speeches...little impact.

When this is combined with current trends of "It's not my fault...It's their fault...Punish them!" and the higher emotional charge (historically called Millennial Fever) I believe there will be substantial breakdowns in certain areas and that some people will try to take advantage of the confusion for their own gain or sport. For example, many of the people involved in the violence and destruction of the Los Angeles riots would not have recognized Rodney King if they tripped over him.

Consultant/6: I do feel that it is time for programmers to be paid what they are worth. Also some job security after the year 2000. For many of the past few years we have not had many rights in the workforce and have been under appreciated. How long do you think it take for the teamsters to strike if they were not getting time and a half for overtime. Yet for many years no programmer that I know has gotten this and they are expected to put in extra hours. Without us right now working on this problem then most of the worlds computers and programs will have problems. This would most likely mean the collapse of major stock markets and many banks. This would lead to a collapse in the economies of many countries.

Corporate/6: I'm not sure that there will be many bankruptcies, but there will be failures and several distressed companies where layoffs will be required because of distribution, manufacturing or cash flow problems

Consultant/6: The strongest impact will be on those mid sized companies which do not (did not) have the budget or forethought to resolve their Y2K issues. We rely so heavily on those organizations and I do not feel companies are making enough contingencies to protect them from this potential issue. Additionally companies who interface with or rely on international organizations will have a tremendous challenge. Government is not placing enough emphasis or budget on this issue and this will impact the nation as a whole.

Consultant/6: FYI, Usenet newsgroup comp.software.year-2000 has been running a quarterly survey, the results average about 7-8 on your scale. I'd guess that WDCY2K comes in with the same range.

Government/6: Too many uninformed key people not taking any action. The stock market reacts to what it perceives as the future in 6 month not the actual events. Embedded systems are everywhere including 20% of US power plants and are extremely difficult to fix. Communication between Y2K COMPLIANT and non-COMPLIANT computers on a world wide basis is going to fail in many critical areas. ONE POSITIVE factor the internet will be up and running carrying commerce and communication and will be Y2K compliant.

Educational/6: Slow down with Social Security, all retirement funds, and IRS will negatively impact all.

Vendor/6: The infrastructure will be affected by supply shortages of fuels, lack of power (Spotty/localized), inability of local governments to prioritize most needs because of the largeness of the emergency. The durations of services that may be out and the ability of law enforcement to keep a handle on the chaos that results. An inability of most to visualize Y2K as a global problem that will affect everyone in the industrialized world.

May 1998 Survey

Consultant/6: It still amazaes me how many companies and governments have NOT started any remediation whatsoever!

Consultant/6: 6 instead of 5 because of PSYCHOLOGICAL factors in the financial markets.

Consultant/6: In the months since the first survey, I have seen no decisive action or even enhanced awareness by government at the local, state or federal level. Senators Bennett and Dodd and a very few of their colleagues are the exception that proves the rule.
The social impacts of the Year 2000 Problem (financial, logistical, emotional/societal) will be completely out of proportion to the actual damage done by failures to fix programs/devices by 1/1/2000. In short, people will be emotional, overreact and follow the herd...all when it is too late for effective corrective action.
In the aftermath, do not be surprised at a new wave of Luddism, a reaction to the technology and technologists who will be blamed for these disasters. This feeling is stronger and runs deeper today than many of us who work in technology want to believe. A few days of working the phones at a help desk would vividly demonstrate this.

Consultant/6: The scale overlooks some truly worst case scenarios, especially the possibility that a nuclear nation losses significant command and control capabilities or Chernobyl class nuclear power facilities somewhere lose their ability to monitor activity and shut down gracefully in the face of failure.

Consultant/6: As a software engineer for the last 15 years, I have learned that most large software projects will be finished late and over budget. To think that the world can take on the global project of simultaneously ridding all critical systems of the Y2K bug by an immovable deadline is fantasy. US Fortune 500 companies will probably fix most of their systems in time because they have a huge financial incentive to do so, they have the resources and they respond vigorously to financial incentives. Without the same level of resources, smaller private sector organizations will probably not fare as well. With neither the financial incentives, the leadership of politicians nor the ability to compete with the private sector for scarce human resources, the public sector may fare worst of all.

Consultant/6: The economic effects will begin when the press gets serious on the subject and stops trying to make a joke about it. Clinton and Democrats will bear the blame for the government not being ready. The IRS will hopefully fold and a VAT-type sales tax will be instituted. A lot hinges on the seriousness of the problems with imbedded chips in manufacturing. A lot hinges on internal audit reporting to catch erroneous data, transmissions, etc. Basically, a lot hinges on how fast IT professionals can put out fires and band-aid everything back together.

Consultant/6: As noted in previous survey results, items at different levels will not necessarily only occur with those at the same level. I'd expect: Significant impact for many enterprises (especially government), including many bankruptcies; significant market adjustment given the companies which fail, but some companies will do extremely well in newly opened up arenas; temporary rise in unemployment; riots in some areas; possibly run on banks, although the financial sector seems to be one of the best prepared; political crises (given government's inability to overcome this problem) with possible martial law for a while - extent unpredictable at this time; enough food for the US, with shortages of certain foods in different areas of the country due to transportation coordination problems - very possible our food shipments out of the country will be halted for a while.

Consultant/6: Although the US will be well prepared, the economic impact of worldwide effects will directly affect the US economy and trade balance resulting in a large impact on the sale and transfer of goods and services both domestically and internationally.
Public utilities will be affected, more noticeably in smaller communities. Erratic fluctuations in the demand for electricity will overwhelm power control systems causing immediate shutdown of power grids. Systems will be brought online in small increments with major cities regaining power in a week to two weeks. Small communities resort to manual operation of water pumping stations; large communities are affected more.

Consultant/6: I am a self employed consultant but not on Y2K. I am a project manager 29 years in the business; most recent projects have been website development. Although I've read Ed & Jennifer Yourdon's book and Capers Jones' book on the subject, subscribe to your list, read much of comp.software.year-2000 Usenet news group, and read the original general, business, and computer press articles linked to by c.s.y2k posters I've never worked in an IT shop or developed a major process control system, and have no first hand knowledge.

Consultant/6: As our clients (mostly small businesses) become more aware of the problem, many seem overwhelmed by the potential for the ripple effct on the economy as well as society. Even with more awareness, many are waiting to take remedial steps. If this attitude persists and is national in scope, Category 6 impact is inevitable.

