Washington D.C. Year 2000 Group Survey Results




Copyright (c) 1999 Bruce F. Webster

Last revised 10 June 1999


A survey was sent via e-mail to the notification list of the Washington D.C. Year 2000 Group (over 2000 e-mail addresses) in February of 1999. The survey asked the recipients to predict the impact of the Year 2000 problem within the United States upon five different sectors—the economy, business, infrastructure, society, and government—on an escalating scale of 0 to 10, with definitions given for each value within a given sector. The respondents were also asked to identify their type of organization (government, corporate, military, etc.) from a given list, their primary Y2K activity, and the duration of their Y2K experience. The respondents could add optional comments. The survey was anonymous.

Over 340 responses came back in the period February—March, 1999, of which 337 provided usable data; 141 of those included comments. The responses divided roughly into two overlapping groups: an "optimistic" group, usually voting in the 2 ± 1 range, and a more "pessimistic" group voting in the 5 ± 2 range. A small "apocalyptic" contingent, about 15% of the total, voted in the 8-10 range. These results substantiate was has been observed informally, namely, that there are fundamental divisions of opinion among Y2K professionals, analysts, and observers. The comments made likewise reflect deep divisions, with some dismissing Y2K as a problem already solved and others describing organizations far behind in their Y2K efforts (and usually covering it up).

The three greatest points of consensus are: that the social impact will be modest (65% saw it in the 0-4 range); that the government is not as prepared as it claims to be (74% saw it in the 4-10 range); and that infrastructure (utilities, transportation, supply chain) will be impacted more broadly than is generally asserted (65% saw it in the 4-10 range). The overall response appears to be a bit more optimistic than the WDCY2K surveys conducted a year ago (March and May of 1998).

The Survey

On February 4, 1999, an e-mail message was sent out to the notification list of the Washington D.C. Year 2000 Group (WDCY2K). This list contained at that time over 2000 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: consultant/analyst/consulting firm; Y2K vendor of products, tools, or services; corporate/business; government; military; educational; organization/non-profit; legal; press; or other. They were also asked to identify their primary type of Y2K experience: hands-on remediation (assess, repair, test); Y2K remediation management, consulting, and/or planning; Y2K advocacy, analysis, and/or policy-making; oversight or interaction with the previous activities; government or community activist; interested/concerned bystander; or other. Finally, they were asked to specify the amount of their Y2K experience: 0-6 months; 6-12 months; 12-18 months; 18-24 months; 2-4 years; or 4+ years.

The survey then asked the recipients to estimate what they felt the impact of the Year 2000 problems would be within the United States for each of five sectors, using an explicit scale of 0 to 10:




Infrastructure and Utilities




Irrational exuberance; DJIA breaks 12,000 in 1Q2000

A lot of money spent, but improved quality and efficiency

Everything works just fine

New era of good feelings and optimism

Federal and state governments come out looking superhuman


Y2K’s impact on economy is lost in the noise

Some small to medium enterprises (SMEs) have Y2K problems

Some failures, but all caught quickly and handled well

No impact

No real problems or impact


Some market adjustments (stock index down 10%) but recovered within 6 months

Businesses are jolted a bit and scramble to recover; a few supply chain issues

A few short-lived (1-3 days) problems in certain areas; air traffic slowdown due to consumer caution

Y2K jokes in late night talk shows trigger an inadvertent panic or shortage

At least one state government runs into serious Y2K problems


Stocks down 20% and don’t recover until the end of 2000; growth flat through 2000

Businesses have Y2K ‘holidays’ during January to get things fixed

At least one regional brownout/blackout (2-3 days); most airlines scale back flights for Y2K

Surge in stockpiling at end of 1999; drop in consumer confidence and spending

Y2K issues dominate 2000 elections


Economy contracts 1% over 3 months; unemployment rises to 6%

Bankruptcy/acquisition of at least one Fortune 100 company due to Y2K problems (internal, supply chain, foreign, legal)

Transient interruptions in utilities (3-7 days); cutbacks for at least a week in various transportation systems

Isolated social incidents, including discover and prevention of militia-type terrorist plot timed to coincide with Y2K

At least one major gov’t agency (HCFA, IRS, FAA) requires that significant contingency plans go into effect


Mild recession (-2.5% over 6 months); unemployment rises to 8%

Major disruptions in production, processing of raw materials, supply chain, manufacturing

Scattered infrastructure & consumer supply problems lasting up to two weeks

Some population shifts to states and regions that appear to be better prepared, milder climates

HCFA not ready for Y2K; Federal government comes under criticism


Strong recession (-5% over 18 months); unemployment to 10%

Most businesses suffer Y2K impact; significant die-off in small to medium high-tech firms as funding, markets dry up

Urban infrastructure, supply problems lasting 2-4 weeks; lesser problems elsewhere; significant transportation disruption

Widescale stockpiling starts earlier in 1999; protests and isolated looting in some cities over Y2K weekend

IRS not ready for Y2K; Congress votes in flat tax, but deficit explodes due to reduced collections, increased social services


Severe recession (-7.5% over 2 years); unemployment to 15%

Widespread layoffs, cutbacks; one of the Big 3 auto mfgrs is acquired or collapses

Regional infrastructure, supply problems for 1-2 months; at least one major environmental disaster

"Peoples Needs" movement organizes community groups to distribute food, other necessities

Widespread gov’t problems; both parties blamed; centrist party arises and denies others a majority


Depression (-21% over 3 years); unemployment to 25%

Major meltdown, with massive consolidations and closings in manufacturing and production industries

Infrastructure, supply chain crippled for 3-6 months

Protests, riots in several large metropolitan areas; at least one foreign terrorist attack on US soil timed for Y2K

Curfews and/or martial law imposed in many large cities


Profound depression (-40% over 5 years); unemployment over 30%

Radical cutbacks, mergers, or failures of 50% of the Fortune 500 within 3 years; 80% of SMEs fail within 3 years

Collapse of infrastructure, supply chain (6-12 months)

Widespread social disruption, including internal terrorist from militia groups

Widespread but ineffective martial law; election in 2000 disrupted or cancelled; de facto seces-sion of at least one state


Collapse of economic system (currency, banking, financial mkts)

Collapse or radical transformation of most mid- to large-scale enterprises

Long term (>1 year) shutdown of infrastructure, supply chain

Social chaos

Radical downsizing, transformation, splintering, or collapse of the US government

Table 1. Levels of impact in the Spring 1999 WDCY2K survey.

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.

One month later, a follow-up message was sent, encouraging the recipients to respond to the survey. The survey was closed at the end of April. During that time, over 340 responses were received, 337 of which contained usable information and 141 of which contained comments.

Processing the Responses

The responses were received back as individual e-mails. These responses were tallied and placed into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. For consistency, accuracy, and ease of processing, some adjustments were made:

Cautions On Interpretation of Results

Before presenting the results of the survey, some cautions are 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 are not actual probabilities of the associated consequences. They are just the collective guesses of a particular group of people at a particular point in time (February-March of 1999), and the group is self-selected at that.

Beyond that, the levels of impact for different sectors (given in Table 1), while attempting to reflect possible Y2K consequences, remain somewhat arbitrary, occasionally uneven, and in some cases in danger of going out of date (e.g., recent assertions of progress by the Federal Government on HCFA). Some respondents expressed a wish to have been able to specify different or more finely tuned consequences. So we must be careful in putting too much weight on specific details of a given result.

What makes the following results of interest, however, is that these people for the most part work on or otherwise 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—how the actual work is going in the sectors given—that any other group of people one could assemble. In that light, these results—and the supporting comments volunteered by some of those surveyed, found in Appendix B—reflect as informed and broad-based an opinion on the subject as one is likely to get at this point in time.

Demographics of the Survey

Table 2 shows the breakdown of the respondents by category:

Table 2. Respondents to the Spring 1999 WDCY2K Survey, by category.

Consultants made up the largest group (a bit over one-third of the total), these were in most cases individuals working on government, military, and business Year 2000 projects.

Table 3 shows the breakdown by primary area of Y2K involvement:

Table 3. Respondents by primary area of Year 2000 involvement

These figures are biased towards management/consulting/planning and are somewhat misleading. Despite my request for a single, primary area of involvement, a number of respondents gave two or more areas. In such cases, I narrowed the response down to one area, usually favoring management/etc. I considered tracking multiple areas, but since most respondents had narrowed their response down to one area, that would have been even more inaccurate.

Finally, Table 4 shows the breakdown by amount of Year 2000 experience:

Table 4. Respondents by amount of Year 2000 experience.

Overall Results

Table 5 contains the complete responses to the survey, broken down by sector.

Table 5. Responses by sector of the Spring 1999 WDCY2K Survey.

Each row shows how the 337 respondents voted for the level of impact in each sector. For example, 3 respondents thought that Y2K’s level of impact on the U.S. economy would be Level 0 ("Irrational exuberance; DJIA hits 12,000 in 1Q2000"), while 6 respondents thought that it would be Level 10 ("Collapse of economic system (currency, banking, financial mkts)"). A graphical representation of the complete survey results can been seen in Figure 1 (below).

Figure 1. Distribution of survey results by sector.

What becomes immediately apparent is the division of opinions over Y2K’s impact. In four of the five sectors, there is a peak at Level 2, a sharp dropping off, and then a second peak at Levels 4 or 5, with a gradual tapering down to Level 10. The major exception is the Society sector, where there is a enormous spike at Level 3 (38% of the total respondents) and a very small second spike at Level 8. The minor exception is Government, which has three spikes: the largest at Level 4, a smaller one at Level 2, and the smallest at Level 8.

Impact of Y2K on the U.S. Economy

Table 6 shows the breakdown of responses for the impact of Y2K on the economy, giving the specific voting for each category of respondents and each level of impact:

Figure 2 shows the same results in graphical form:

Figure 2. Graphical representation of Table 6

Two peaks exist, one at Level 2 ± 1 and the other at Level 5 ± 1, with a trailing slope down to Level 10. This is a prime example of the overall pattern: about 46% of the respondents believe the impact will be in the 0..3 range, about 43% believe it will be in the 4..7 range, and about 11% believe it will be in the 8..10 range.

Impact of Y2K on U.S. Businesses

Table 7 shows the breakdown of responses for the impact of Y2K on U.S. businesses, giving the specific voting for each category of respondents and each level of impact:

Table 7. Responses for impact of Y2K on U.S. businesses.

Figure 3 shows the same results in graphical form:

Figure 3. Graphical representation of Table 7

The same "twin peaks" distribution appears: one tall peak centered at 2 and sloping sharply in both directions, and then a lower but broader peak, with the actual maximum at 4 but nearly as high at 5. This distribution is roughly the same, though with a bit more weight in the center: 41% in the 0..3 range, 51% in the 4..7 range, and only 9% in the 8..10 range.

Impact of Y2K on U.S. Infrastructure

Table 8 shows the breakdown of responses for the impact of Y2K on U.S. infrastructure (utilities, transportation, supply chain), giving the specific voting for each category of respondents and each level of impact:

Table 8. Responses for impact of Y2K on U.S. businesses.

Figure 4 shows the same results in graphical form:

Figure 4. Graphical representation of Table 8.

Again, we have the twin-peak distribution centered around Levels 2 and 5, but with an even greater shift towards the pessimistic side, with only 35% in the 0..3 range and 65% feeling the impact will be 4 or greater.

Y2K Impact on U.S. Society

Table 9 shows the breakdown of responses for U.S. social response to Y2K events and issues, giving the specific voting for each category of respondents and each level of impact:

Table 9. Responses for impact of Y2K on U.S. society

Figure 5 shows the same results in graphical form:

Figure 5. Graphical representation of Table 9.

While still giving a divided distribution, these results vary dramatically from the other four sectors. The range from 0..4 contains 67% of the total responses, with the peak at Level 3 containing 40% all by itself. Also different is that the second highest peak is at Level 8, with nearly one-fourth of the respondents believing that the social response will be in the 7..10 range.


Y2K Impact on Government

Table 10 shows the breakdown of responses for Y2K impact on U.S. government (Federal, state, local), giving the specific voting for each category of respondents and each level of impact:

Table 10. Response for impact of Y2K on government in U.S.

Figure 6 shows the same results in graphical form:

Figure 6. Graphical representation of Table 10.

Of all sectors, this comes the closest to an actual three-peak distribution, with peaks at Levels 2, 4, and 8. It is also has the sharpest divisions and the most pessimistic results of the five sectors, with nearly three-fourths (74%) believing the impact will be Level 4 or above.

Analysis and Observations

Here are some of the implications and observations based on these responses:

A similar, though much simpler survey was conducted with the WDCY2K membership in March of 1998 and again in May of 1998. In that survey, a single 0..10 scale was given and voted upon. The results were frankly more pessimistic, most likely reflecting all that was still unknown about the scope of Y2K, the general lack of awareness and concerns, and the amount of work that remained to be done at that time. This survey is more positive, but still carries—both in the votes and the comments (see Appendix B)—this caution: much remains to be done and some amount will not get done in time. If we recognize that and prepare for it, then we should weather Y2K’s impact just fine.

About the Washington D.C. Year 2000 Group

The Washington D.C. region represents a unique and critical confluence of major government, military, educational, financial, technical, policy, and business organizations. All these enterprises have the potential to be heavily impacted by the Year 2000 issue; in many cases, that impact could ripple out through the rest of the country and even through the world.

The purpose of the WDCY2K Group is to bring together the leaders and decision makers from those groups who have Year 2000 responsibility or who are in a position to influence public and private policy on Y2K, so that we can share insights, problems and solutions. It is not a trade show, conference, or vendor exhibition, nor is it a commercial organization. The Fannie Mae Corporation sponsors it as a service to industry and government.

