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News Release


Release No: 342-99
July 22, 1999


Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen today declared the Department of Defense ready to face the final challenges of the Year 2000 computer problem.

The Department of Defense has undertaken an enormous effort to ensure Y2K readiness. DoD is responsible for one-third of all mission critical computer systems in the Federal Government and one-half of all federal computer systems. In a press conference at the Pentagon today, Cohen noted the Department's current progress: more than 92 percent of DoD's 2,107 mission critical systems are fully Y2K compliant; 94 percent of 4,749 non-mission critical systems are fixed and implemented; and over 99 percent of 637 installations are compliant.

In about six percent of cases, systems are not yet "completed" since a known fix has yet to be installed at many locations. Completion of these systems has been affected by operational deployment schedules, such as for carrier battle groups when the fix will be made upon return to home port. Consequently, more than 99 percent of the Department's mission critical systems will be fixed, tested and installed by the end of September 1999 and the remainder by the end of the year.

This progress follows a large-scale effort to handle Y2K as a military readiness issue, not just as a computer programmer function. In particular, a year ago in August 1998, Secretary Cohen reviewed Y2K compliance in the Department and found it had gotten off to a slow start. To speed the process, he directed DoD's leadership to treat the Y2K issue as a major threat to military readiness. The unified military commands were asked to ensure Y2K testing was included in joint warfighting and operational readiness exercises. The Services and Defense Agencies were instructed to fix their systems, certify interfaces, and ensure vendors were held responsible for Y2K compliance of products. Finally, officials on the Secretary's staff were told to ensure functioning of specific business processes, such as financial transactions, health activities, supply lines, and the like.

These initiatives have accelerated Y2K fixes, testing and implementation. In fact, Y2K has led to the largest testing effort in the Department's history. Examples range from a massive end-to-end test of logistics supply channels to systems tests within the U.S. European Command while operations were being conducted in Kosovo.

"Last year I told the Department's military and civilian leaders that Y2K compliance was a readiness issue that would determine whether we could carry out our most important missions. The Department has made great progress in the past year. All of this progress has been possible through the incredibly hard work and outstanding leadership of DoD's employees throughout the Department. With six months to go before the turn of the year, we can rest assured the Department will be well-positioned to handle its national security responsibilities before, on and after January 1, 2000," Cohen said.

All levels of the Department of Defense are preparing for operations during the Y2K transition period from September 1, 1999 through the leap year date, February 29, 2000 to March 31, 2000. In particular, the Air Force is conducting "Guam Watch," tracking the progress of computer results as the January 1, 2000 date moves around the world. DoD officials are also working with the President's Council on Y2K Conversion to share information with a federal information coordination center. In this way the Federal Government will have a complete understanding of the impacts of Y2K throughout the United States and globally.

The Department has procedures in place to handle its duties in the event any unforeseen circumstance does occur. Back-up, or contingency, plans are being developed at all levels of the Department-from individual systems to those supporting warfighting tasks. The Joint Chiefs of Staff is conducting the Chairman's Contingency Assessments: these assume failure of key warfighting systems so that alternate "workarounds" can be studied and the viability of contingency plans assessed. Unified commanders are assessing the status of host nation support to U.S. nations overseas and developing contingency plans to deal with impacts on military operations and servicemember families.

Over the course of the six-year period from FY 1996 through 2001, DoD expects to spend approximately $3.7 billion for Y2K fixes.

The so-called Millenium Bug, or Y2K problem, refers to the inability of many computers to process certain dates, especially those ending with the digits "00."

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