Corporate/6: In the time since the last survey I have become slightly more pessimistic. Our Year 2000 Compliance project is continuing to run in our "spare time" as new business development takes the bulk of our resources. Senior management thinks we are exaggerating the impact of Y2K and that we'll figure out how to get past any problems that arise.

Corporate/6: Although many companies are taking steps to inventory and correct the Y2K internal systems, there are countless interfaces the companies can do nothing about. If those interfaces have a Y2K operation, they may fail. If the company responsible for the interface is a primary supplier then there is going to be a problem getting to market with the product.
For example, an airline or automobile company relies on hundreds of suppliers to provide a product - if any of those suppliers have to provide a critical component for the final product, then the airline or automobile company cannot market their product. If that happens, then the company must lay off workers, etc.
Because the United States has a global economy we are dependent of thousands of suppliers world wide. If those suppliers cannot produce the parts or final products, then the business community will be forced to lay off workers. and the cycle will start all over again.

Government/6: It's clear that not everyone will be prepared - either because of (a) late start to fix, (b) no money for this or (c) they don't care. Since everyone depends on everyone else, it will cause bankruptcies and other major business disruptions. I can be sure [our] programs all run correctly but I can't be sure our suppliers will survive or be able to produce. Imagine [our organization] unable to get a delivery of toilet paper! or copy paper! I think some suppliers of software will not fix their product and will simply go out of business on 12/31/1999; then open up 1/1/2000 as a different company. "Sure we'll fix the old company's software program. It will only cost you xxx". Well, some small companies may not be able to afford it.
I'm also concerned that Europe is more concerned with the Euro then Y2K - which might cause big problems. They took on two large scale projects at the same time - perhaps not a wise move.

Military/6: It is still incredible to talk to non-Y2K folks about Y2K. They still think it is not a problem. Or, an easy fix is available, but those Y2K contractors are just jacking up their rates, etc. NO ONE IS LOOKING AT THE END TO END FIXES. Everyone is focused on their "piece". Doing AWARENESS briefings to govmint personnel, sometimes I encounter the "1000 yard" stare. I can tell some are calculating if they will be in the same job, or retired and don't have to worry about Y2K. Some are thinking about how they can move and not be responsible. Those two groups, if they come up with an out, sit back and listen, and at the end, the only questions they have are how to fix their OWN HOME PCs, not the thousands they are currently responsible for! The US Govmint will not get the important systems fixed.

Military/6: The inherent danger of predicting the future is that it's a moving target. At any given point in time there is a new set of possible outcomes. It is still not too late to change course. However, based on the current trend of downplaying the seriousness of the Y2K problem and a general lack of decisive action, I would say that this country is headed for a rude awakening as to the extent that it depends on information technology.

Military/6: I guess you'd have to put me in the 5.5 - 6.5 range. My problem is that I would rate the issues into categories: Economic, Infrastructure, Social Impact, and Political. In these categories I would anticipate the following:
Economic: Mild recession, unemployment may dip at least temporarily as companies "go manual" in an attempt to survive, some local runs on banks. Bigger impact as the "velocity of money" drops from 75 mph to 25mph for 6-24 months. Short term 90-120 day heavily cash economy.
Infrastructure: Regional supply and infrastructure problems - some localized blackouts, regionalized brownouts - 6-24 month recovery - again by "going manual."
Social Impact: There will always be opportunists that will take advantage of social disruption - in some hotspots this may lead to rioting - nothing heavy duty unless someone fans the flames "the rich folks got {lights, water, heat, food, - you pick} some localized martial law.

Politics: This IS a political crisis! The only way to win is to "declare war" on the problem. To "declare war" and have less than an overwhelming victory, is political suicide - NO ONE is going to grab this bull by the tale! Calm words and assurances from the top will be essential to minimize the social impact. Will we have a capable messenger? Unknown!

Organization/6: I believe this problem to be entirely misunderstood by the American public at-large, and a large portion of our nation's small-businesses. Should small business in the U.S. be affected in even the smallest way it would have a profound effect on the economy (small business makes up over 50% of both our nation's workforce as well as our GDP).

Organization/6: While I'm not certain about the strong recession, I do agree with the rest of the statement. I think that the public sector, particularly local and federal govt. will be severely impacted. I think many of the states have a better handle on this issue, although some of the rural or western states do not, but they also have fewer IT systems. I am afraid that some of the worst disruptions will come from embedded systems that have been neglected. There will be more than one situation where the IT systems work, but the infrastructure will not, thus preventing employees from getting to work or being able to work due to heat, electricity, etc. The international implications are terrible with 70% of the world's countries barely addressing this problem. I am an optimistic at heart so I still hope that we can minimize the worst of the problems in the areas of health and safety, but I fear that my optimism will be misplaced.

Other/6: It is very difficult to gauge where the US is in terms of fixing "mission critical" systems (infrastructure, banking, military etc.) but my feeling is that your major corporations will "fix" about 75% of their systems. The real problem lies in the interrelated economies of the world and how the inaction of Asia (Japan) and some european countries affect the US. The other problem I see is how the US public will react to the potential problems when it finally wakes up. By mid-99 we should begin to get nightly news stories about the associated problems and potential disasters. As the public begins to react by moving life savings out of mutual funds and stocks...the dominoes begin to fall.

Vendor/6: I fear that the economic fallout from this problem will start with a downward lurch and then gradually spiral further downward for a couple of years before the world economy turns back up. Barring extended infrastructure disruption, I believe the U.S. (if not the world) will work its way through this challenge without major societal upheaval. If the energy and telecommunications infrastructure fails in any substantial way, all bets are off.

Vendor/6: There was an impact on the market with the Asian crisis recently, even though the market was strong. American industry is addressing the Y2K issue, however, the International community is not reacting fast enough to mitigate the Y2K risk.


March 1998 Survey

Government/7: I believe that the expected power grid collapse on the East coast will have a domino effect that will have the stated impact. Americans have experienced no electricity before, however only locally and for short periods of time. This expected blackout will result in a negative effect on each person in America. How long will it be before food spoils in the fridge resulting in food shortages, how long before the car runs out of gas resulting in transportation problems , how long can you work without computers, telephones, lights and heat resulting in no money if you could find what you need. Just stop and think how electricity touches our everyday lives. Without the power grid, life as we know and expect it will not continue after 1/1/2000. However, this is America. We will pull together and attack and fix this problem. We will get back on our feet and many people will be promptly fired and sued for ignoring the problem to a point that allowed the expected temporary grief to happen in the first place. Smile if you wish, I am preparing for self sufficiency!