The first meeting of the WDCY2K was held on June 22nd, 1997, in the Great Hall at Fannie Mae's corporate headquarters in Washington D.C. The turnout was strong: over 90 people representing corporations, federal and state governments, the US military, technical organizations, and Year 2000 consultants and vendors. Attendance has grown significantly at subsequent meetings and has been reaching near capacity (well over 300 attendees) since spring of 1998. It is the largest, most active, and best known Y2K group in the world, with over 2000 members. Its monthly attendance exceeds that of most commercial Y2K conferences, and it regularly draws attendees from the Administration, Congress, the Pentagon, and various think-tanks and educational institutions. Corporate representatives come not just from the Washington DC area but from cities as far away as New York, Boston, Tulsa, and Chicago. The WDCY2K Group has become known worldwide in the Y2K community and has been cited in published articles and televised news reports.

To get on the WDCY2K notification list, send e-mail to info@wdcy2k.org; be sure to put the e-mail contact address in the body of the message, since the e-mail address in the header isn’t always usable. For other information, visit the WDCY2K web site at http://www.wdcy2k.org or contact Bruce Webster at bruce_webster@wdcy2k.org or 202.256.1279.

About the Author

Bruce F. Webster has become an internationally recognized authority on the Year 2000 crisis. He has provided analysis and documents on the Y2K issue to Senate and House committees and has testified three separate times before Congress. He has given a presentation on Y2K contingency planning to US intelligence agencies; he was the keynote speaker for a private Y2K conference held at the World Bank; and he was an invited speaker at the Middle East Year 2000 Conference held in Lebanon. He has given Y2K briefings to representatives of other nations at the invitation of the US government. He has been an invited guest on "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" (PBS) and "@ Issue" (MS-NBC), interviewed for an upcoming Y2K special on ABC ("Y2K: World in Crisis?") as well as for NBC and CBN News, televised on C-SPAN, written about in Newsweek, and cited in Barron's, National Journal, Datamation, American Banker, the Chicago Tribune, and a ever-growing range of radio, magazine, and newspaper stories. Webster also is author of The Y2K Survival Guide: Getting To, Getting Through, and Getting Past the Year 2000 Problem (Prentice Hall, 1999, ISBN 0-13-021496-5).

Appendix A: Text of Year 2000 Impact Survey

Below is the complete text (with typos) of the e-mail sent out to the WDCY2K notification list on February 4, 1999. At the time this went out, the notification list had over 2000 e-mail addresses on it.

Date: Thu, 4 Feb 1999 11:11:09 -0500

From: wdcY2K@fanniemae.com (Year 2000 Development OTH)

To: wdcY2K@psysadm01

Subject: Survey

X-Sun-Charset: US-ASCII

To the WDCY2K Group:

A little less than a year ago, I surveyed the group on what you felt the impact of Y2K would be in the United States, once in March and again in May. The results of that survey are on-line at the web site and also form Appendix B of my book _The Y2K Survival Guide_.

I would now like to do a new survey, with some changes based on your feedback. As before, the survey will be anonymous; all responses should go to survey@wdcY2K.org.

We will again use a 0..10 scale, but it will broken into separate areas (economy, business, infrastructure/supply chain, society, government). That way, you can independently set the impact in each area. As before, this will be just for impact within the United States, and as before you are encouraged to submit supporting comments.



Please complete all parts. The easiest thing is to copy the section below into a new e-mail message, delete all but the actual choices, add your comments, and [IMPORTANT] send the e-mail to survey@wdcY2K.org.




CATEGORY (pick one; delete the rest):

Consultant/analyst/consulting firm

Y2K product/tool/services vendor


Government (national/state/local)






Other (describe):


TYPE OF Y2K EXPERIENCE (pick the major one; delete the rest)

Hands-on Y2K remediation (assess, repair, test)

Y2K remediation management/consulting/planning

Y2K advocacy/analysis/policy

Oversight of or interaction with the above

Government/community activist

Interested/concerned bystander

Other (describe):


AMOUNT OF Y2K EXPERIENCE (pick one; delete the rest)

0-6 months

6-12 months

12-18 months

18-24 months

2-4 years

4+ years



For each of the areas below, pick the level that comes the closest to your estimation of the impact. Note that each level includes any negative Y2K consequences in the previous levels, that is, level 5 includes the problems in levels 0 through 4 as well.


IMPACT ON THE ECONOMY (pick one; delete the rest)

0: Irrational exuberance; DJIA breaks 12,000 in 1Q2000

1: Y2K's impact on economy is lost in the noise

2: Some market adjustments (stock indexes down 10%) but recovered within 6 months

3: Stocks down 20% and don't recover until end of 2000; growth flat during 2000

4: Economy contracts 1% over 3 months; unemployment rises to 6%

5: Mild recession (-2.5% over 6 months); unemployment rises to 8%

6: Strong recession (-5% over 18 months); unemployment to 10%

7: Severe recession (-7.5% over 2 years); unemployment to 15%

8: Depression (-21% over 3 years); unemployment to 25%

9: Profound depression (-40% over 5 years); unemployment over 30%

10: Collapse of economic systems (currency, banking, financial mkts)


IMPACT ON BUSINESS (pick one; delete the rest)

0: A lot of money spent, but improved quality and efficiency

1: Some small to medium enterprises (SMEs) have Y2K problems

2: Business are jolted a bit and scramble to recover; a few supply chain issues

3: Business have "Y2K holidays" during January to get things fixed

4: Bankruptcy/acquisition of at least one Fortune 100 company due to Y2K problems (internal, supply chain, foreign impact, legal)

5: Major disruptions in production and processing of raw materials, as well as manufacturing and the supply chain

6: Most businesses suffer Y2K impact; significant die-off in small to medium high-tech firms as funding, markets dry up.

7: Widespread layoffs, cutbacks; one of the Big 3 auto manufacturers is acquired or collapses

8: Major meltdown, with massive consolodations and closings in manufacturing and production industries

9: Radical cutbacks, mergers, or failures of 50% of the Fortune 500 within 3 years; 80% of SMEs fail within 3 years

10: Collapse or radical transformation of most mid- to large-scale enterprises


IMPACT ON INFRASTRUCTURE/UTILTIES (pick one; delete the rest)

0: Everything works just fine

1: Some failures, but all caught quickly and handled well

2: A few short-lived (1-3 days) problems in certain areas; air traffic slowdown on Y2K weekend due to consumer caution

3: At least one regional brownout/blackout (2-3 days); most airlines scale back flights for Y2K weekend

4: Transient interruptions in utilities (3-7 days); cutbacks for at least a week in various transportation systems

5: Scattered infrastructure/consumer supply problems lasting up to two weeks

6: Urban infrastructure/supply problems lasting 2-4 weeks, with lesser problems elsewhere; significant transportation disruptions

7: Regional infrastructure/supply problems for 1-2 months; at least one major environmental disaster due to Y2K

8: Infrstructure/supply chain crippled for 3-6 months

9: Collapse of infrastructure/supply chain (6-12 months)

10: Long term (>1 year) shutdown of infrastructure/supply chain


SOCIAL RESPONSE TO Y2K (pick one; delete the rest)

0: New era of good feelings and optimism

1: No impact

2: Y2K jokes in late night talk shows, with at least one such joke triggering an inadvertant panic/shortage

3: Surge in stockpiling at end of 1999; drop in consumer confidence and spending

4: Isolated social incidents, including discovery (and prevention)of a militia-type terrorist plot timed to coincide with Y2K

5: Some population shifts to states and regions that appear to be better prepared and have milder climates

6: Widescale stockpiling starts earlier in 1999; protests and isolated looting in some cites over Y2K weekend

7: "Peoples Needs" movement organizes community groups to distribute food, other necessities

8: Protests and riots in several large metropolitan areas; at least one foreign terrorist attack on US soil timed for Y2K

9: Widespread social disruption, including internal terrorism from militia groups

10: Social chaos


GOVERNMENT RESPONSE/IMPACT (pick one; delete the rest)

0: Federal and state governments come out looking superhuman

1: No real problems or impact

2: At least one state government runs into serious Y2K problems

3: Y2K issue dominates 2000 elections

4: At least one major gov't agency (HCFA, IRS, FAA) requires that significant contingency plans go into effect

5: HCFA not ready for Y2K; Federal government comes under criticism

6: IRS not ready for Y2K; Congress votes in flat tax, but deficit explodes due to reduced collections, increased social services

7: Widespread gov't problems; both parties blamed; centrist party arises and captures enough seats to deny others a majority

8: Curfews and/or martial law imposed in many large cities

9: Widespread but ineffective martial law; election in 2000 disrupted or cancelled; de facto succession of at least one state

10: Radical downsizing, transformation, splintering, or collapse of the US government



If you want to, you can submit comments (please be concise) on any or all of the following:

-- Any disconnect that you personally know of between how your organization is doing on Y2K repairs and preparation and what it's reporting

-- What you think will happen in the 12-month arc from July 1999 to June 2000

-- Any unexpected or unanticipated Y2K events and consequences that you think might occur

-- Any "wild card/out of the blue" (cf. John Petersen's book) events that you think might impact our dealing with Y2K one way or the other


Thanks! ..bruce..

On March 9, 1999, a second e-mail was sent out, making a "last call" for survey results and allowing those who had previously submitted responses to send updated ones in light of the release of the interim report of the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem on March 2, as well as the testimony before that same committee in hearing on March 5 about Y2K problems in the rest of the world. A small number of previous respondents did submit updates, and their old responses were deleted. About 200 had responded before the "last call" and another 140 or so responded afterwards. No responses were received after the end of March, 1999.

Appendix B: Comments from Survey Respondents

In the survey, the respondents were given the option of including anonymous comments to explain their answer or otherwise make observations on the Year 2000 issue. The following four possible topics for comments were suggested to the respondents:

In some cases, these were copied into the comments. Rather than repeat them in full when they appear, I’ve edited them down to brief forms (Discrepancies?, What will happen?, Unexpected events?, Wild cards?).

The comments are ordered roughly from most optimistic to least, using a simply value: the sum of the five sector levels. Each comment is preceded by the category, primary Y2K responsibility, extend of Y2K experience, and actual votes of the person making the comment. Some reformatting has been done for purposes of minimizing document length, and spelling and grammar have generally been corrected.

Business, oversight/interaction, 24-48 months (1,2,1,1,1):



What will happen?

Public silliness until June than it will all be a non-issue. Y2K as a business/computer problem is over today: 2/4/1999.

Unexpected or unanticipated events?

Remediation finishes long before anyone thought it was possible except in gov't. Some contractors will be sued. One will be indicted for criminal fraud. Other contractors who over-hyped the embedded systems will return to parking cars or selling them.

Wild cards?

It happened already—the fear monger driven by North/Yourdon and their spores.

Organization/non-profit, oversight/interaction, 48+ months (1,2,1,2,1):

All I can say is that thank God the Internet and the Web has become a broadly used and accepted part of our cultures because I do not think the amount of information, solution sharing, hand-holding, mutual support and collaboration, never mind reuse and leveraging others work, could have been done any other way. Even with all of this leveraging and sharing Y2K is hard. Think what it would have been without it.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 18-24 months (2,1,1,2,1):

What will happen?

Very little should happen. Forward-looking organizations will use this opportunity to improve systems.

Other, hands-on remediation, 48+ months (1,1,1,2,2):

There are too many systems and it won't be possible to fix everything in time. However, "nuisance" issues will be the norm and everyday problems that normally get PR will be quickly diagnosed and misreported as Y2K issues.

Much of the hysteria that we see on this issue can be attributed to technology anxiety and fear of large organizations and government cover-ups. The tendency to NOT believe bearers of "Good News" concerning Y2K issues is a concern that cuts to the core of our society and has nothing to do with Y2K. Many seemingly rationale, educated professionals have gotten catch up in the Y2K madness by forgetting how things/systems/processes actually work in real life and have focused on out-of-date, misinformation and manufactured stories not based on facts.

Corporate/business, management/consulting/planning, 12-18 months (1,1,2,1,2):

Organization has a large system and many resources engaged in Y2K program. Organization is overly concerned with potential lawsuits and has hired Y2K consultants who favor their own employment rather the welfare of the corporation.

Corporate/business, oversight/interaction, 48+ months (0,1,2,2,2):

I have always felt and still do that Y2K is a design flaw, and a intentional one at that. People who made the first computer, IBM, etc., knew that the day was coming in a short 20 years when the date would be 2000, it was only Apple Computer that made all of their system software and computers Y2K ready from the concept. I think that the rest should be forced to pay a fee for screwing up the world just like the tobacco companies are being forced to do. People that attempt to scare the general population with this bull should serve time in jail. Fix whatever is flawed and quit whining.

Consultant/analyst, advocacy/analysis/policy, 12-18 months (1,2,2,1,2):

By and large North America will be fine. Europe, Asia and South America are "Wild Cards"

Historically a prosperous decade is followed by a turbulent decade, e.g., 1920s/1930s and 1950s/1960s. If the turbulence starts on a specific date, such as the 1929 crash or the Cuban Missile crisis, and this date is close to Jan 2000, we will be especially vulnerable.

Corporate/business, management/consulting/planning, 12-18 months (2,2,2,1,1):

This survey is worthless. The responses that are offered in each category are much too specific. It would be much more meaningful to ask a general question ("What will be the impact on public utilities?"), with responses of 1 through 10, 1 being least impact, 10 being greatest impact. When you attach specific scenarios to each of the responses ("discovery (and prevention) of a militia-type terrorist plot timed to coincide with Y2K") it makes it far more difficult to respond.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 24-48 months (1,3,2,1,2):


None at all.

