NEWS BRIEFS

Senator releases names of noncompliant vendors

Medical device vendors that did not respond to the federal Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) request for a statement of their devices’ year 2000 compliance status can now see their names printed in the Sept. 23 Congressional Record.1

Angered that less than 40% of the vendors responded to the survey, Sen. Christopher Dodd, (D-CT), and co-chair of the Senate’s Year 2000 committee, requested that the names of the nonrespondents be published "for all Americans to see."

Of the nearly 1,935 medical manufacturers surveyed by the FDA in June, only about 755 replied, according to Dodd. He told his fellow senators that he had been shocked to learn of the "unacceptable low level" of compliance.

"I made it clear [at the July 23 committee hearing] that this sort of attitude was stunningly short-sighted and could only cause harm to both the maker and the users of these devices," he said.

"It is my hope that [publishing the names of the vendors] will serve as a wake-up call to other industries to be vigilant, responsible and pro-active in their efforts to ensure that Americans wake up to a wonderful new year on January first of the year 2000," Dodd said.

Reference

1. 105 Congressional Record S10790 (Sept. 23, 1998).


House panel gives government a D’ for 2000

A House panel gave a "D" grade in early September to the federal government’s overall efforts to fix the year 2000 computer problem, according to the Associated Press.

The panel predicted more than one-third of the most important computer systems won’t be fixed in time, and it estimated the government will spend $6.3 billion on the problem. That is higher than a $5.4 billion estimate the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in Washington, DC, previously projected.

OMB didn’t count estimates from some agencies because it was still trying to determine whether those figures were "appropriate," says OMB spokeswoman Linda Ricci. That amount includes $550 million for the Health and Human Services Department and $295 million for the Treasury Department.

Five agencies criticized in the past for their lack of progress, including Health and Human Services, each earned individual "F" grades, although the Defense and Transportation departments improved slightly since June to a D. The Justice Department fell to an F.

"This is not a grade you take home to your parents, and it is definitely not a grade to take back to the voters and taxpayers," says Rep. Stephen Horn, (R- CA), who is chairman of the technology subcommittee for the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee.

Others receive failing grades

Other agencies earning an F from Horn’s subcommittee included the Energy, State, and Education departments, along with the Agency for International Development.

Three agencies earned an A: the Social Security Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the Small Business Administration.

The subcommittee, which periodically issues its Y2K report cards, says that its $6.3 billion estimate was based on figures submitted by 24 departments and agencies, which they also submitted to the OMB.

Horn also criticized some agencies’ plans to fix the problem by replacing affected computers, saying that could lead to further delays. "When was the last time you heard the government putting a new computer in place on schedule?" asked Horn. "There is no room for the usual slippage. There is no margin for error."