Corporate/7: Depends on what the FAA is able to do in the next 6 months and if research agencies (Metagroup, Gartner, Forrester) are wrong about utility and Health industry. Disruptions, even if only for a few weeks or months, in these infrastructure areas will cause chaos and panic.

Vendor/7: Our clients range from being very much in control and in time to fix the problem to people who have yet to tackle the bulk of the situation. It is unclear how the situation will play out at the last minute, but if things keep going at the rate it is going now, the U.S. will be severely impacted. The sense of urgency is still not there.

Vendor/7: On the one hand, the US currently runs quite well on computers with an infinite number of existing bugs. On the other hand, these bugs aren't the same one and they didn't occur at the same time, requiring the same limited skill set to resolve. Year 2K is a PEOPLE MANAGEMENT PROBLEM. And it will end cause more problems than it should, mostly because both Government and Industry are dealing with it as though it's normal project - to be evaluated slowly, carefully, taking into consideration all the vendors, making them go through all the normal motions, etc. IT'S TOO LATE FOR THAT! IT'S AN EMERGENCY!

The government should consider immediately forming an agency that immediately hires the thousands of needed skilled resources and vendors, at COMPETITIVE RATES and APPROPRIATE INCENTIVES, to have them available to any government organization who needs them.

Government/7: Where was "all of the above"? Political crises will come in the shape of some of the Defense infrastructure problems. Also, it will "overshadow" the inaugural events of 00, but a plus because this person will be "exhibit" the leadership skill to pull things together nationally after "pockets" of social unrest are isolated. Regionally supply chain problems will occur because "smaller" links will be scrambling to repair/exist/exit infrastructure.

Consultant/7: The government has not yet reached awareness!

Consultant/7: Nothing I can say that can't be sung...

Conslutant/7: Lots of creativity and effort, but too little too late and the utilities and government are in the worst shape.

Corporate/7: What is the government doing to ensure financial market systems will be compliant? (exchanges, broker-dealers, banks, etc.).

Consultant/7: We estimate that no more than 50% of the US companies have a sufficient Y2K activity to make it through the year 2000. From our observations, there are still 20-35% who have not addressed the problem and more than 60% have yet to begin remediation activity. In addition to the software/hardware problems which get the most press, embedded systems will have the most impact. There are too many unknowns in their use and application to everyday things to be effectively corrected in time. Even if the US was able to be 100% compliant, the rest of the world, which we have to interface with, will not be able to provide or receive reformatted data on January 1, 2000.

Consultant/7: Although I do not yet believe that the Y2K software crisis will mean the "end of the world as we now know it", I foresee regional impacts of a severe nature. Those regions most vulnerable are the most densely populated areas, where the supply-chain/infrastructure will be absolutely stretched over a relatively short span of time. I'm reminded of a physics problem where a Heaviside function (abrupt, huge stimulus occurs) and the effects attenuate over a significant period of time (but not immediately). I am becoming more convinced that the unknowable side of the Y2K problem - embedded systems - will be the litmus test of how well or how badly our country fares in the first half of 2000 A.D.

Military/7: The problem is we don't KNOW the magnitude of the problem! Americans are very good problem solvers - once the problem is identified concretely. This problem is an example of chaos theory in practice. We do not have a command economy - the last 30 years of infrastructure - technical, social, financial, etc. were not designed and planned, they grew - organically in response to market opportunities. The market as it stands - dominated by "quick buck" experts - rewards "first" more generously than "best." "Best" will survive the shakeout better, but the "first" management will learn nothing from it! Sigh......

Consult/7: Historically, due to the emphasis on dialogue, our political system does little to prepare for impending problems unless the crisis is imminent. The imminence of this crisis will not be fully appreciated until a major infrastructure disruption occurs which affects life or fiscal stability; thereupon political interference will add to the magnitude of the problems and introduce its own dimension. If it were not for this, I would have chosen choice 6 instead of choice 7.

Consultant/7: The harder I work, and the more people I talk to in this industry, the more pessimistic the response ... I waffled between 7 & 8.

Consultant/7: Opinion surveys are interesting, but models of failure scenarios would be more compelling. Particularly in the government, where progress appears to be slow and truth elusive.

Legal/7: As part of the industry team working feverishly to thwart a real crisis, by generating responsible vendor behavior, modifying customer (especially Fed Gov, large institutional [e.g.-bank, investment, telecom, aviation]) expectations and response, and generally avoiding the Bruce Hall/ Lou Marcocio chicken little outcomes, my HOPE is that we are successful and that the real result is somewhere in the 3-4-5 range.

But, as I look at US Gov posture, the naivete of many large corporate I/T users, the European readiness posture, and other tea leaves, I really fear that the outcome will be "worse than 5". Given the cascading nature of phenomena like runs on banks--the herd mentality/feeding frenzy nature of our culture, until the media infrastructure collapses, hysteria will come, "isolated" runs on a few small banks will breed wholesale panic, and with the collapse of confidence in the financial infrastructure will come distribution/transportation failure, which, as the President's Commission blithely points out, will paralyze the rest of essential services of government, health care, etc. and THWACK, you've got a "millenium"--or, put another way, anything 5 or worse won't stop till 9 or 10.

So, we need drastic measures NOW, [emergency supplemental Appropriation for essential government systems {beyond national security, otherwise only the soldiers and cops will have functioning systems}, furlough of thousands of government employees who can't be put to work writing Social Security checks, a PLAN for air traffic, rail traffic, bridges, highways, food supply, pharmaceuticals, electrical power, telecom, etc.] because by the time things get bad enough that the featherbedders in Congress do something about it, they'll be "tits up in the Potomac." I love Sen. Bennett for his foresight, but he's working inside a system that is part of the problem. Where do ya think two digit date fields came from--look at War Department ledgers for supplies during Custer's Campaign!

Consultant/7: Still too soon to evaluate because the awareness level is so low and so few assessments are underway for embedded systems. I expect significant regional power interruptions/reductions in grid supply due to loss of nuclear plant supplies. Impacts in military-industrial complex could be significant. Federal agencies are feeling no sense of urgency for Y2K embedded systems in my opinion.

Vendor/7: a. Expect regional telecommunications outages on the order of days (1-5), regional electrical power distribution outages on the order of weeks (1-5), and air transportation impacts on the order of months (1-5, maybe years). b. Expect items in a. above will interact with one another and drive high demand for repair resources. c. Pray we have a mild winter.