What will happen?

Media will blame Y2K for many problems that may not be accurate (surprise) and crunch of Y2K changes will result in vendor supply problems causing user nervousness. Users will choose manual procedures vice equipment replacement wherever possible.

Unexpected Y2K events?

Users are much more aware of their dependence on and vulnerability of IT support. (2) Contingency planning has given some a new, downgraded expectations of IT systems and continued need for finding alternatives when IT fails. (3) The most positive reaction is a more demanding customer for quality products and vendor accountability (not necessarily liability). That is, they now see that they can be effective in influencing vendor actions, not unlike reactions to the recent tobacco suit. I would expect more issues to arise from users and businesses rather than emanating from government and industry sources; issues include copyrights, e-commerce, security, etc.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 6-12 months (2,1,2,2,2):


My client is placing a lot of faith in the providers of some critical systems rather than conducting their own roll-date testing.

What will happen?

New application development will stagnate due to budgets being spent on Y2K and fear of introducing new variables into the equation

Unexpected events?

Lack of confidence in the banking and financial markets will cause some minor "runs" on financial institutions as people hoard hard currency in the days prior to the new millennium.

Wild cards?

The focus on Y2K provides an opportunity for terrorists to disrupt normal activity.

Government, oversight/interaction, 18-24 months (2,2,1,2,2):


There is no real disconnect between what we know and what we report, but there is a strong difference between what we report and what the media and the Congress choose to pass on. This concerns me, because their persistent criticism could be a self-fulfilling prophecy in terms of public over-reaction.

Unexpected events?

I don't think enough attention has been paid to other countries, particularly France, Japan and Russia and their respective lack of preparation. Concern that their troubles will be blamed on us.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 24-48 months (2,2,1,3,2):

Miscommunication and bad information could be an issue and produce some minor self-fulfilling problems. IT impact here in the US will amount to various inconveniences with some billing, state and local services. May be good opportunity to pick up a few good deals in the stock market for those with cash reserve. Overall, a non-event here in the US due to most major US Federal, commercial and utility systems working.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 24-48 months (2,2,2,3,2):

I think the answers could be better structured. In each area I would probably answer with a three to four on a scale of ten but your answers at these levels are not reflective of what I expect to be the impact. As an example, I would not be surprised to see the stock market drop 20-25 percent but I also expect recovery within six months.

As a country, we are much more sufficient and less dependent on foreign supply sources than answers reflect. As such, I expect the US economy to feel marginal impact on the supply chain. However, the public's perception will be much more important - the likelihood of panic runs on items could be significant (especially toward the end of 1999). I give a run on banks a medium probability.

The Federal Government remains a large unknown. Having seen how the OMB reporting structure has been handled does not give one a great sense of confidence. The government’s dependency on legacy systems could result in significant delays in receiving checks, processing information, updates, etc. One positive thought is that government is used to dealing with large numbers of categorized individuals. Therefore, the magnitude of a system failure will impact a large section of the population and hopefully bring priority attention for work-arounds. As you stated in a recent article, programs almost always have bugs and programmers/sysops usually find a work around until a permanent solution can be found. In summary, I expect both the Federal and state governments to have some significant failures but with the resourcefulness of the American worker, a work around will develop fairly quickly. It may require augmentation from industry with additional programmers.

The biggest uncertainty will be the impact of the press on the average American's perception of the Y2K problem. If the press raises the emotional level so that panic sets in, we could be in for a real calamity - especially with the average American's distrust of government.

Corporate/business, management/consulting/planning, 18-24 months (2,2,2,3,2):

The President will announce a wage and price freeze to go into effect from July 1, 1999 through June 30, 2000. Companies will have to develop and run programs to analyze sales data for the period from October 1, 1998 through March 31, 1999 to determine the prices that they can charge during the frozen period (Reminiscent of the 70's? You bet - I had to do this very thing!). Bank withdrawals will be limited in the same fashion so a person won't be allowed to take out more at one time than they normally do. There may even be a rationing plan invoked to prevent hoarding of essential food, paper and drug supplies. There will be substantial unease but the plan will work to stabilize the citizenry and prevent anarchy.

Corporate/business, management/consulting/planning, 6-12 months (2,2,2,2,3):


Work is complete and 100% confident in handling any Y2K problem.

What will happen?

Smooth sailing

Unexpected events?

Overreaction from the press.

Wild cards?

Nothing we can't handle. Humanity can adjust to anything thrown at them!

Consultant/analyst, hands-on remediation, 12-18 months (2,2,2,3,4):

I have been inundated with companies that want me to advise and consult for the Y2K problem. I have not been given straight answers from any companies that supposedly are experts in the problem. I have a consulting office within a law firm, most of the lawyers in this area, (Central New York State, Syracuse) are not sure what to do. They have been in the same boat as I, as far as gathering hard information on their own systems. Simple questions like, Is Win98 ready? Is Wordperfect8 Suite ready? Most have a plan to go to pad and pencil if there really is a problem.

Corporate/business, hands-on remediation, 18-24 months (2,2,3,2,4):

What will happen?

Greater and greater level of awareness by consumers and small businesses resulting in a scramble for some form of assistance to remediate their systems.

Unexpected events?

Computer hacking escalates and potentially causing disruptions - all blamed on Y2K. Offshore businesses will be more heavily impacted than those in the U.S.

Wild cards?

Terrorists seize the opportunity to strike targets around the world.

Organization/non-profit, management/consulting/planning, 24-48 months (2,3,3,1,4):

Contrary to the survivalist notion that we're all helpless victims of a large, incomprehensible machine that's about to break down, the salient fact is that Y2K affects places of work. People still do the work; the machines affected by Y2K are their tools. All these people depend on their tools for their living; are they likely to stand idly by while their livelihoods go down the drain? No, they know their tools and are used to maintaining them and improvising work-arounds. Just watch--common sense will do marvelous things yet!

Consultant/analyst, oversight/interaction, 24-48 months (2,2,3,3,4):

Y2K issues spur economic growth

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 12-18 months (2,2,3,3,4):

As many have already noted, Y2K related issues are hitting us now. The recent example of the problems at the PA nuclear power plant which was undergoing testing is a timely example. In some ways the next 9 months are as scary as 1/1/2000 since many organizations will be testing systems (some in live conditions) between now and the end of the year. We all know how smooth system testing goes!

I'm an optimist at heart and I think our economy and nature will help us deal with this challenge. While I expect some significant infrastructure problems, I think they'll be resolved in reasonable time frames (1-3 days). It would be prudent to plan for some home and business contingencies for heat, water, and food, etc. for these short duration problems. Other countries due to economic and infrastructure limitations will be hit harder than the U.S. I am also more concerned for Europe since it has been preoccupied with the Euro conversion.

Business should continue to remediate their Y2K problems. Businesses and the public should plan for some basic contingencies for the short but likely disruptions in supplies, utilities, etc. Only gamblers or those without a choice will be on planes, elevators, or surgical tables on 1/1/2000. I plan on being home in front of the fire.

Government, oversight/interaction, 18-24 months (2,2,3,3,4):

Project has been micro-managed in Federal Government by oversight officials making it difficult for Y2K project managers to focus on actual problems and realistic solutions.

Military, government/community activist, 6-12 months (2,2,3,3,4):


I think DOD will have a "few" minor spikes, but nothing the legion of personnel and contractors will not be able to handle.

What will happen?

I feel that after Labor Day and the news flashes on how things on 9/9/99 went, people will start their contingency planning then. This will be the first "magical date" to the government, medical, supply-chain, banking, utilities and transportation. 9/9/99 will be the day the "rubber" hits the road for the average "Joe" and the above categories will have 113 days to go till our millennium exam.

Unexpected events?

Politics! The coneheads and wonks are going to have a field day with the outcome whether it is good or bad. As with the Y2K meeting that featured the Y2K czar and Joel Willemssen of GAO, Civilian Agencies, you can already see that the "issue" is already being framed. Even the smallest incident is going to yield finger pointing, and a lot of them will be pointed at Gore, a true test "by fire". This will show his character and if he's capable of going "bare knuckles" and turn the issue back on the GOP as his boss has done countless times.

Then there is the media, how will they fan the flames of the "technology challenged". And how will the criminal element plan for this event?

Wild cards?

Abacuses may become popular.

Y2K tools/services vendor, oversight/interaction, 24-48 months (1,2,2,3,6):

Just a general comment that I saw a commentary on "60 Minutes" by a renowned computer scientist from MIT that in the end, no one can predict what will really happen on 1/1/2000 because there is no way simulate that worldwide...I strongly agree and that is the part that really scares me.

Government, management/consulting/planning, 24-48 months (3,2,3,3,4):


Reporting and requests for money exaggerate the problem.

What will happen?

Solid and realistic work to ensure a lack of problems

Unexpected events?

A LOT of overtime pay

Wild cards?

Anticipated problems in large cities of South/Central America leading to increased immigration.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 0-6 months (2,2,5,3,4):

This type of pulse taking will be increasingly necessary as the 'event horizon' approaches. Managing public perceptions in multiple scenarios to prevent a self-fulfilling prophecy is as critical as actual Y2K readiness and contingency planning.

Consultant/analyst, hands-on remediation, 12-18 months (2,4,3,3,4):

I believe that our federal and state governments will have to suspend exchange of data with several foreign countries, some major, until they can provide substantive proof of compliance and certification with U.S. date standards.

Consultant/analyst, oversight/interaction, 12-18 months (2,3,4,3,4):

Unexpected events?

The WSJ ran an interesting article pointing out that the drug companies are concerned about stockpiling prescription drugs and their inability to keep up with legitimate demand if that happens.

Corporate/business, management/consulting/planning, 18-24 months (3,2,3,4,4):

Supply chain issues will catch many companies by surprise later in 2000 when the awareness and vigilance has started to lapse.

Organization/non-profit, hands-on remediation, 24-48 months (5,3,3,3,2):

What will happen?

Reduced non-Y2K related IS activities during entire period. Stockpiling of supplies in 99Q4, reduced resupply in 00Q1. This will have some impact on the economy.

Organization/non-profit, advocacy/analysis/policy, 48+ months (3,2,5,3,3):

Unexpected events?

I keep thinking we are missing something fundamental. I cannot account for some tens of millions of embedded systems, and international progress is tentative. The telecommunications network is not really fully covered. Too many organizations will not complete their programs - at their present pace. Not enough of organizations' budgets for Y2K have been spent. I think this means they are not moving fast enough.

Consultant/analyst, advocacy/analysis/policy, 6-12 months (2,4,4,3,4):

Substantial problems caused by errant data being passed from less-well prepared, typically smaller, organizations across organizational data interfaces. Downstream systems break, so there is downtime to fix them.

Other downstream systems continue to run, but with faulty input data from upstream data partners, errors are sometimes caught soon because of diligence on the part of the downstream partner, sometimes errors are not caught for some time, particularly those that are detrimental to the downstream partner.

Consultant/analyst/consulting firm, hands-on remediation, 6-12 months (2,4,3,5,4):

Unexpected events?

The press has reported that many foreign governments, militaries, and private organizations are not addressing potential Y2K issues with the same sense of urgency as most U.S. organizations. I am concerned about ripple effects that may have serious impacts on our economy, lifestyle, and quality of life here in the U.S., as a result of the Y2K-related problems that will likely occur beyond our country's borders.

Consultant/analyst, advocacy/analysis/policy, 6-12 months (4,3,5,3,2):

Unexpected events?

I think the impact of Y2K disruptions in other countries on the US economy is being underestimated.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 24-48 months (3,2,5,3,4):

What will happen?

Stocks go down, gold goes up, panic among investors and holders of mutual funds.

Unexpected events?

Secondary effects will be the big killers. The effects on people and many supply chain businesses that will go under, then scramble to reconstitute. IT Darwinism we call it.

Consultant/analyst, hands-on remediation, 12-18 months (2,2,3,2,8):

I expect that the Federal government will use Y2K as a pretext for imposing martial law. Clinton will run for re-election (Constitutional amendments, electoral votes, etc. will materialize as needed to make this possible).

Government, management/consulting/planning, 48+ months (4,3,3,3,4):


Despite the fact that we are in February 1999, some offices are just now beginning to take Y2K as something worthy of management's attention. In very deep denial because management just want Y2K to "go away." Some offices are in the beginning stages of assessment. Of course, we are reporting that we are 'clean and green' - as the politicians require us to report.

What will happen?

Beginning in Nov 99 or so, there will be a massive amount of storing up of foodstuffs & non-perishables. Massive buying of gas operated power generators, wood stoves, etc - in anticipation of utility outages & supply chain problems. Offices expecting to replace microcomputers in the Oct 99 to Dec 99 timeframe will be out of luck as all vendors will be backordered & unable to produce enough to satisfy market demand. This will cause some real problems for those organizations that thought they could delay the purchases until the last minute. Based on my experience, I expect at least 10% of all small businesses to go out of business due to the failure of critical business systems. It isn't going to be pretty, but the strong (and prepared) will survive.

Unexpected events?

How about numerous supertanker groundings & hazmat spills (possibly causing major fires & shutting down busy ports) due to automated navigational systems being dead-in-the-water? How about Russia attacks everything in sight because all of their automated "fire back" systems are blasting "we are under attack" signals to all the wrong people?

Wild cards?

We will have people in denial until 12/31/99 - 11:59PM.

Military, oversight/interaction, 48 – 96 months (2,4,3,4,4):

Even though it has moderate contingency plans, this organization is very dependent upon trusting vendor statements about its COTS hardware and software Y2K compliance. Neither manpower nor effort is being set aside for actual testing to verify these statements.

