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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 14, 1998


                            July 14, 1998
                     National Academy of Sciences

Today, President Clinton will review the Federal Government's efforts to prepare its critical systems for the year 2000 century date change and challenge businesses to take responsibility for making sure that their systems are ready for the new millennium. The President will announce Federal initiatives to promote information sharing on year 2000 efforts and to connect people who have skills for addressing the problem with employers who are in need of their services.

Order of Speakers:

Dr. Bruce Alberts, President, National Academy of Sciences Vice President Gore
President Clinton

See attached fact sheet.


                               July 14, 1998

THE YEAR 2000 PROBLEM. In the second half of the twentieth century, information technology has made possible advances ranging from the ability to invest electronically in markets halfway around the world to satellite tracking of approaching weather systems to ground breaking research to find cures for the most complex diseases.

The year 2000 problem (Y2K) is a threat to that progress. It stems from the use in many computer systems of a two-digit dating method that assumes 1 and 9 are the first two digits of the year. Without programming changes, the systems will recognize 00 not as 2000 but as 1900, which could cause the computers either to shut down or to malfunction on January 1, 2000.

THE CHALLENGE. Y2K is a problem that affects organizations around the world. While the Federal Government is responsible for fixing its critical systems, government and business leaders here and abroad must take responsibility for fixing their systems if we are to succeed in minimiing year 2000-related disruptions. The President and Vice President are leading the Federal efforts and encouraging other governments and private sector organizations to do their part.

PRESIDENT CLINTON ANNOUNCES NEW INITIATIVES TO ADDRESS Y2K CHALLENGE. President Clinton today announced initiatives to help organizations in their efforts to address the year 2000 problem. These initiatives are designed to promote information sharing on Y2K efforts, connect people who have skills for addressing the problem with employers who are in need of their services, and increase awareness of the problem in developing countries.

Year 2000 "Good Samaritan" Legislation. The Administration will submit to Congress proposed legislation to promote a more open sharing of year 2000-related information by protecting those who carefully share information on Y2K solutions or on whether a product or service is Y2K-compliant, from liability claims based on the sharing of that information. The proposed legislation does not, however, address liability that may separately arise from actual Y2K failures of systems or devices, nor is it intended to alter existing contractual rights.

     Example -- Today, leaders of a national industry association 
     might choose not to develop a website on Y2K solutions 
     gathered from several sources for fear that the organization 
     might be held liable for displaying inaccurate information.  
     With the legislation in place, association executives will be 
     more willing to take on this vital clearinghouse function.  
     Unless they know the information is false, their only 
     obligation is to disclose that the information is a republication.

     Example -- Today, a Y2K project manager who tests a particular 
     system and finds it to be non-compliant may be hesitant to 
     share this finding with colleagues in other firms because his 
     company attorney has warned him that spreading such 
     information could lead to product disparagement suits.  With 
     the legislation in place, this manager could feel confident 
     in relaying his experiences to others because he will have 
     additional protections against liability.  The legislation
     protects anyone sharing such information unless they act with
     knowledge that the information was false or with reckless 
     disregard as to the truth or falsity of the information.

Labor Department World Wide Web Y2K Job Bank. The Labor Department today established a Y2K information technology (IT) version of America's Job Bank/America's Talent Bank (AJB/ATB) at in order to concentrate the supply (workers) and the demand (jobs) in the IT industry in a single place. The product of a unique partnership between the Department and the States, AJB/ATB, at, already provides a significant penetration into the area of computer and high-tech jobs and talent, with approximately 40,000 resumes and 120,000 IT jobs listed.

World Bank Contribution. The United States will contribute $12 million to support the World Bank's efforts to increase awareness of the year 2000 problem in developing countries, where Y2K information is scarce. The Bank is holding 20 regional Y2K conferences around the world to increase awareness and provide information about the problem to developing countries.

National Campaign for Year 2000 Solutions. Later this month, the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion will kick off its "National Campaign for Year 2000 Solutions" to promote public and private sector action on Y2K and to foster information-sharing about solutions.

PRESIDENT CLINTON'S COMMITMENT TO INCREASING AWARENESS OF Y2K. President Clinton is committed to encouraging businesses to focus on fixing their year 2000 problems.

In February, he established the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion to coordinate the Government's efforts to increase awareness of the problem and encourage action in public and private sector organizations. The Council's 34 agency working groups are focused on areas that range from energy to telecommunications to financial institutions.

The Small Business Administration, chair of the small business working group, is focused on increasing awareness of the problem among the Nation's more than 20 million small businesses. As part of its "Are You Y2K OK?" campaign, SBA is encouraging small business owners to determine their Y2K risk by conducting a self-assessment test available on SBA's Internet Y2K web page (

The Energy Department and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, co-chairs of the energy working group, are working with industry associations such as the North American Electric Reliability Council, the American Petroleum Institute, the Natural Gas Council, and the Gas Industry Standards Board to ensure that the energy industry is addressing the problem as it relates to electric power and oil and gas supplies.

The Federal Communications Commission, co-chair of the Council's telecommunications working group, is meeting with domestic and international telecommunications carriers and equipment manufacturers to discuss Y2K, and has written to major companies and organizations in all sectors of the industry to emphasize the importance of addressing the problem.

The Federal Reserve, chair of the financial institutions working group, and other Federal financial regulatory agencies are making year 2000 progress a key component of their examinations of banks and other financial institutions and promoting industry-wide systems testing.

President Clinton is also committed to increasing international awareness of the problem.

The President has discussed Y2K with heads of state at both the G-8 Birmingham summit and the Summit of the Americas. Also, under the President's leadership, the Year 2000 Council worked closely with the United Nations on the draft of a recently passed UN resolution that calls upon all member states to act on the problem.