May 1998 Survey

Consultant/7: We work mainly in the medical systems area. Unless there is substantial improvement in their readiness, Y2K is going to kill people. Don't get sick, don't get hurt, don't go near healthcare facilities for the first six months of 2000.

Consultant/7: In examing the Presidents Y2K efforts and reading the list of government agencies that are in trouble, there is no way to avoid the element of "chaos" throughout this country, not to mention those outside our borders.

Consultant/7: We are facing the greatest crisis to worldwide public safety since the cuban missle crisis and no one seems concerened. The Y2k bug will not wait, it will arrive on time if not early. This is a bullet that can't be dodged. The minimum problems will be on the 7th level and could go right off of your chart if not prepared for and fixed promptly. Two weeks without power world wide would throw our society into collapse and our technology back to the bronze age.

Consultant/7: A large amount of business is communicated and conducted with worldwide neighbors. I believe their inability to comprehend and accomplish the task will affect the U.S. much greater than is perceived. Therefore we will see enormous infrastructure problems in addition to the great impact of business beyond our borders.

Consultant/7: My comments and vote for # 7 remain the same; people are not realizing the seriousness of the situation and things are moving at a snails pace compared to the monumental effort required globally. The interdependency factor will, in the end, drag much of the world into the vortexes of collapse that will be located at various places and in various industries throughout the world.

Consultant/7: The above is what I am planning for with hopes it is much less serious. All governmental agencies and corporate businesses need to cleanup the IT & Non-IT portfolios, get control of inventory and configurations, apply standards within their organizations and promote standards across like business centers within major industries.
The critical systems will not be fixed in time, the band-aids will begin peeling off before we finish the critical systems,.. And because there was no standard fix applied to all linked and interfaced systems, enterprises and industries, the Y2K problem will likely be a cold war we fight for the next 10 years

Consultant/7: I think there will be widespread impact resulting from a failure to deal with this issue in a timely manner. However, I also believe in the ability of the American people to find ways around problems. The lag between these two events is what will cause most of the problems. If we wait for government to fix the problem, the effect will be protracted severely.

Consultant/7: Since the last survey, I haven't seen any indications that the impacts of Y2K will be less severe than I originally thought. The general tone of Y2K activities is moving quickly towards risk/damage avoidance and minimization (as opposed to productive mitigation efforts).
In my opinion, the greatest threat to successful mitigation of Year 2000 problems in the U.S. is the rapidly evolving legal "feeding frenzy" now being born. Public companies are unwilling to freely share poor product Y2K compliance status for fear of corporate devaluation in the equity markets and of litigation. Otherwise capable vendors and service providers are unwilling to pursue Y2K work because of liability risks. States are now immunizing themselves against lawsuits for projected failures to provide public services. Legal practices are now "training" for Y2K class action efforts. Witness Peter de Jager's reasons for ending Project Damocles.
The American propensity for legal remedies, as opposed to developing and implementing real fixes, will not serve the country well for this issue. In fact, it may cause more economic pain and suffering than the original problem.

Consultant/7: I'm a software programmer / consultant with 14 years experience. I find myself vacillating between denial (it can't happen / it's just a bad dream) and panic (I need to protect my family and head for the hills). When it comes to Y2K, it seems that otherwise intelligent, educated and rational people suffer from cognitve dissonance (i.e. the facts render a conclusion that is so unbelieveable, the mind dismisses it and comes to a conclusion it can deal with).
On your scale of 0 thru 10 and based on a static snapshot on 5/13/98, I am in the 6 to 9 range - probably a 7.5 - although if we don't get our act together, it is not too hard to envision a 10. With that in mind, I'll put down a 7 for the time being, with room for future adjustments up or down based on how events unfold.
I just finished a relatively small scale Y2K conversion that was originally estimated/budgeted to take 2 people 6 months. It took 10 people 2 years. The hardest, most labor intensive part was identifying dates that were embedded in non-date key fields and other strings of data, as well as tracing dates through fields that have names that are not readily identifiable as dates. No automated tools can handle those tasks.
That lapse in schedule was for a small system. Extrapolate the numbers to a larger system such as Bank of America which currently has 1000 programmers working on it full time and only estimates its work to be 1/3 done (per Ed Yourdon 5/6/98).
The work cited above has nothing to do with embedded systems, the wild card in the Y2K deck. Astonishingly enough, the business community is only now realizing the scope and magnitude of this 'potential' problem and it seems they have been stunned into a state of denial.

I subscribe to Federal Computer Week and have been anxiously tracking the Federal Government Agencies' progress on the Y2K problem for several years. The May 5th Federal Computer Week has no less than 10 pieces dealing with Y2K, 4 dealing with failing Y2K remediation efforts in the federal government:

  1. GAO Slams DOD's Y2K effort pg 3,
  2. GAO says Interior faces Y2K meltdown - pg 10,
  3. Agencies doubt they can make Y2K deadlines pg 15,
  4. Year 2000 Computing Crisis, Federal Regulatory Efforts to Ensure Financial Institution Systems are y2k compliant - pg 15.

Some of the most troubling insights are:

Given the facts that:

  1. most IT projects ARE underestimated and NOT completed on time,
  2. that there is a worldwide labor shortage of Y2K skills,
  3. that Y2K projects are the most costly, labor intensive projects that most business entities will ever undertake,
  4. that 01/01/2000 is an immovable deadline,
  5. and that many private companies and that most federal agencies, state agencies and local governments, have not moved past the assessment stage of Y2K work,

I am not optomistic that ALL the critical systems of ALL these entites will be completed and syncronized on time.

What percent of the global / U.S. ecomomy must shut down for the whole thing to shut down? I don't know, but we may find out. This will be an interesting case study in chaos theory and complex systems.

There is a lot of data out there and a lot of varied opinions on the post-Y2K future. Time will tell who is right and who is wrong. The important thing is for adequate contingency planning and disaster recovery planning by the Federal, State and local governments starting NOW. Emergency food and medical distribution hubs must be established and stocked prior to 01/01/2000. This means mobilizing FEMA, the national guard, the military establishment, and other appropriate federal, state and local emergency agencies and working out the logistics of such a disaster preparedness plan. The public must be educated about the risks and contingency plans in a way that prevents panic.