Other, advocacy/analysis/policy, 0-6 months (2,3,5,3,4):

I still feel this is an event with too little hard technical and economic analysis to permit a reasonable best estimate of likely consequences. The technical people I have heard or read don't seem to understand business or economics or behavior; they largely seem to assume people will stand still in the face of crises. The business types don't seem to understand how embedded technology has become in most businesses, and the economists don't quite know how to approach the problem (By analogy, e.g. the energy crises? e.g. Yardeni of Deutsche Bank Securities; by assuming smart people will avoid it? e.g. Kerscher of Paine Webber). Anecdotal evidence: power failure in New Zealand, last years long distance telephone failure, etc. only give a very incomplete sense of what might happen.

Does a technical failure of software or hardware mean a service failure of any duration or consequence, given that there is likely to be furious efforts to correct any serious disruptions? A power outage of a few hours is an inconvenience (e.g. an ice storm), of several months could cause some business failures (e.g. New Zealand), but is that likely? Presumably any power company worth its salt will be working furiously to restore production and distribution. Similarly, I can't envision companies not responding fairly fast to supply chain problems. Wal Mart might end up with poorer inventory control, but presumably Kimberly Clark will continue to ship Kleenex to them.

Y2K tools/services vendor, hands-on remediation, 24-48 months (3,4,3,3,4):

In my role as independent Y2K verification test director (and hands on tester) I have observed a number of Y2K non-compliances in both COTS and custom applications that were deemed as Y2K compliant. I have not had experience in the area of embedded systems; however, because of my experience in non-embedded systems, I am pessimistic about the embedded ones and their affect on the American economy.

My other concern is in the area of trade and its impact upon the American economy. Even if America solves its Y2K problem, the Y2K problems that will exist with our trading partners will have a negative impact upon the American economy. This impact will begin at a low level and gradually increase throughout the year 2000.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 6-12 months (4,3,3,4,4):

Scary thing the other day, while checking a new piece of software and it has a calendar function. You can pick a date from a calendar, enter a date with a four-digit year or enter with a two-digit year. Typed in 00 for year and got 1900, seems to be a problem way down in the software language used to write the code. So even the newest applications are not immune.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 18-24 months (2,4,2,6,4):


Not enough business initiative

What will happen?

Increased fear, especially near the year-end (shortage of can openers in December). Getting closer to God; increase prayer and more salvations.

In 1999, economy peaks as increase goods are manufactured and more money spent in economy (except for emergency cash at home). However, in 2000 emotion will send stocks down and could trigger brief recession as people overreact with negative Y2K news.

Corporate/business, advocacy/analysis/policy, 12-18 months (2,4,5,3,4):

I fear that some Y2K predictions will become self-fulfilling. I see no need for panic; yet some people probably will panic. I believe that much of the Y2K issue itself has been hyped, exaggerated and promoted in an effort to generate business, primarily for consultants and lawyers (two of the lowest links on the food chain). Technology will not be our salvation, nor our demise. We have to realize that it is a tool - a means to an end - and quit relying on it to "solve" our difficulties. It merely makes our lives easier - it doesn't live them for us.

Corporate/business, oversight/interaction, 6-12 months (2,6,5,3,2):


During DoDIG [Department of Defense Inspector General] Y2K audit, it became apparent that definitions were so vague that reporting is probably best rather than worst case. Federal agency I work for changed items from "mission critical" to "mission essential" so as to buy an additional 3 months to bring systems into compliance. DoD has promised purchase of software testing tools, but has yet to deliver on it.

What will happen?

Things that are being focused on will be fine. Problems will occur in the areas that have been overlooked. Y2K remediation is not being "engineered" as much as reacted to. Because there is no systematic thought going into system remediation, I suspect that the devil will lie in the details.

Educational, advocacy/analysis/policy, 24-48 months (3,3,3,4,5)

The problems that arrive on 1/1/2000 and the length of the aftermath is dependent on the emergence of positive leadership during the next 6 months, the amount of honest information (not spin) that is distributed to the population as a whole, and legislation that effectively puts the tort bar on the sideline.

Government, management/consulting/planning, 24-48 months (4,4,3,3,4):

Unexpected events?

Many contingency plans are still focused on single event failures and do not consider multiple, simultaneous failures. As a result many contingency plans are manpower intensive. Manpower resources may be insufficient to handle multiple, simultaneous failures resulting in inability to fully implement contingency plans and subsequent service outages. Manpower resources may be insufficient to sustain operations in a 'contingency' mode for an extended period of time until the systems can be 'repaired'.

Military, oversight/interaction, 18-24 months (3,5,5,3,2):

What will happen?

The effect on the US of the world economy and social needs will be more profound than expected. The countries that are not prepared include most of the world's energy (Oil & Gas) exporters and disruptions in these supplies coupled with shortage panic buying, stockpiling and hoarding will produce a 1970's energy shortage (actual and exacerbated by perception) that will profoundly affect the US. Europe is especially vulnerable to loss of basic heating supplies. These effects on world and US economy will be large and take months/years to bring back to stable.

The Millennium effect on world population is an effect that has historical precedent. In the year 1000 experience many people in Europe thought it was the end of the world and did not plant crops resulting in several years of famine. France was the country that best coped with this event resulting in several centuries of French world leadership (see Dr. Richard Landes of Boston U's Center for Millennial Studies work). Societal impact in our modern "InfoAge" takes the form of (one example) an estimated 140+ computer virus (bombs) aimed at the Windows operating system. Such viruses range from having the "dancing baby" appear on the infected machines on 00:00 1/1/2000 to possibly destructive code. We will get to see other inventive and some ingenious celebratory events. Certainly some will be classed as destructive (terrorist) events.

Government agencies must lead the public in knowing what is going on so as to prevent fear as much as possible. This requires full disclosure of what is known and expected. It requires giving advice on how to avoid problems and above all an assertive confidence that is a builder of confidence and calm.


Consultant/analyst, interested/concerned bystander, 0-6 months (3,3,5,4,4):

What will happen?

I think the mass media can be counted on to exacerbate inevitable social and political impacts by using growing public concern over the Y2K problem as a platform to hype the more catastrophic scenarios being discussed and by opting to highlight (as is its usual practice) the more eccentric advocates of such scenarios.

Consultant/analyst, oversight/analysis/planning, 6-12 months (2,4,3,5,5):

I think there’ll be mainly finger pointing when things go wrong, rather than any recognition of a better way to do it.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 12-18 months (4,4,4,3,4):

I plan to acquire and know persons who have already acquired chip-free electric generators. I plan to stockpile non-perishable food starting in June. I plan to stockpile bottled water starting August. I will have three extra cords of firewood. And I will read all the classics during any brownouts.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 24-48 months (1,3,4,7,4):



What will happen?

Increasing amount of Y2K hits. Most handled in contingency mode. Bell shaped curve around January for hits.

Unexpected events?

Millennialists will lead a resurgence in fundamentalist religion.

Wild cards?

We'll have the 'hang together in an emergency' effect in a lot of places. One major hang-up will be in commuting with most of the traffic lights out.

Government, management/consulting/planning, 12-18 months (3,4,4,3,5):

Religious fanaticism and growth of splinter groups predicting the end of the world will cause unrest as more central groups are uneasy over how fanatics will handle Y2K weekend. General fear of the unknown and how other people will react to the unknown - we should fear fear itself.

Government, advocacy/analysis/policy, 18-24 months (3,3,6,4,3):

What will happen?

Minor to moderate curtailments in growth of financial markets and consumer confidence are likely. Fed Govt will be better prepared than local and state govts. Isolated instances of social unrest are likely with press coverage to add to panic levels vs. actual problems. Continuity/viability of infrastructure is largest concern due to lack of regulatory oversight (e.g., electrical power, etc.)

Organization/non-profit, advocacy/analysis/policy, 12-18 months (5,4,3,3,4):


I work for a major utility, and having the latest company information, I see no disconnects

What will happen?

Increased stockpiling, a number of small business failures related to Y2K (10-15%).

Unexpected events?

Yes, though I don't know what. The books and articles written cover the spectrum.


Corporate/business, management/consulting/planning, 24-48 months (5,4,5,3,3):

Unexpected events?

I am worried that a terrorist organization might unleash a biological agent in a subway system or water supply because they think the U.S. Government will have its hands tied with the Y2K bug and won't have time to respond accordingly.

Government, oversight/interaction, 6-12 months (3,4,5,4,4):


Plan is not doing as well as they are stating publicly. Concerted effort to hide deficiencies. Deleting systems from critical list to show greater progress than has actually occurred.

Wild cards?

Regional conflicts.

Organization/non-profit, oversight/interaction, 24-48 months (5,4,4,3,4):

Notable "wild cards," which you tended to limit in the ground rules are the impacts due to what transpires outside the borders of the United States. We are an interdependent world, and what happens to important trading partners will matter to us.

Y2K tools/services vendor, hands-on remediation, 18-24 months (3,4,6,3,4):

What will happen?

Sometime in Q3'99 some Y2K thing will make a big news splash and that will start the ball rolling for stockpiling, market weakness, supply chain changes which will disrupt certain businesses. I have no idea about post 01/01/00, but something tells me that it COULD be very bumpy for a couple of weeks. By the end of Q1'00 it will smooth out, the end of whatever will be in sight for us here in the USA. Internationally it will be a mess. I think you will see major major problems. If your survey were being done with an international focus, most answers would be at the upper end of the spectrum...7-9's in every category for many nations.

Unexpected events?

A one-voice prediction: Domestic commercial air traffic will be suspended (with plenty of notice) from 12/30/99, resuming gradually beginning 01/04/00. International [air] traffic will take longer to resume normal operations. There will be selective use, on an unofficial basis of various "National Guards" to deal with the 'power anomalies' in various locales. It will be done on a very cooperative basis.

Organization/non-profit, advocacy/analysis/policy, 48+ months (2,6,5,3,5):

I was not happy with some of the choices since with some questions the options jumped from mild to catastrophic without sufficient serious middle ground. For example, I still believe that the federal government will experience some serious problems as will state and local governments. Also, the interfaces among these levels of government will undergo only minimal testing. I have always believed that the large private sector firms will be as ready as possible with mostly minor glitches. Small business still has substantial elements that are doing nothing, but the problems are of their own making.

The major concerns continue to be in the international area, especially with some parts of Asia, most of Latin America and Africa. The CIA is especially worried about Russia and China for national security reasons. These assessments are based on the view that the identification of mission critical systems was fairly accurate, and that contingency planning is receiving more attention.

In reality, I don't think anyone will REALLY know how bad or how good things are until it happens. This is very disconcerting for even individual planning on issues such as investments, stockpiling, etc. So much of the advice being issued now--in itself--could cause panics due to withdrawal from ATMs, filling up on gas, buying extra food, etc. The comparisons to snowstorms, hurricanes are not sufficient since I don't believe we have ever had a disaster that hit everyplace on earth--unless we go back to Noah and the flood.

Y2K tools/services vendor, hands-on remediation, 18-24 months (3,5,5,3,5):

Significant additional federal appropriations ($5bn+) too late-remediated agencies beginning in Q4/99 and running through Q4/00-Q2/01. Sharp downturn balance-of-trade as bottom falls out of export economy.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 6-12 months (3,4,6,4,5):

What will happen?

I think that the administration, in its attempt to palliate the public in advance of January 1, will end up creating a near panic situation and food/fuel stockpiling and shortages.

Consultant/analyst, hands-on remediation, 18-24 months (6,3,5,4,4):

What will happen?

Lots of unemployed Y2K contractors

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 18-24 months (5,4,5,4,4):

January 1999 will be the most challenging period. If government agencies and media are able to reassure the public and if community action groups have contingency plans in place - the social disruption should be minimal. However, if the public perception of Y2K creates fear, etc. - the effects are unpredictable.

Government advocacy/analysis/policy, 12-18 months (3,5,4,6,4):


Reporting compliance in "supply chain" issues without being able to adequately test large portions of data stream - i.e. statistical samples are insufficient in this situation because holding "all other conditions the same" is not possible.

What will happen?

  1. Community preparedness.
  2. Rapid restructuring of economic forces toward modular, local entities.
  3. Private/public entities that show the most flexibility win.

Unexpected events?

Mental health crisis as stress increases - possibly more isolated rage incidents, suicides, domestic disputes over Y2k preparations. Municipal Bond Market collapses - bringing huge % of local governments to economic crisis.

Wild cards?

Oil becomes so cheap as the economic recovery fails to appear that big oil companies and oil-producing countries experience enormous financial problems, causing both disruption of oil-supply and social crisis and civil unrest in several allies' countries. Also economic wealth redistributes to a less equitable situation. Military force may be used, in which case, Y2K issues of command and control become extremely important. US forces sit this one out, with unknown consequences.

Military, management/consulting/planning, 18-24 months (5,6,3,4,4):

What will happen?

In the last 6 months of 1999 people will become more aware of the potential problems Y2K may bring and begin to prepare. They will begin stocking supplies for Probably a month (canned food, preserved meats & water), batteries for radios, oil for coal oil lamps, candles, and money. I fear that during the last weeks of the year, there will be a run on banks and credit unions for cash and after a while the cash won't be there. I know the Fed is prepared to issue more cash, and have emergency cash available, but there just isn't enough printed to satisfy everyone.

When January 1 rolls around, I think there will be isolated pockets of utility disruptions but they will be fixed in two or three days. There will be problems on Monday when folks return to work. I think there will be a mild recession with impact nation wide. By June 2000 most everything will be back to normal in the United States. The rest of the world, however, and especially the third world, will continue to feel the effects of Y2K.