Each individual and family must determine a course of action based on their own individual assessments of the magnitude and potential impact of this problem and they must assess their own personal priorites and loyalties (e.g. if confronted with the level 9/10 doomsday scenerio does the soldier, reservist, policeman, etc. answer the call to duty by his/her country or does he/she protect his/her own family)?

One last caveat - the inherent security risks associated with Y2K and its ensuing chaos present the optimal opportunity for terrorists and/or other 'kooks' to wreck havoc (e.g. unleasing nuclear devices, or deadly chemical and/or biological agents). Keep an eye on Saddam.

Corporate/7: Although I think the y2k effects will be severe, I think they will last a year or shorter in duration. That is the time I think it will take to regroup and restructure our way of life to survive/solve the y2k problems.

Corporate/7: This survey is more like a consumer confidence survey because the people answering these questions are not trained to do so. But, even so, the survey definitely gives an indication of "knowledgeable Y2K" sentiment.

Corporate/7: Still not enough attention and urgency and explanation of problem breadth to average citizen. A recent Washington Post article even dismissed the problem as hype - much ado about nothing. Clinton is worried about his legacy and how history will view him, and his lack of leadership to this problem may well become his long-term legacy.
I also worry that many corporate leaders believe all is well in their companies, based on assurances from their managers, when the truth is otherwise. I think many corporations have thinned out middle management excessively, and taught the remaining managers to only present good news (or get fired). So top management is only hearing what they want to hear. And the middle managers are now just looking for their next job, with no longer any loyalty or long-term commitment to their company or concern about its long term future. Y2K may well expose the seriousness of this problem.
I think the SEC efforts to assure stockholders are informed of companies preparation status are wise; companies will not want to admit they are in trouble; penalties for lying should be severe and personal, not just fines to a (bankrupt?) corporation. How do we hold the government as accountable?

Educational/7: Last week The International Emergency Management Society (TIEMS 98) [note two digits] held its annual conference in Washington, DC. Y2K was not mentioned in the program. These are the people who help us recover from earthquakes, floods, huricanes, etc. I was told that a spokesperson from FEMA mentioned y2k as a problem that had to be solved. She said FEMA was not compliant now but had plans to become compliant. She did not mention any possible disruptions or disasters that might result from firms or systems not being compliant. Hence, y2k was described as an IT problem with no connection to the subject matter of the conference. A "workshop" on y2k was scheduled during a coffee break. Three people showed up. Judging from informal conversations during the conference my impression is that emergency management professionals from around the world do not yet regard y2k as a matter of professional interest to them.

Government/7: I think this is going to be a major domino effect. Small feeder companies are not going to have the cash or manpower to convert systems, and buy new equipment, they will fail. This will then lead to larger companies being unable to provide services as a result of them not getting necessary supplies.
This coupled with an 'electronic' based currency which will, in most cases, become non-existent leads to a society with no real currency, and no method of exchanging goods and services. The hardest hit will necessarily be high population areas, because of their high reliance on an information based job structure, and there inability to provide basic living needs, food, electric water.

Government/7: The Platte River study shows what can happen when infrstructure services are stopped. It causes all kinds of problems.

Government/7: I voted last week and entered what I thought was a slightly pessimistic '5'. Then I read the ITAA Year 2000 Outlook for May 15. I thought the FAA and DOD were being more than optimistic in their projections for completing their conversions--much too little much too late. Loss of air traffic would be a major inconvenience to this country. The failure of our military to take an aggressive position in this unavoidable technology collision is unforgivable and chilling. But what sent my score spiraling downward is the failure of the utilities to respond to what is rapidly becoming a crisis. We used to talk in the seventies about sitting in the dark and cold because of the oil crisis. We may well be facing exactly that in 18 months because the power, oil, and gas companies don't seem to be responding to the looming disaster. Maybe the survivalists had it right. Maybe '7' is not low enough.

Military/7: The public and politically awareness has been too little too late. Inaction at the Congressional and White House has led to a far to casual attitude towards the Y2K crisis until recently. Even now, the attention is totally inadequate. Midrange corporations, state and local governments and major providers of basic services may face moderate to major failures in their individual systems. Current deregulation of the nation's power industry has diverted attention from the Y2K crisis to competition and corporate reorganization. I strongly feel that even if a few minor power companies experience failure on January 1, 2000 it would likely lead to a major power outage across large sections of the nation. Only by disconnecting the power grid infrastructure can individual power companies prevent the sudden surge of power demand caused by the local failures which will in turn cause a system overload and failure. Economically the world is a single market. The failures in Asia and Europe will create a severe strain on the US markets and an economic downturn. Health care industry is not ready with contingency plans to keep their basic systems in operation, little less to account for a sudden power loss. The lack of such plans may cause deaths of 100s of Americans.

Military/7: I believe that there will be failures of various systems for about a one month time frame; banks will have troubles; electric systems will have trouble; manufacturing will have troubles. It will take about a month to correct the various problems. People will be upset with the pres and congress for not taking steps soon enough, and a third party might win the elections.

Military/7: We will likely experience regional failures in distribution systems (information, supply, etc.) where Y2K responsibilities were not clearly defined and "system of systems" testing was not adequately performed between organizations. Most organizations will probably not have adequate plans and resources on hand to immediately recover from system failures.

Military/7: Outages of services will likely occur. Many items will likely remain unidentified and will impact other systems leading to a larger outage. There will be attempts to ensure contingencies are enacted, some are actually being enacted now. The political crises will result from lack of proper planning and general public will raise their voices to point finger at administrations and leadership for not anticipating and taking enough action.
Some agencies and services have not yet become enlightened as to the Y2K issues. I have been visiting businesses (small and large) and have asked if they have taken any actions. Their responses, "What problem?" or, "That computer thing?". Considering these responses, we are in severe need for the media and the political leaders to start educating the public and helping to awaken action. I see little action in this area and it is mixed in its review - There is a major problem to it is all hype and exaggerated!

Organization/7: It's extremely important that it be understood that any negative impacts we experience will --in fact-- be temporary. There will be an end to it, and we will then rebuild and go on. We need to focus on how to whether 'the storm', not cope with an apocalypse.

Organization/7: I fall somewhere between 7 & 8. I do think there will be significant infrastructure problems like power outages, bank failures, food shortages and so on...but I do not think that these will lead to violence or social unrest...just because I don't think that people in reality generally react that way to hardship. In the former Soviet Union, life goes on, even though most folks never get paid, the lights go out all the time, etc.