Y2K tools/services vendor, oversight/interaction, 24-48 months (4,5,5,4,4):


There will be minor glitches in the financial reporting as the links with mainframe/client server financial applications and the downstream PC spreadsheets are going to have some problems which will be either network and/or system related. May cause more manual work to close books than normal. There may be some longer-term plant shut downs, but the company has already bought warehouse space and has contingency plans to meet supply chain requirements.

What will happen?

There will be stockpiling by skeptics and those who believe the Armageddon or world will come to the end at the millennium. The press pays way to much attention to these types of people and then ends up scaring people who normally would not even think of such silly ideas. I believe there will be some domestic utility disruptions and hardships and the weather could certainly be a factor.

Unexpected events?

What scares me the most is the readiness of nations that are having civil unrest or the governments are unstable today. Not sure of the intelligence of their weaponry and where it is targeted. During the cold war, cities like DC and Chicago were always named as targets due to the politics and the transportation mecca respectively. I trust others outside the US the least.

Wild cards?

Depends on how many cult groups start to gain press coverage. If people would go about their business and just ask their suppliers whether it is the grocery store, utility companies or whomever what they are doing to ensure that services and products will continue to be available then we would be fine. All of a sudden the press - the sleeping giant mouths - have awakened and they are causing FUD in the public instead of helping with answers. It is really annoying that they are not taking a leadership role.

Consultant/analyst, hands-on remediation, 18-24 months (4,6,6,3,4):

As a company insider, I know that the utility company I work for has been very accurate in reporting Y2K progress to the public. We will be complete in June 1999 and almost all software has been final tested on a Y2K LPAR. No doubt there will still be some problems when you modify almost all systems in your company and all of the changes take affect on the same day.

Consultant/analyst, hands-on remediation, 18-24 months (6,5,5,3,4):


I work with several government agencies. The Pinocchio factor is severe. These guys don't know how to tell the truth, especially when the truth is bad news, and it's been going on since long before "Slick Willie" was elected!

What will happen?

Consumer shortages are a given. Then again, we are the most affluent society in the world; with a little charity and forbearance, we all ought to get along just fine.

Unexpected events?

My major concern right now has shifted from healthcare to criminal justice. Some of the systems that record sentences for criminals aren't ready. Watch for bizarro lawsuits claiming that so-and-so ought to have been released from prison before he was convicted.

Corporate/business, advocacy/analysis/policy, 24-48 months (4,5,4,4,6):

Public (and private company) assessments of Y2K status are constrained by the need to appear in control and prepared.

a. Dependencies on foreign governments are not reported to a degree that reflects their significance to a sector, e.g. the oil & gas sector.

b. An analysis of corporate responses to the SEC showed companies reporting quarterly status that was inconsistent with previous reports.

Government agencies are reducing the numbers of 'critical systems' as they progress during the year. There may be reason for small numbers. Larger reductions (e.g. DOD) permit agencies to report a greater % of critical systems being ready.

Assessments of the Y2K readiness of PC systems are for the most part inconclusive. To be certain, tests must be made of all the components at play: operating systems, COTS, BIOS, RTC, and application programs.

These comments are not meant to reflect my employer's views, or those of anyone else for that matter.

Military, oversight/interaction, 6-12 months (6,6,5,3,3):

What will happen?

Shortages in oil and natural gas being produced in Russia, Middle East, and Pacific Rim causing disruptions to energy production and consumer goods during period February through June 2000.

Other, advocacy/analysis/policy, 24-48 months (4,4,7,4,4):

Unexpected events?

Year 2000 census takes place April 1, 2000 - wide variation in results due to Y2K impacts throughout states. Consequently redistricting, allocation of Federal funds and all other business and government related planning based on census data is flawed. Call for a dicennial census 2005 to correct situation.

Wild cards?

Stillness 2000 - As 12 midnight waves around the planet - time zone by time zone, there is rapid learning as the dominos fall and down wave time zones rush to patch the problems as found - the wave will continue around the globe for days and months. The net effect will be community and regional networking on a global scale. The negative elements who wish to terrorize or otherwise dominate will face the same technology shortcomings, but they will not have the positive community links to solve the problems.

Corporate/business, advocacy/analysis/policy, 24-48 months (5,5,5,4,5):


No comment for both business and political reasons

What will happen?

There will be a large dip in the stock market indexes. Stockpiling of food and Y2K related contingency items will begin. Shortages of items mentioned previously will occur due to stockpiling. Shift to safer investments like bonds, or more tangible items like gold or real estate.

The general population will be requesting hard copy documentation of their properties, investments etc.

Unexpected events?

Depending on the weather - Y2K events may become over-exaggerated. World economies will be affected - short term US economy will hold, but will feel the effects of the depression caused by Y2K event from around the globe. Personal watches may malfunction. Programmable VCR's, TV's, thermostats and other home appliances may malfunction. There are many anticipated events and items that may malfunction but the general population will still feel that it is unexpected due to ignorance. Delay in shipment of foreign goods - imports World Bank, IMF and other similar types of institutions may find it difficult to assist troubled countries.

Wild cards?

Sabotage - Computer virus introduced into the World Wide Web, Internet the week of Dec 26 - Dec 31, unnoticed resembling a trojan horse, net crawler or CIH but mimics Y2K bug.


Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 48+ months (6,5,6,3,4):

What will happen?

Rapid increase in problems that occur due to date related faults. Overseas marketplaces already under severe economic pressures rapidly begin to fail with significant insurgencies gaining ground in the emerging world. Significant protectionist sentiment and activity in the United States. Serious dangers from failures in dangerous infrastructural areas (nuclear power, etc.). Significant rise in reactionary governments in the "third world" that are actively hostile to the United States.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 48+ months (7,5,5,3,4):

A very likely, but not widely publicized scenario is the lengthened receivables cycle for many corporations resulting from business system processing problems and/or manufacturing problems of customers. Resulting cash flow issues could result in a domino effect with widespread economic impact.

Also, the coincidence of religious concerns surrounding "end-of the world" predictions for 2000, could impact Y2K recovery. Public attitude will affect the amount of panic and dysfunctional behavior. If a large portion of the population feels that disruptions are the result of a higher force, we may go into a panic situation.

Corporate/business, management/consulting/planning, 18-24 months (4,4,8,3,5):


No. Everything is as stated.

What will happen?

I am optimistic with regard to the U.S. I am not so sure about the International Arena. I know that contingency plans to go back to a written system temporarily are being planned for some international companies. Triggering some of your above listed scenarios.

Obviously looming on the Y2K horizon I see 2nd quarter high unemployment, lawsuits and minor global market fluctuations depending upon each countries view of the overall Y2K situation.

Unexpected events?

Second level govt. agencies and regional govts face slow process to get minor things done. This is based on their status as a priority within their upper level govt. (i.e., pay will be attributed, checks will take a very long time to be cut and mailed)

Wild cards?

The unpredictability of the public everywhere.

Educational, advocacy/analysis/policy, 24 - 48 months (6,4,5,4,5):

What will happen?

Depends if state governments fail. If they do, then panic starts in July. Otherwise, severe procrastination until October. Then a lot of weirdness around December/January. *But* I suspect the real problems will be with corrupt data, not found until March or April 2000, after it is again off everyone's radar screens. Death by a thousand cuts.

Unexpected or unanticipated events?

Ground systems on satellites fail (not the birds, not chip-related). I have seen the discussion by the military folks about GPS ground systems, and Japan just pulled back one of its experiments in space due to ground systems problems. I have suspected this for at least 18 months (I used to work for GAO in NASA work).

Wild cards?

Saddam/North Korea doing biological warfare while we are worried about nukes in Russia.

Legal, interested/concerned bystander, 6-12 months (5,6,6,3,4):


Organization is not doing anything. Thinks only its project planning software is impacted. Doesn't understand what all can be impacted.

What will happen?

If localized utilities outages occur, people will move in with relatives in areas that are more livable.

Consultant/analyst, hands-on remediation, 6-12 months (6,4,5,4,6):

We tend to see a lot of [organizations?] in flux on how each application is being remediated and the number of waivers for not doing date roll testing or revalidating vendor/3rd party software is astronomical. Some of the key applications come from outside vendors and we are assuming they did their own due diligence.

Corporate/business, hands-on remediation, 12-18 months (5,5,6,4,5):

What will happen?

The things I'm most worried about right now are the electric grid, the oil industry's vulnerability to overseas and embedded systems, and the possibility of bank runs. Personally I plan to leave most of my cash in my accounts because I'm confident that even in a worst-case the hard-copy backups will ensure that I eventually get my money, but I'm worried about the reports that 5-10% of people do plan to pull out all their cash, and that's more than enough to exhaust all available cash reserves and create a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Unexpected events?

I've been studying this for months, and will continue to do so, but I still fully expect to be surprised by something unexpected.

Organization/non-profit, advocacy/analysis/policy, 12-18 months (6,5,6,3,5):

Wild card: The level of preparation of foreign countries, particularly their banks. I am beginning to suspect that the primary impact on the US banking system and stock market will come not from domestic Y2K problems, but from our connections with foreign banks.

Organization/non-profit, oversight/interaction, 24-48 months (3,4,7,3,8):


I am the project manager for our Y2K committee and team leader for our task force, so far, by my request, most of all our vendors have sent me Y2K compliance sheets. Our 200 PC and laptops are still undergoing testing of the five major areas. (This will continue until June 99; started back in Oct 98.) Also our non-IT (non-computer systems) are still under preparation. The goal is to still be operating during any problems.

What will happen?

I believe 40% people will start to panic and act out of fear. The other 60% will think "this doesn't effect me in any way" or "this is too UN-real" or think it's a plot by IBM or Microsoft to make more money as being the messiah for mankind's technology. We all should control the fear and arrogance. Because that's what's going to set back, hurt (destroy) us. The biggest problem in all of this is we know what we should be doing, it's just the matter of doing it.

"Not to worry cause worry is wasteful and useless in times like these" a quote from Jewel's song "Hands"

Unexpected events?

If just think some states are going to be with out power. and the wave effect begins. No heat, hospitals ER room overflow, undrinkable water due to the water system is down. (The non-hydro water system)

Wild cards?

I have heard in the news of violent solar storms which are taking place right now in space but are suppose to grow and increase in 2000. These disturbances can damage communications and electrical generation and affect satellites. They increase and decrease in cycles, and are building up to an expected peck in the second half of 2000. Such a storm in 1989 caused an electrical blackout in Canada's Quebec province. This storm's beginning is from our sun (sunspot). Since our sun's electromagnetic radiation is a continuum that spans radio wavelengths through the infrared, visible, ultraviolet, x-ray and beyond, it would be reasonable to project problems with am and fm radio waves (phones, computer fax machines, pagers,) and our satellites. Here is a responsible web site for more information: http://www.msnbc.com/news/209204.asp.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 24-48 months (6,6,5,3,6):

Unexpected events?

One of my concerns is that "data" will or is becoming corrupt because of lack of action on the part of companies in timely renovating their systems. Because of the unknowns in this scenario, no one can guess at the size, symptoms, date of occurrence, or the impacts.

Consultant/analyst, hands-on remediation, 24-48 months (6,5,6,5,4):

What will happen?

There will be a ramping up of citizen interest. As more information is truthfully disseminated about foreign preparedness, increased anxiety will result. More infrastructure happenings will occur about March 2000 and will cause discontent on a global scale.

Unexpected events?

Not unexpected to me, but maybe others. I think there will be a lot of surprises born in lack of seriousness, mainly by government and private sector management and medium and small scale business owners.

Wild cards?

I believe the effects will be born by not what was done in the US, GB, Australia, or Canada, but in the 2nd and third world countries, where dependencies are not well known, but the infrastructure is highly volatile. Due to a lack of world leadership on this problem the world will not have a good day. About January 1, 2001 would be the event horizon for snap shooting the results and observations of the Y2K event.

Military, management/consulting/planning, 24-48 months (5,6,6,4,5):

All government agencies are not telling the truth. And we all know it!

Consultant/analyst, advocacy/analysis/policy, 48+ months (7,6,4,3,7):

Al Gore's ability to run for president will be derailed. I see the stock market really taking it in the chin. Market (DJIA) will break 10,000 shortly, but sometime this year Y2K snafus & negative earnings "surprises" will finally prick the bubble.

Press, other, 6-12 months (7,6,6,4,4):

Aside from the many particular threats to different elements of different industries, Y2K poses two broad and extremely significant threats to the entire world: (1) bank runs and a financial collapse of enormous proportions especially due to the bubble in markets worldwide; and (2) the devastation that the problem is likely to wreak in major unprepared nations, particularly Japan and Germany. The difficulty of knowing anything with certainty about either of those problems only adds to the inherent uncertainty involved in predicting the impact of Y2K on particular industries.

Consequently my survey responses are best regarded as wild and only very partially informed guesses. It could be much worse (indeed, a major depression would not be very surprising), and if I am wrong in my estimate of the "resilience" of modern systems to deal with challenges like Y2K, it could be a bit better.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 6-12 months (3,4,7,8,6):

The big weakness is in the area of contingency planning. Most people in positions that should be doing it are just not interested in contingency planning, and are far to wrapped up in everyday chores to do what they need to. I am finding that they are reluctant to plan for the real contingencies, such as the possibility that we could have power outages and communications disruptions, using the excuse that "Well, if that happens we'll be dead in the water anyway." But they don't expect their paychecks to stop coming. Even the planning for the payroll process itself, in this organization, has failed to include contingencies like manual check preparation. The thinking seems (to me) to be motivated by a combination of "It can't happen here" plus the tendency of many managers to do things that actually promote emergencies, because they have a better chance top look good when they're handling an emergency.