Organization/7: During the last of 1999 I expect considerable disruption as media driven panic sets in among the economic underclasses and Joe Sixpacks (AKA The Lumpenproletariat, The Great Unwashed) who live on maxed out credit and understand little or nothing of economics much less computer systems.
For most of the year 2000 I expect an economic replay of 1934 in terms of production, unemployment, and social distress. As more and more systems, and their linkages are jerry-rigged into operation, I expect a decent uplift in economic activity by the last quarter of Y2000. This may well be restriced by: (1) engergy and transport problems; and (2) the lack of internation trade caused by other countries and area continuing to have significant Y2K infastructure problems.
Another impact -- whose extent is unknown and unknowable -- will come from the various levels of government. In particular this will focus on the ability (or inability) to collect revenue and dispense it. The real question, I guess, is whether the politicians, at all levels, can face the situation and work creatively to solve it; or will fall back into political bickering and fingerpointing (Nero fiddling while Rome burns comes to mind). The very thought of 2000 being an election year gives me the cold sweats.


March 1998 Survey

Consulting/8: I foresee the US government instituting a military style draft for IT professionals to assist in the software remediation process. Although it would be politically dangerous, Mr. Clinton, AT THIS TIME, should declare a state of national emergency. Al Gore, the father of the "Information Super Highway", will soon find that it will dead end on a very high cliff. He will ultimately inherit the blame for the chaos that will undoubtedly occur soon. Why wasn't he on top of Y2k back in 1992-1993?

Corporate/8: How do you declare martial law when the military systems also fail?

Corporate/8: I see this as worst case, but am leaning more and more this way as time goes on and not enough is being done by government to avert the inherent dangers. Additionally, the large majority of people in the United States are still completely unaware of the problem, and if aware, have no idea of the full impact on our lives--especially the effect of the failure of the utilities companies, etc. This will greatly exacerbate the situation and will result in panic and social incidents/disruptions (which I added to the # 8 list).

Organization/8: For want of two digit repairs well tested, the application was lost; for want of the application, the systems were lost; for want of the systems, the EDIs were lost; for want of the EDIs, the networked enterprises were lost; for want of many public and private enterprises, much of the cyber kingdom was lost.

Government/8: Fooling ourselves into believing a "magic bullet" exists only exacerbates the problem. I suspect we are going to be in denial until the end of this year when a lot of systems will start failing.

Government/8: At all levels and all enterprises, Y2K is pretty much a case of "too little, too late" that is going to affect everyone, even those who have completed their own Y2K projects. "Six Degrees Of Separation" is even more true now than when the play was first performed. Nothing the government can do at this point will completely resolve the expected downturn before it happens. I believe that at this point the best thing the Feds can do is encourage decentralized disaster recovery efforts (by decentralized, I mean at the neighborhood level, with the local firehouse or school as the rally point), with the full admission that outside help may be late in arriving if at all. Given the recent performance of FEMA, anything less will not be believed, and giving more money to FEMA is *not* the answer. This is definitely going to be a case where the "Six P's" apply, and the sooner we do the "Prior Planning" the lower the "Poor Performance" level will be.

Vendor/8: I do not think nobody is serious about fixing the problems. As long as we can charge on our plastic cards, we are happy. We think developing countries (Do NOT call them third world countries) have more problems. It is not so. People in those countries know how to write books and do simple arithmetic without much fuss. It is here where we depend on computers so much we face disasters. We have lawyers to make it worse.

May 1998 Survey

Consultant/8: I fully expect disruptions of up to 3-6 months within the manufacturing/transportation sectors and a 1-3 month disruption in the Utility sector, resulting in local disruptions and imposition of martial law. I also fully expect the impact to be much more severe in Asian economies where Y2K awareness/resolutions are lagging those in the US and Canada. This could create some radical changes in the balance of global and regional security structures particularly in Asia.

Consultant/8: Anyone trying to cover up the true state of their Y2K compliance progress will be exposed in the harshest light when Y2k hits. It behooves everyone to be as honest as possible now to avoid uncontrolled panic later.

Corporate/8: I have not seen, heard or read anything since the last survey that would lead me towards a more optimistic conclusion. There has been no visible increase in the level of activity in the government or private sector. Furthermore, in my own company's y2k project, we have just come to appreciate how big the testing effort is going to be. It is huge - and we don't have mainframes or COBOL to deal with! We run packaged applications (such as Oracle Financials) on Unix and NT and are still facing a huge resource drain as we enter testing. The deafening silence coming from other companies regarding this matter is not reassuring.

Corporate/8: It will be rough in the US, much worse elsewhere. I fear a multiplier effect, such as failure to move seed/fertilizer/pesticide in early 2000 leading to total loss of some crops in late 2000, and consequent devastating famine in some countries. I estimate from 10M to 300M deaths from this effect alone, and if wars start then all bets are off.

Educational/8: This selection is based on the following assumptions:

  1. that the current thrust of Federal government efforts, as well as public and private efforts in general, continues on its current course;
  2. that major initiatives continue to be based on an extremely limited definition of the nature and scope of the set of problems facing us, a limited definition that principally involves information technology and cyberspace and ignores major environmental, economic, domestic welfare, societal, security, and global consequences; and
  3. that near term steps fail to be taken to mandate, fund, and establish a Special Y2K Emergency Mitigation and Management Office (or Special Action Office) in the Executive Office of the President, or elsewhere in the government, a Special Action Office that would have a far more comprehensive mission than the present extraordinarily small White House-based effort, a Special Action Office that would have the authority, leadership, and resources to act to prevent, minimize, prepare for and ameliorate the possible melange of crises and the aftermath of the crises that can be expected if a worst case scenario were to evolve.

If such steps were undertaken and effectively initiated during the summer or early fall of 1998, then the disastrous consequences of Y2K problems could be significantly reduced.

Government/8: I think some of the optimism is fading when I hear that some of the most progressive organizations such as Social Security are hedging, and the increasing level of corporate complaints about the dismal response from vendors and suppliers concerning compliance status. It looks like 2 step forward and 3 steps back. I previously voted a 7, but this time an 8.

Government/8: I'm Government, Federal. I voted 8 and still vote the same. At the time I cast my original vote I was leaning towards 9 because I felt that it was too late to avoid severe disruptions, but that crisis management, if it commences in time, could keep the situation at a level 8 or even 7. The type of crisis management I consider necessary is for both the utility firms and railroads to admit that they have serious problems and then plan together so that the tracks that are fixed first are the ones that feed coal to the generating plants that will be operational first. Similarly, the telecoms must tell the other key components of the infrastructure which types of communication links are most vulnerable so that reasonable contingency plans can be developed. At the time of the first vote, I hadn't seen any signs of this sort of process ever getting established. However, there are rumblings that indicate that some of Mr. Koskinen's actions may lead to this result. The sooner the better.
Also, more journalists are starting to write stories indicating that maybe there really is a problem after all. This erodes some of the denial and makes the subject more appropriate serious discussion. The sooner each individual and firm accepts the problem and prepares for the consequences, the better we will all be in the end. I'm now a solid 8, instead of an 8 leaning toward 9.

Other/8: I have increased my rating since last time because I have heard it takes about 18 months for emergency measures organizations to prepare and practice contingency plans for disasters and my local EMO has not been aware of y2k disasters. For example, they have no contingency plans for telephones being out of service. I will continue to try to alert my EMO that y2k contains a risk of disruptions.

Other/8: Whether or not markets will "collapse," I don't know. It depends on your definition of "collapse" (as of its current highs, the Dow could fall to between 5800 & 6400, and still not kill the long-term bull market which began in August of 1982- that would be a decline of 31-37%. Using the same methods, I was able to correctly call the bottom in 1987, to within 10 points they would have worked in 1990 at the bottom, too, but I was otherwise occupied- these past predictions are not something that should be advertised, please) Also, a depression depends on definition as well, but I'd rate the chances of least temporary 20%+ unemployment as certainly significant. How long this lasts, there's no way to know. In terms of relating the stock market to an economy like that, it depends on how investors (particularly the institutions) react. If they simply move money from non-Y2K compliant businesses into compliant ones, the averages themselves could hold up relatively well, until we start to come out of this. (Incidentally, those businesses, organizations, nations & individuals which go into this prepared will not only survive, they will thrive, and flourish in the post-Y2K world.) And if investors properly recognize that Y2K is an "artificial" depression or severe recession, the market will simply fly upwards as we beging to emerge from this. However, for the shorter term, experts seem to be overlooking very key areas in their analysis- ie, the impact of a severe oil shortage on attempts to repair fossil fuel power utilities, for instance, among numerous other things.
Local martial law seems, at this point, to be just a given. Not to mentioning rationing of all sorts- energy (definitely), perhaps food, even transportation & travel.
We *will* get through this- at this point, it's a matter of how well the triage is set up, & how well the contingency plans are both developed & executed. But because the US is ahead in preparation, we will also come out ahead of the rest of the world on the other side of this. In point of fact, I actually expect we will rebuild the rest of the world. We may well experience the greatest economic boom in history in the post-Y2K world. Unfortunately, the price we- and the world- will pay for that will be exceedingly high.

Vendor/8: Although I'd like to think on the positive side and say we'll only see a "6', I think things may slide downhill to an "8" possible "9" since the administration is still taking no positive actions. We still have the opportunity to take an active hand in minimizing the negative effects in the US if communities start taking the situation in hand and put in contingency plans to help its citizens. However, I think the greatest impact upon the US economy will be from global Y2K effects, such as Japan's economy failing further due to the fact that 80% of its power is from Nuclear reactors. If they're shut down for safety reasons, Japan's already weakened economy (which is strategically intertwined with our own) will have huge problems to cope with.


March 1998 Survey

Corporate/9: Proper English aside, I cannot tell you how badly I want to be mistaken. FEMA or other gov't agency should be mobilized to begin contingency planning and disaster recovery for basic infrastructure, food and water distribution.

Other/9: Y2K will be a seminal event of the 20th century of the same importance as the two World Wars and the Great Depression. It will be the principal accelerate in the advent of the Information Age which will alter society and government in ways as profound as the American and French Revolutions. Y2K will be a wild ride.

Consultant/9: I think some areas will be infrastructure-wise intact with possible exceptions of petroleum based products might be rationed heavily and shortages there; those areas reliant upon wood generated and hydro-electric utilities that are prepared might be best off. I would have liked to have picked 8.5 or 8.75 as the number I feel is more likely the average. I hope I'm wrong. But available evidence points towards what I picked.

Government/9: I have seen many lies and half truths on this issue in the government agency that I worked as a contractor for until recently. Nobody is really working on the problem the way it needs to be worked on. This is going to be a disaster. Goodbye FDIC.

Consultant/9: Unless the president mobilizes the energies or this country then I believe their is not a chance for the above not happening. The Chief Executive Officer of this country must take responsibility to alert the populace NOW and then allocate resources to ensure that all basic services will work. I sent the President a email saying "that their was no mention of the Y2K problem in the State of the Union message thereby giving a false impression that their IS NO PROBLEM. I strongly suggest that the Federal government make it the only priority of national importance that a clear and precise focus is applied to the testing of basic services in the United States." It is also clear that once the populace believes their is a problem their will be a problem. Think of the economic impact if everyone decides NOT to fly from December 1999 to February 2000. What will happen to the economies of Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Alaska without air travel? Need we even ask the fail safe status of missiles? The fail safe status of our electrical distribution complex? etc. etc. I have over 35 years of experience in the computer industry and would welcome the opportunity to be of assistance wherever and whenever the country mobilized to address the Y2K problem.

May 1998 Survey

Consultant/9: In my opinion the real problem is not the computer problem that may be identified and corrected but the problem that will occur from embedded systems and the computer problems that are not corrected. Planning for a contingency that includes lack of water and traffic lights not working (just to mention two items) which therefore dictates that employees will not be able to work in their respective buildings but also includes the possibility that they could not get their as well. The companies, especially the small ones, that rely on just in time inventory will not be able to receive new shipments in a timely manner. This will pyramid into chaos. The handling of the situation will depend on when it starts and when each important piece of the problem is solved. I would be glad to discuss this in more detail if it is appropriate.

Consultant/9: Although I realize that a "more detailed survey late this summer" will deal with Y2K impacts outside of the United States", my main concern for the past 3 years has been the fact that Nuclear Weapons Command and Contorl Systems (hardware & software) in China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and to a lesser extent in France, Israel, the United Kingdom, and the United States have not been completely debugged.

Russia has NOT even began to address the problem. The military infrastructure refuses to believe that a problem exists, the government does not have the necessary funding available nor the qualified personal to address the tasks. Authorities in both Pakistan and Iran refuse to belive a problem exists. China and India currently are unknowns. Therefore, the probability of accidental explosions of nuclear weapons remains very high.