Press, advocacy/analysis/policy, 24-48 months (5,6,7,3,7):

What will happen?

U.S. blue chip stocks and treasuries stumble mid-year, then rally in fall as they will be viewed as "safe haven" for global capital. Move could last into early 2000, then we'll be faced with outflows from U.S. mkts by mid-2000 as other major countries catch up.

Business recession otherwise will intensify by early 2000 and last 1-2 years

Unexpected events?

The blow to international trade and relations will be greater than feared; Americans (and others) will swing quickly toward what the media will term "protectionist" or "isolationism".

Wild cards?

The federal government --and particularly IRS-- will have to figure out how to put a lid on all the "economies within an economy" that will proliferate.

Consultant/analyst, hands-on remediation, 0-6 months (6,6,6,5,6):

What will happen?

Some panic and run on stored food.

Consultant/analyst, oversight/interaction, 6-12 months (5,5,6,6,7):

Unexpected events?

The following are what I expect - they may be unexpected to some...

A) To borrow from calculus - As the # of days remaining goes toward 0, the limit of the # of systems under consideration will go toward 0. Or more simply - as the # of days diminish, more systems will be re-classified as Non-Essential in order to improve the % complete and $ spent. (As confirmed by the recent DOD release indicating that their number of critical systems had decreased _and_ a 25% increase in total budget)

B) A vast flurry of 'We're not done, but don't worry!' press releases in late December 1999. Most likely causing vast consumer uncertainty and isolated (yet possibly large) groups of panic. The effect ? I don't think many will riot in the streets, but I do think that there will be a vast majority who will sit at home and quake.

C) If there is a large impact, or if there is no impact - in either case I expect to see many people who will have a great deal of hostility towards technical people and institutions. Either we've grossly overstated the problem for our own profit, or we've set up the world to take the fallout from our cost cutting and incompetence. The only hope to avoid this perception is to educate them that the problem DOES exist and correct enough of it to avoid the fallout effects.

D) The only certainty is that I've already been told where I'm going to be on Dec 31 from 11:00 UTC on...

Military, advocacy/analysis/policy, 24-48 months (5,5,7,7,5):


Bad news does not get floated upward!

What will happen?

Major supply chain disruptions from international sources, especially Asia and South America leading to shortages in several critical areas related to food, raw materials, hardware components, and pharmaceuticals.

Unexpected events?

Rural and isolated area service outages causing major problems for a small segment of the American population. Much worse in other countries leading to famine and civil disruption.

Wild cards?

The collapse of the international trade and economic inter-dependencies.

Consultant/analyst/consulting firm, government/community activist, 12-18 months (6,5,6,7,6):

Unexpected or unanticipated events?

Unrelated economic troubles in other countries affect US ability to prepare for Y2K problems (pre-Y2K stock market slide, drying up of resources). Flight of US capital from emerging markets back to US prevents other countries from making infrastructure upgrades necessary to deal with Y2K problems.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 12-18 months (5,5,6,8,6):

Al Gore gets successfully blamed for the government tech mess and any Republican takes the White House.

Consultant/analyst, oversight/interaction, 18-24 months (6,5,6,6,7):

Legacy systems in Denver schools, for example, are not being replaced quickly enough. This Y2K has a true deadline that cannot be missed. I recall one old programmer/software developer saying everything is right on schedule until just before the due date then, oops, maybe a few months later. Time moves mercilessly on.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 12-18 months (7,6,6,7,5):

ISOLATED examples of systems guaranteed or with the greatest confidence of being Y2K-compliant will fail, because of some unanticipated dependency. ISOLATED examples of systems or organizations that "should have" failed that do not, either because of an (extraordinary, in some cases) human and leadership response, or because the disruption, itself, was interrupted or masked by another failure. For example, a noncompliant system that 'fails open' does not cause a flood because it needs another system, also not compliant, to open a gate or valve. Or a human being questioned an instruction from an automated system. Or an organization that leverages an extreme response from its employees allowing for a short, intense, period of manual operations while critical repairs are made to automated systems. This leads to circulation and reporting of these stories. They leave the Listener thinking "Now, who would have thought of that?"

WIDESPREAD examples of the bravery, spontaneity, creativity of individuals and teams in responding to breakdowns. Do not expect people to give up at the first signs of failure. Expect people to say that the show must go on because the alternative is unacceptable.

The population will be left with a sense of the size of the technical breakdowns - like receiving a crash course in systems thinking. They will also be left with a sense of the size of what works and is Y2K compliant in the economy and the society. Clearly what works is bigger than what will fail and the question is how the failures might connect with one another. As a human being, it is clear that the problems are enormous. But we have spent our time studying the problem and not what already works, which is even more enormous, difficult to comprehend and place in perspective and in comparison. We know that the Titanic sank in an ocean that was better than 99% iceberg-free and that the damage to its hull was confined to holes totaling about 1 square meter in surface area, again far less than 1% of the surface area of the hull. And we know it sank. If the holes had totaled less than 0.1 meter squared or 0.01 meter squared, as they might have had circumstances been slightly better, it might not have sank, or have remained afloat until the next morning, increasing the likelihood of rescue.

Ultimately how we fair with Y2K may be a question of balance. As I hope these numbers illustrate, a small defect can cause a large outcome. There is an African saying that goes something like "Anyone who doubts that a small creature can have a big effect should try going to sleep with a mosquito in the room."

Corporate/business, hands-on remediation, 12-18 months (6,6,7,6,6):

What will happen?

Stockpiling in last few months. Some panic.

Unexpected events?

Any recession we have, which given the foreign situation is very likely, will be exacerbated by the tremendous consumer debt level. Many, many people are leveraged past the hilt...

We're overdue for a cold winter...

Government, oversight/interaction, 24-48 months (5,5,6,6,9):

This was kind of difficult the way the questions are worded ... felt like some parts of different ones would happen.

Like Government Response... An agency will probably fail but there probably will be martial law of some kind and possibly a suspension of the 2000 election.

Look at all the Executive Orders that are coming out of the White House setting up just such a scenario.

Also believe there will be a major run on the banks in the mid-June to early July time frame. This could do away with money and allow for only electronic fund transfer.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 24-48 months (5,6,7,6,8):

30% drop in stock market then June 2000 start of great bull market 15,000+

Government, advocacy/analysis/policy, 24-48 months (6,6,7,7,6):

What will happen?

This will roughly follow the X stages of project management, which ends up with "search for the guilty, punishment of the innocent, praise and honors for the uninvolved."

Unexpected events?

I believe that you will have at least one major social outbreak. This incident will occur as a result of "sensationalized" reporting by the local news media and will happen something like this. The impact of Y2K will be significant, and widespread, but generally moderate as people remember that they can both THINK and DO with the permission of a computer.

But the supply train WILL be impacted and most grocery stores only have 3 days supplies on hand. The news media will go to a poor and chronically under-served neighborhood and show long lines at the grocery store as frightened people try to stock up on staples. Then the same media crew will show a well served suburban neighborhood with no lines. Poor people will assume that THEY (suburbanites) are screwing US again. Poor people will decamp wholesale for the burbs, with the inevitable cross-cultural miscommunication. Someone pulls a gun.....

Wild cards?

I think you are looking at least one or two environmental disasters a la Exxon Valdez, and a couple of breakdowns/blowups of petrochemical/chemical processing plants. This may or may not be a Bhopal scenario...

Military, other, 6-12 months (7,6,5,6,8):

I am willing to believe the financial progression of realigned business suppliers starting in June 1999, Y2K-based bank lending guidelines, and families building up a cash reserve that then reduce bank reserves for lending combined with Warner Brother's Y2K movie (Sept release) will produce layoffs, bankruptcies and a bad last quarter as families spend less $ on Christmas. If anything serious happens in Jan, the cash reserves stay at home and are not spent. Jan becomes a lousy month also. Add this to the expected failure of Russian oil/natural gas, Europe being way behind, and Saudi Arabia and Venezuela being behind. Trade and production will drop in addition to a world oil shortage with resulting higher prices. Big Recession. I can believe this, because I also feel I can survive it.

I really don't want to seriously project the domino effect of numerous moderate Y2K events, because the logical progression does not paint a pretty picture and will require a huge amount of preparations that few organizations are willing to consider.

Organization/non-profit, government/community activist, 48+ months (10,5,8,3,6):

What will happen?

I think that we are going to see frantic testing of systems that will fail because the proper initial testing and preparation of the programs was not done. I don't think that the computer systems now in use can be repaired. The technology has changed too much and as we have all seen on our personal computers, some programs just don't mesh with each other. It's like trying to patch a hole in a bucket, better to get a new one.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 12-18 months (5,6,8,6,8):


Upper management is just getting a clue, even though we have been working with clients on Y2K issues for over a year. It could get to be really 'fun'.

What will happen?

Increasing panic reactions among individuals, organizations and the government; all the way to 'millennial cult' reactions, and violence towards us nonbelievers. Sociology literature is full of studies about cults whose belief turns out to be hogwash; sometimes they react violently. For most of us, we will toggle between preparing and trying not to look like a nut case.

Unexpected events?

Negative effects may be spotty (terrible some places, mild others), but just like a fender-bender at rush hour on the beltway, will have bad consequences 'downstream'; for instances power grid failure far away will cause brown or black out which will lead to opportunistic violence and looting, then martial law, then it really gets messy. We should expect some people to really, truly freak out, if they really believe it is the end of time and it ISN'T, they are going to be PISSED.

Wild cards?

As the disruptions go on and on and on, people will have less patience and things will start to pinch, tempers will flare. For instance if the power goes out for a few days that would be bad, but if power remains on and cable TV goes out, that could be worse…

Organization/non-profit, government/community activist, 18-24 months (7,5,7,8,6):

I believe the loss of credibility of the government, in the event that the turnover is significantly more than a bump in the road, may be irreversible with an extremist party becoming a part of the landscape.

Organization/non-profit, government/community activist, 6-12 months (6,7,7,7,6):

What will happen?

Increased concern, media hits, community organizing, public pressure. Mild disruptions in the beginning of 2000 in the us but the international supply chain makes things worse in the us as we approach June

Unexpected events?

Possible community organizing and public pressure grows extremely strong driving govt. and private action

Wild cards?

Major world leader admits before 2000 Y2K uncertainties and possible disruption scenarios asking for cooperation for humanities sake. A Y2K activist wins the Nobel peace prize.

Other, advocacy/analysis/planning, 48+ months (7,7,7,5,7):

My main concern is and has been for the past 4 years that nuclear weapons command and control systems (hardware & software) & nuclear power plants 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/met compliance, with Russia of primary concern.

Consultant/analyst, hands-on remediation, 48+ months (7,8,5,6,8):

I have a number of clients and talk to programmers employed by other firms. This last week, I heard of two large organizations *starting* their assessment. One sent an RFP to a services firm.

Consultant/analyst, interested/concerned bystander, 6-12 months (6,5,7,8,8):

What will happen?

June-July 99 - There will be slight panic as the general public sees that businesses and government agencies have not moved forward in their remediation efforts.

July-Aug 99 - Media will pick up and run with the seriousness of the Y2K story _ FINALLY. People will now listen.

Summer 99 - Utilities will experience random problems thru this summer due to testing.

Fall 99 - Food will be in great demand due to hoarding and panic shopping. Government will have to intervene to control the public prior to Jan. 1. There will be run on banks. Stock markets will be effected as holders get out of the market. Clinton administration will finally admit there will be major problems. Communities will work together to prepare. There will be a sense of brotherhood in some regions.

Dec. 99 - Christmas won't be any fun this year.

Jan-June 00 - Total black out (no major utilities will work) in January for a month or 2. Random outages will occur throughout 2000 as repairs are made. Power surges will cause big problems. Social morale will be low.

May-June, 2000 - services will be more regular with sporadic problems in finance, shipping, foreign trade, stock market,

Unexpected events?

I'm very concerned with national security - especially living in the DC area.

Corporate/business, advocacy/analysis/policy, 24-48 months (7,6,8,7,6):

What will happen?

As more Year 2000-related disruptions occur in the late summer, the general public will begin to understand the enormity and potential long-term effects of the problem. They will also begin to understand:

1. How devious the Clinton administration has been in their unconscionable suppression of the facts about the situation.

2. The lack of leadership from either the Executive or Legislative branches of the Federal and most state governments.

3. How ineptly most governments have performed in the areas of timely public information, remediation and contingency planning, and civil defense preparedness.

Wild cards?

Microsoft will reveal a universal fix in late November 1999, and Bill Gates will be unanimously elected emperor of the world in January 2000. (Comic relief!)

Corporate/business, hands-on remediation, 18-24 months (6,6,7,8,7):


We've redefined compliance and critical systems after first 10 Q's got us reamed by the market analysts.

Y2K tools/services vendor, hands-on remediation, 18-24 months (6,6,8,7,7):

I would imagine that most organizations expect to have the US Postal Service provide a "backup" snail-mail service when the various Email systems crash or suffer rolling brown/black-outs. What if EDI doesn't work for social security or OPM retirement benefits payout? Banking direct-deposit? Surprise!

Contingency plans that assume the USPS will arise above the Y2K emergency and perform a miracle must re-examine this premise now.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 48+ months (6,5,7,8,9):

Potential hyperinflation in energy process due to curtailment of supplies from exporting countries to the US. Potential armed conflict with China or Russia over strategic energy supplies.

Corporate/business, oversight/interaction, 6-12 months (5,6,8,8,8):

What will happen?

I think the major disruptions caused by Y2K will be from raw materials disruptions and will not show up until the March-July 2000 timeframe. I think January 2000 will be a non-event. The interesting question will be whether all attention stops Jan 5th, making the resulting disruptions more severe than they otherwise would be.

Consultant/analyst, interested/concerned bystander, 24-48 months (7,7,7,8,7):

I have close knowledge of the Y2K remediation efforts in three companies, but I am not doing Y2K remediation in any of them.

1) One is a large national water treatment company, which was recently acquired by a chemical company. The acquired company has significant Y2K problems in their legacy code. They have had an SAP implementation going on for five years, and this was supposed to take care of their Y2K problems. They have just had another slip in the SAP deadlines. They have done no remediation of their legacy code. Their largest customer has given them a June deadline to achieve full Y2K compliance, or they will take their business elsewhere. There is no chance that they will achieve Y2K compliance by June (using either the legacy code or SAP), let alone by the end of this year.

2) The second is a regional appliance retail chain. Their legacy software has serious Y2K problems. Because of business shrinkage over the last several years (which has only turned around within the last year), they are running with an MIS staff that is 1/4th the size of what it was three years ago. They just recently purchased a software package to completely replace their legacy system. The skeleton staff is trying to install this new software. In my opinion, the chances of doing a successful implementation of this massive package by the end of the year are slim to none.

3) The third is a division of a large insurance company. Their legacy software has fatal Y2K problems. Their Y2K remediation efforts are too small and too late. The company is primarily concerned with getting new business. Inside information has it that if they do not dedicate the entire department to Y2K remediation by June, they will have no chance of achieving any amount of Y2K remediation, and this division could go out of business.

If the microcosm of my experience can be extended to the larger economy, then the prospects of a severe recession, or worse, look very likely. When Y2K is added to the precarious state of the world economy, a depression could result.

Consultant/analyst, oversight/interaction, 24-48 months (8,5,7,8,8):


Reports that claim completion of contingency planning are simply untrue, if one expects more than a checkmark on a blank piece of paper.

What will happen?

Despite a recent orchestrated federal/state/media campaign to dampen potential public panic, religious and environmental activists will join (in spirit) survivalists movements in independent actions and vocalizing no confidence in government, and demanding closure of industries deemed dangerous to society (nuclear power, chemical processing, etc). Stockpiling (or 'hoarding' in the government's vernacular) leading to commodity and pharmaceutical shortages and social unrest will resonate throughout most regions. Lastly, the Medicare system will fail, particularly in Arkansas, which directly impacts delivery of countless monthly checks to nine neighboring states. The economic impact to the healthcare industry, et al, is but one example of severe social consequences due to a single Y2K failure.

Unexpected events?

Massive influx of émigrés from Latin America, desperate and hungry, inundating southwest US cities, will spawn significant societal disruptions. International consequences of Y2K will cause irreparable harm to US economy, with associated impact to supply chain, trade, and employment, which will peak in mid-2000. Eight of ten petroleum exporting countries for whom the US is totally dependent, are presently assessed by the World Bank, and others, as doing effectively nothing about Y2K. Finally, Cyber terrorism, its scope and intensity, is the great unknown, if "friendly" countries use Y2K for furtherance of economic warfare measures against competing corporations/industries.

Wild cards?

A true national emergency/priority is declared, with genuine national and global leadership, and with mobilization of unlimited ($) resources.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 24-48 months (7,8,8,7,7):

People will move 401K from equity mutual funds to money markets causing a significant decline in stock prices.

Geraldo will get tired of Monica stories and begin daily coverage of Y2K, which will be a double-edged sword causing some people to rationally prepare and others to panic. In response to Geraldo and others like him, Tom Brokaw will host weekly programs on how "The Greatest Generation" suggests we keep our heads and hearts together and do the right things; there will be many comparisons to tough times in the past and how people got through them "with a little help from their friends".

There will be much good and bad news as companies come forward on their readiness and others kept critical information secret.

If critical infrastructure can hold together my level of optimism will increase greatly. Even though I would continue to expect major supply chain problems, I would no longer fear disease and death due to weather and contaminated water.

It will be the worst of times because none of it needed to happen if denial and procrastination could have been overcome and the best of times because so many people will remember basic human kindness and live Christian (or other faith) principles.

Bennett and Dodd will be the first dual party candidates and with great statesmanship win the 2000 election.

Corporate/business, Oversight/interaction, 12-18 months (7,6,7,8,9):

What will happen?

Too many people chasing too few emergency goods and services creating inflation on these products and services and deflation on the unnecessary products and services.

Unexpected events?

There will many people dying due to the cold, sickness, lack of prescription medicine, contaminated water. Not enough emergency services to handle fires caused by misuse of alternate heat methods such as kerosene heaters, wood stoves, oil lamps, etc. Clinton will serve a third term because he will declare martial law and the election will be cancelled.

Military, oversight/interaction, 12-18 months (7,7,7,8,8):

In the face of the February/March 1999 Congressional reports and hearings, I do not believe that we will get off any easier than a 6 (cuts in oil imports, cuts in other imports, et. al.). Don't get me wrong; I would be delighted (and amazed) if Y2K became the best fizzle since Comet Kohoutek in the 1970's. From where I sit, the direct consequences of Y2K can be estimated at anywhere from 6 to 8, with people reacting (and the government likewise) at a stronger level. My midpoint therefore remains 7/7/7/8/8.

Wild cards include anything new in 1999 that could distract us further from the efforts to remediate and to prepare workarounds (foreign conflicts in the Middle East/Balkans and/or Asia, a new "scandal of the century", etc.). The well-meaning efforts to stave off panic, if continued, will exacerbate both effects and public/government reactions. If the direct consequences of Y2K extend to 8 or beyond, the non-treatment of chronic conditions may be the biggest killer in 2000 (NOT raiders); diseases may also carry off parts of a half-starved weakened population, as occurred in British nursing homes during the 1998-1999 influenza season.

Organization/non profit, interested/concerned bystander, 24-48 months (8,6,8,8,7):

Media excesses and misinformation whip the Great Unwashed into frenzies that exacerbate the underlying Y2K problems.

Consultant/analyst, advocacy/analysis/policy, 24-48 months (7,7,7,8,9):

What will happen?

1. At least one foreign attack on American soil.

2. One internal strike sabotage by 2000.

3. General hoarding by August 1999.

4. Military law declared by August in some cities.

5. Nation on alert by August.

6. Several new and devastating diseases will be discovered now and increase into the future.

7. Mass 'retirements' already beginning in major corporations will end in a complete changeover of industrial control worldwide by 2000.

8. Increased NATO involvement through 1999 and 2000.

9. No election in 2000.

10 . World monetary system will replace current by the end of 2000.

11. There will be executions probably televised of traitors (including any group contrary to media inspired forms of pseudo-patriotism) by the end of 2000 or mid-2001.

12. Shift to a world government operating on the surface as a slightly modified United Nations over the next three to four years.

13. Rome will rise in world influence through its conciliatory power in ecumenical matters which will come under control of the 'state.'

14. Forces against Israel will impose severely limiting sanctions in the midst of military opposition on its borders.

15. 50% possibility of nuclear military interaction in the next 5 years.

16. World starvation will increase, but be heard about less.

17. The United States will formally change its name in the next 5 years.

18. Overall loss of 50% of the world's population by 2004.

Corporate/business, interested/concerned bystander, 0-6 months (8,6,8,8,8):

Wild cards?

Widespread Christian revival as many people/organizations are literally brought down to their knees. Movements of the present that have eradicated or have attempted to eradicate God out of the American social and moral fabric confess, convert, and/or crumble. God in America, once again. The United States of America rebuilds on its original Christian-Judeo foundational principles.

Legal, government/community activist, 6-12 months (7,7,8,8,8):

More than one major chemical accident that devastates nearby communities. (I think that 80% of the population lives near a chemical plant). Exacerbated problems due to failure of emergency services -- police, fire, water, local gov't etc. See Gerry Poje's (member of the Chemical Safety Board) testimony for more info.

Military, interested/concerned bystander, 6-12 months (8,7,8,8,7):

Our corps is a Medium-Large (1,200 personnel) Gov't & private contractor doing mostly IT work. Our Y2K "Task Force" started in June 1998. While compliance is not a big issue for many of our products, this late start is just plain embarrassing. We should have known better

I talked with a fellow Reservist who was working on Norfolk-Southern's compliance. He said that they (contractors) were forced by the customer's IT staff to push the remediated system out the door before the completion of testing in order to meet the HQ-imposed deadline.

At an office birthday party Friday (2/5), I heard the chattering classes talking about what they were going to do to prepare. One planned on having "about $600", another said that she thought that storing bottled water was a little too radical. As these kind of people get scared, the food and bank runs will begin in 8/99-10/99. These will be just shortages, no chaos, but the media buzz will start generating critical mass. I think that the weather will drive most folks' preparations; spring and summer '99 will see little worry, but when the first frost hits, even the Yuppies will think about what their townhouses will be like with no power for a week.

The fall will see the sudden popularity of wood stoves, canned food, and generators. The media coverage of those who make sudden, rapid lifestyle changes will probably portray them as freaks, but the tide will begin to flow in that direction. Any Millennialists extremism, like terrorism, abortion clinic bombings, etc., will further serve to demonize those who prepare. (Y2K prep = survivalist = terrorist) The possibility of Federal Government intervention, anti-"hoarding" laws, etc. begins to raise its head. Winter 1999 sees these situations intensify.

Unexpected events?

Alternate scenario: The paucity of "operational" Y2K failures on April Fools, June 1 FY00, GPS Rollover, and 9/9/99 (and Jo Anne Effect) will almost completely muffle fears until the actual rollover. Federal government spin will exacerbate this muffling. The resulting panic when millions realize on 01/01/00 that they procrastinated too long will be much worse than if many small failures had paved the way for post-rollover problems.

Initially moderate impacts of rollover have a disastrous synergistic effect. That is to say, the first week of 2000, impacts are only 4-5 on your scale, but each failure makes it harder to fix previous failures and engenders more failures. By February, it's a 6-7, and the entropy continues.

Consultant/analyst, hands-on remediation, 48+ months (7,8,7,8,9):

Unexpected events?

Most SCADA systems use UNIX and GMT time, therefore things may remain fine around the world until 7:00pm EST and then fail worldwide, all at once. This sudden load shedding may cause turbine failures with a subsequent blackout of 1 to 2 years for its users. Wherever the power is off for two or more days, water plumbing will freeze and rupture. The subsequent uncontrollable leakage will render municipal water systems inoperable, with subsequent loss of sanitation and the onset of public health pandemics -- this will make any affected urban environment untenable, with resultant population migrations and social dislocation. The epoch date concept in embedded systems will cause them to randomly fail as their 20th anniversary from turn on occurs, this will mean random failures in critical systems over the next 20 years--answer turn off and reinitialize everything., but beware of the little batteries that may keep the date rendering the reinitialization moot (the elevator systems test uncovered the little batteries). The other problems need to be solved but if the power goes out nothing else will matter.

Consultant/analyst, management/consulting/planning, 48+ months (7,8,8,9,8):


Large disconnect between government (operational level) and GAO status (reports). Can we depend upon our Government? Remember this quote, "I did not have sex with that woman. . ."

What will happen [July 1999 – June 2000]?

Let's talk about what will happen within the next two/three weeks.

Unexpected events?

Introduction of very sophisticated and damaging (technical) viruses. Everyone is focused on repairing the code. What about fixing and/or repairing your "data" people? It's your most valuable asset outside of your human resources.

Wild cards?

I really don't know. Maybe this is the most difficult question.

Other, interested/concerned bystander, 6-12 months (8,8,7,8,9):

What will happen?

I think problems will appear mild January 2000 but that everything will be silently and slowly unraveling resulting in a snowballing effect that some will blame is happening for other reasons.

Unexpected events?

Nov 2000 Presidential election will be 'suspended' and Clinton will remain in office for stability and continuity and the public will agree with the need.

Wild cards?

Disease from contaminated water, spoiled food, hunger, exposure to cold, lack of 911/medications/health care, injuries from violence, deaths [body disposal], disease/contamination/quarantines and our young/old/disabled/chronic illness/nursing homes populations will impact dealing with Y2K in a major way.

Educational, hands-on remediation, 6-12 months (8,7,8,8,10):

I think that supply chains will be crippled for certain geographical areas, and for certain products. I also think that different parts of the infrastructure will be suffering in various degrees, for up to 6 months. I expect some areas to experience power blackouts for three days to two weeks, and occasional outages and dirty power occurring nationwide for up to six months.

I don't expect population shifts mentioned in [Social, level 5], or protests and riots mentioned in [Social, level 8].

Government interested/concerned bystander, 12-18 months (8,8,9,8,8):


Sec. of Energy reports 80% compliant on C-SPAN, but internal CIO docs as late as Jan 1999 request employee assistance in "assessment" of systems. Reward program announced for those who target non-compliant systems in their ofcs. & help in remediation. If assmt. still ongoing, then 80% compliant cannot be true, and this is deliberate misinformation to public.

What will happen?

When some major system fails, directly related to Y2K, then public finally realizes that fed. govt. has spin doctored Y2K news and info. Since this epiphany will occur late in 1999 (the last growing season for food storage ending), then prep. will be too late & panic the only possible response. Prep., not panic could have been completely prevented by reasoned response over last 2-3 years. Unfortunately the fed. govt. talked itself into an integrity box by initially denying any possible failures. Now they cannot change the message without appearing to have deliberately deceived the citizens, all for the sake of "no bad news" prior to mid-term elections.