Consultant/9: I must admit that "disaster"-related threads in the various Y2K discussion forums are beginning to have an effect on me and my thinking. The major reason why I would now select the rating "9" over "8" is the persistent notion that food/fuel supply lines for major urban areas have perhaps 10 days to two weeks before they go "dry". I believe that Y2K disruptions will endure more than 2 weeks. therefore, I have to select "9".

Consultant/9: My estimation remains steady, as a Federal Government contractor, I vote for a 9.

Consultant/9: Since the last survey I see very little additional ACTION but I do see additional awareness. Without a dramatic (exponential) increase in action on the part of business and government the outlook is not good.
It will be a shame if the legacy of the 20th Century is that when we needed statesmanship from our elected officials we got politics and scandal and when we needed leadership from the best and brightest business people we got avoidance, Mergers & Acquistions or silence (Gates,Grove). The words, "not with a bang but with a whimper" come to mind.
I must also add that my anger is rising. The American people at large do not understand the implications on them, on their jobs and families. It is time for elected officials at all levels and senior business management to hear the message that THEY ARE ACCOUNTABLE. Perhaps we need a lobbyist and a PR firm to get this message across since that is the way things work! It would be interesting to know if the frustration level is rising and also what people are doing about it other than moving to the hills.

Corporate/9: There is rampant worry and confusion regarding how Year 2000 will affect public utilities! No one seems to know, and certainly no one is accepting any responsibility for providing answers!!
Until we have a full UNDERSTANDING of what electric utility companies are doing (or not doing) about the Year 2000 problem, and the interdependencies of the so-called "power grid", we are just kidding ourselves if we think that we have ANY IDEA as to the magnitude of the Year 2000 problem.
I think that NOW is the time for the Federal Government to TAKE CHARGE of the utility companies, and ask the absolutely critical questions that need to be asked. And to then get ANSWERS, based on TESTING, as soon as possible, so at least contingency plans can be formulated, if needed. (Or, guarantee to everyone that there is no need to worry about it, as it is all under control.)
(A question: If ALL of the "power grid" went down, could ANY part of it come up? I.e., with the switch from analog to digital technology over the past years, does one need electricity to be able to generate electricity?)

Government/9: I fear there will be a supply/infrastructure collaspe with widespread disruptions leading to martial law for at least a short period of time. I predict that there will be a period after January 1, 2000, that some services, "leading one: lack of electricity", will affect some of the people. Later, as supplies/services run out, we will have a recognization period where there will be a honest to goodness concentrated effort led by the Federal government to correct the problem, here and abroad. The recogniztion period will be followed by the crisis period. There will be unbelief that this is possible in the U.S., finger pointing by politians. This will be followed by our "you don't need freedom now for the good of all" period under martial law. Once the supply infrastructure has been returned to "normal", we will have witness a giant shift in economic wealth to corporations that will become the leaders of tomorrow. This summation is based upon expert type articles that indicate a lack of serious effort to date at the government or corporate level.

Other/9: I have quit the Y2K business and have gotten active in the munions industry.

Other/9: One of the most important, long-reaching effects of Y2K will be to fundamentally alter the role of government in the world. The widespread failure of government computers will forcibly reduce reliance on government and increase the influence and state and local government entities. There will be a commensurate transfer of power from state to city and county governments. The centralized, large welfare model will be radically reengineered.

Vendor/9: I think WDCY2K is providing an incredible service in terms of raising public/private awareness of the horrific potential of Y2K problems. America will recover from the Y2K crises, with stronger IT systems and strategies in place, but the transition will be painful, and may bring out the worst in many people for the short term.

Vendor/9: Disasters will worsen over time due to our inability to prevent, stop, or reverse them. This snowball effect is similiar to the Y2K problem itself - lack of understanding and inability to prevent or stop in time, allows snowballing failure.


March 1998 Survey

Other/10: As one who spent an entire year working with Congress and the executive agencies on Y2K issues I have come face to face with complete irresponsibility and fecklessness in the US government. Federal agencies define "mission critical systems" as meeting their own payrolls, not the public's health, safety and well-being. Congress is unable to repair its own million+ lines of code, a direct indication of the paralysis of that institution which is unable to act even to preserve its own ADP capability. The so-called champions of Y2K in the Federal government agencies are mere sloganeers looking to surf on a wave. They believe that they can leap from this wave before it crashes like a tsunami on the beaches. In fact they can no more escape this on-rushing tide than the natives of Vesuvius could escape the volcano that covered their area in a matter of hours, burying it for 20 centuries under an ocean of lava. The Federal government seems poised to be buried as deeply and for as long as Pompeii and Hurrculeaneum. The waste of time during the last year by the Federals is as great a Folly as if the leaders detonated the nuclear weapons stock and unleashed the feared, horrific nuclear winter. Thanks to the Folly in 1997 millions of humans will suffer and die.

Other/10: We're just not ready, and we won't be. It's like "kinda pregnant". No, either you are or you're not. Same goes here, either the world will be ready or it won't.

May 1998 Survey

[No responses]


March 1998 Survey

Consultant/11: "11" is a cop out perhaps, but it has a formal meaning: The data leads to conflicting conclusions. It's *not* "don't know" or "no opinion". It might be considered a subset of "insufficient data", but I think it's more like "This does not compute!" (But 0, it's *not*.)

Other/NA: 1. Significant widespread impact for some enterprises (particularly those doing business in Asia and Eastern Europe). 2. Local impact for many enterprises. 3. Some market adjustment (15% - 20%, dropping initially but rebounding when the actual scope becomes clear); the biggest hit will come from international markets. 4. Some economic slowdown but no recession; this will be due as much to the incipient need for another major "correction" as to the actual Year 2000 problem. (In other words, it may happen anyway.) 5. The US government will be embarrassed, but -- in spite of the fantasies of certain parts of the political spectrum -- will NOT collapse. 6. Maybe a comet will be spotted heading for Earth. That way, Peter de Jager will still be able to shout, "The sky is falling....!" (Sorry -- couldn't resist.)

May 1998 Survey

Consultant/11: As in my response to the previous survey, 11 is a cheat, but I'll stick with it. It translates to "all bets are off". When significant factors are too close to call, and when they lead to seriously conflicting outcomes, I find putting things at any point on the scale to be unsupportable. The task is to develop a response that incorporates the conflicting possibilities.


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Copyright © 1998 Bruce F. Webster. All rights reserved.

Last updated 06/09/99.