Unexpected events?

Religious right believes Y2K is portent of 2nd coming. These communities will add to the chaos & social unrest.

Wild cards?

If fall & winter of 1999-2000 is severe (recent winters have been relatively mild, so we're due), then elec. power, oil, fuel, 1-K shortages will overwhelm unprepared & severely strain even the prepped. A long, hard winter (or drought in summer 1999 and/or 2000) will also delay recovery in food stores. This will be worst case of worst case & many will die. Even the prepped are only good for 1-year to next growing season. If back-to-back natural disasters combine with infrastructure failures, then recovery will resemble Middle Ages.

Organization/non-profit, advocacy/analysis/policy, 18-24 months (9,7,8,8,9):

What will happen?

Creeping then much faster problems, leading to social breakdown and martial law.

Organization/non-profit, advocacy/analysis/policy, 6-12 months (10,9,8,6,8):

What will happen?

Disruption of petroleum, raw materials, parts suppliers, etc. Many factories will close. Hyperinflation--too many dollars chasing too few goods being produced. Financial data exchange cut with most other nations.

Consultant/analyst, hands-on remediation, 24-48 months (8,6,8,10,10):

What will happen?

November 1999 stock market crashes, bank panic by December

Unexpected events?

Terrorism and large heists taking advantage of confusion

Wild cards?

Unexpected help from outside sources

Consultant/analyst, hands-on remediation, 48+ months (8,8,8,9,9):

Food is still key. We still have time to plant Victory Gardens, gain skills in raising our own food, stockpile to pipe food from warehouses to pantries. If I could, I'd order most meat animals slaughtered, eat them this year, convert corresponding land and feed to crops that humans consume directly. I still predict worldwide deaths in the hundreds of millions (from hunger, and cold-exposure while ill nourished), not including war casualties.

War overseas seems increasingly likely, and we need a strong defense to keep danger at a distance. We will see a bloodbath, as countries in turmoil declare wars on neighbors to (1) gain immediate assets, (2) take advantage of the opportunity when "police powers" are distracted, and (3) distract their own citizens from their internal failures (as in Argentina and the Falklands). I expect wars for India/Pakistan, various Southeast Asia, internal wars in China, various African states, Middle East, Balkans, Old Soviet Union. Every longstanding conflict that is simmering today will be in flames next year.

As the situation develops, I wouldn't be surprised by military drafting of programmers, Manhattan Project approach to Y2k. The public will take an increasingly high-level perspective on problems, will eventually be ready to sacrifice or alter industries as though waging a war. The important questions are: (1) When will we be prepared for this viewpoint? (2) How will democratic institutions survive this kind of stress?

Educational, advocacy/analysis/policy, 6-12 months (9,8,10,7,8):


Academic institutions with which I am affiliated do not seem to be aware of the ways in which Y2K-related regional infrastructure disruptions will impair their ability to function.

What will happen?

In late February and early March, there have been several developments that may help bring about a reorientation of national and global efforts: Calls by the CIA for the US government to take Y2K seriously, Senator Bennett's Committee report, Bruce Webster's critique of that report, Senator Bennett's Committee's hearing on the International Y2K outlook (the testimony given by Cap Gemini, the Gartner Group, the Department of State, and the CIA), the Nuclear Y2K Symposium convened by Congressman Markey, and Paula Gordon's White Paper on Y2K calling for the establishment of a crisis-oriented Special Y2K Office in the Executive Office of the President comparable in size to the Federal Energy Office during the energy crisis in the 1970s.

With relatively few notable exceptions, all of the reports, the hearing, the symposium, and the White Paper focused on a largely similar analysis of Y2K and its implications nationally and globally. What happens between now and June of 2000 depends entirely upon whether or not that understanding is acted upon by those in the highest levels of the Executive Branch and those in Congress. If the government were to take all actions that could be taken to minimize the harm that is likely to be done by Y2K, I would lower my estimates of impact from and 8 to 9 to a 3 to 4 level.

The trigger dates between now and January 1 will see increasing numbers of problems, disruptions, and disasters, with all of those peaking around the two to three months before and following the rollover. (Impacts on financial institutions owing to possible runs on banks will be likely unless the government, the banking industry, and the FED are able to assure the public that money is safe.

The Federal government and Congress may become extremely concerned about the ability of the District of Columbia and New York City, as well as other major metropolitan areas, to remain functional during Y2K. They may begin to dedicate considerable resources and technical expertise to helping ensure that these areas have a minimum of infrastructure disruptions and no major technological disasters that would require massive evacuations.

Following this recognition, there may be increasing concern that a significant number of state, county, and local governments are not going to remain functional during Y2K unless significant resources are dedicated to the task of helping them achieve a functional level of readiness.

Unexpected events?

Fiscal Year Trigger Dates, 99 End of File Problems, GPS repositioning, and Solar Max impacts

If it is discovered (and honestly reported) that there have been a significant number of data corruption problems triggered in IT systems at 1/1/99, this may lead to a greater of sense of the crisis character of the threats and challenges of Y2K. (The nature and extent of such data corruption might not become apparent for several months.)

The 99 end of file problem could provide a major wake up call.

GPS repositioning could also cause major problems.

Solar Max impacts would also help bring home the likely impacts of Y2K.

Fortressing and Islanding

If the amount of "fortressing" and "islanding" within in the public and private sectors begins to increase visibly and exponentially, the stock market will be affected in a major way, whether or not the President and the FED chairman acknowledge these self survival practices are occurring and whether or not they publicly acknowledge that such practices are having a deleterious and immediate impact on the bottom line of businesses and companies that are not going to be Y2K compliant.

If major elements of the business community begin to recognize that Y2K is going to mean a drastic reconfiguration of the global economy, the stock market will begin to reflect the great uncertainties that such recognition will bring.

I think there is a good chance that the President's Council and FEMA will recognize that FEMA has a program in place which could very easily be expanded to incorporate Y2K preparedness: their community-based hazard mitigation and preparedness program know as "Project Impact". There are currently 117 Project Impact communities in the nation. The guidance materials and videos prepared to help communities organize such efforts are extremely useful ~ just as they are ~ for organizing Y2K preparedness efforts. With additional resources and support, and with somewhat reconfigured public information, education, training and technical assistance efforts, other communities might be able to build on the lessons learned by the Project Impact communities. Another source of learning is the reports on the ice storm of the winter of 1998. Application of the lessons learned from the ice storms in the Northeast would measurably advance the nation's state of preparedness for Y2K. I believe that pressure will be brought on the Congress, on FEMA, and on the President's Council, to move in this direction.

Wild cards?

Key members of the House and Senate who "get it" could join with those few who have been at the forefront of efforts. They could authorize provide immediate and significant funding (a $25 billion plus budget) for a special action office in the Executive Office of the President (organized along the lines of the Federal Energy Office during the energy crisis of the 70s and the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention also in the 70s). They could be moved to do this through public pressure and concern regarding infrastructure disruptions as well as technological disasters (the possibility of pipeline explosions and the likelihood of Bhopal-type and Chernobyl-type disasters in the US and in other parts of the world). One Senator, such as Ted Stevens, might recognize that the Alaskan Pipeline is in jeopardy as a result of the likely presence of some non-compliant date sensitive embedded systems. He may realize the economic and environmental impacts that would have for Alaska and the nation. The wild card effect would be if there were one or more major technological disasters before the rollover.

Other members of Congress with chemical plants in their areas, could become highly sensitized to the hazards these pose. Owing to the March 8 symposium on nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants and Y2K, there could be a groundswell of opinion on Capitol Hill and among the public to take steps that would drastically affect domestic economic policy and would require major rethinking of national security policy.

EURO software may be found to be non-Y2K compliant! This would have major and early repercussions on world markets in 1999.

If the FED, the Department of the Treasury, and the President or key members of the Congress were to publicly recognize the implications of status of Y2K remediation in the developing world AND parts of the most developed nations (including Japan) for both the national and the global economies, such recognition could trigger the worst tail spin to date of world markets.

Additional comments:

My ratings are provisional. If the Federal government were to take drastic and near term steps to reorganize, fully fund, galvanize, and orchestrate national and global Y2K efforts that were proactive, problem-solving oriented, and crisis-oriented, there would be a chance of keeping impacts to the level of 3 or 4.

Y2K tools/services vendor, advocacy/analysis/planning, 12-18 months (9,9,8,8,10):

There is a huge difference between computer contingency plans and whole organization contingency plans. There is a huge difference between Public sector contingency plans and private sector contingency plans. Many plans will fail because they are not adapted.

Organization/non-profit, advocacy/analysis/policy, 0-6 months (6,9,10,7,10):

Unexpected events?

Our primary focus is how populations will act during a prolonged Y2K crisis. We will both pull together and pull apart. Our job in the next 12 months is to maximize the pulling together tendencies and minimize the pulling apart.

Other, government/community activist, 0-6 months (9,8,8,9,8):

Wild cards?

Impact of nuclear power reactors, nuclear weapons systems. The reactors need emergency backup power in case the grid goes down. Some nukes are near dams that can be dedicated for the reactor pumping systems to cool down nuclear fuel. Others will need long term back up power (windmills would be ideal, especially at coastal sites such as Diablo Canyon, Calvert Cliffs, etc.).

Consultant/analyst/consulting firm, oversight/interaction, 12-18 months (9, 10, 9, 9, 8):

Focusing on the next six months only, I think there will be continuing denial until catastrophes occur. Then, when everyone tries to implement contingency plans at the same time, the producers of the needed goods and services will be telling them they cannot meet the demand. Instead of the government taking a war footing with Y2K, they will continue to portray it as the local level responsibility and not theirs also. They will not invest now in things all will need. Then people will be distressed not to have access to them, at the same time they don't have the time or ability to produce them. People will be caught in a time-tightening vise.

The current approach to "avoiding public over-reaction" will ensure panic. How to nurture panic? Give people reassuring information and take away the many months they will need to emotionally adjust and frugally prepare. Thus ensure increase shortages by having everyone trying to get the same thing at the same time instead of early enough to increase production so all get what they need before 2000. Watch prices escalate and find the "have nots" have even less chance of getting their needs met, while they see those with money creating "safe communities" that block them out. Wait until the supply chains are disrupted to say it is "REAL" and then decide how important it would be to ramp up production, when even routine production levels cannot be maintained. Accuse people of "spreading panic" and "causing the shortage of pharmaceuticals, etc." and being "hoarders" because they prepare.

If lay people understand we are vulnerable and will need to have essentials for worse case scenarios produced in advance to avoid a panic, then those in the business of producing them "should" know it too and take a leadership role in getting them produced NOW.

If I am not surprised that it is probable that foreign countries won't be ready, having heard of the serious risk of that from John Koskinen in April of 1998, then shouldn't the pharmaceutical companies be accountable for having known it was a high risk also. Don't they recognize that 80% of the raw materials needed for pharmaceuticals are drawn from foreign countries and have a long production lead time, with many specific phases from end to end.

Twist it around and it's not their fault if we have a shortage because they didn't prepare – it’s the "panicky hoarders" who caused the problem. Not the professionals, of course. The "blame the victim" phase has come too soon. If we can spend federal money making bombs, why can't we spend it producing what we need for civic preparedness. We are no less vulnerable because it is internal.

Government, oversight/interaction, 18-24 months (10,10,9,9,9):

Why do the public announcements at my work not match up with my observations? Why does the Y2K test system have to be IPL'd each time someone accidentally warps the whole system into Y2K? Why am *I* considered to be crazy for my Y2K views, but, when the Washington Post reported on Sunday March 7, 1999, page A3, that the Peach Bottom #2 nuclear reactor was flying almost blind for seven hours when they set a backup monitor to Y2K and the date propagated into the production monitor, it isn't crazy? Anyone remember Three Mile Island? Now I know how Galileo and Copernicus felt. First, Y2K didn't exist, then we'd have it fixed, now it won't be too bad because we are going to fix that fraction of the systems that are "mission critical." Good luck to everyone, and God bless.

Other, interested/concerned bystander, 6-12 months (10,10,10,9,10):

Wild cards?

I think the wildcard will be in the area of the psychological or spiritual (in the broadest sense of this word). Many of us may have to face up to how much in life we do out of guilt. I hear people discuss stockpiling food to feed others and encouraging churches, for example, to prepare to meet the needs of people. The wild card may be that some of us, for the first time in our lives, could be asking whether we WANT to be governed as much by guilt as we have been in the past. I would rather have people who consider themselves "loving" or "liberal" or socially responsible look NOW at why they are doing what they are doing or thinking of doing these coming years. Maybe the word "selfish" has gotten a really bad rap and it is time to stop doing unto others what we wish they would do unto us. Quite honestly, there are only 2 people on my entire block I feel like giving food to in an emergency--NONE of the hundreds of people in 3 huge apartment buildings behind my house. I can't pump my emotions up into community action. I've fought many civic fights in the past and dag nabbit, I'm exhausted. I've already discussed Y2K with our closest friends many times and they are not taking it seriously. Perhaps they will at some point this year, but I am tired of dealing with their denial of life and Y2K problems. I wish there would be some serious discussion in Y2K-awareness groups on the subjects of: "selfishness" vs. unselfishness (selflessness); social responsibility vs. saving oneself; guilt vs. the denial of guilt; and the option of bailing out of a community that is not facing this issue.

Other, interested/concerned bystander, 18-24 months (10,10,10,10,10):

To quote a chap on the West Coast, "Gary North is an optimist."


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Copyright © 1999, 2000 Bruce F. Webster. All rights reserved.

Last updated 08/21/2000.