Headlines: September 11th, 1998

Public sector organisations which fail to meet deadlines to tackle the Millennium bug can expect to be tackled by the Government.In her latest quarterly report to Parliament, Margaret Beckett, who chairs the Cabinet Committee responsible for co-ordinating action on the Millennium Bug, points to business and Government working openly together as a key factor in progress so far.As well as Government departments, government agencies such as the NHS and local government are seeing their progress monitored. The BBC, Civil Aviation Authority, Bank of England and Post Office are also contributing to the monitoring process.The turn of the century is expected to confuse older computers and computer-driven equipment not designed to recognise a four character change.Mrs Beckett said: “The latest returns show that good progress is being made by departments and agencies in tackling the bug. More than half of departments and agencies report that 50% or more of the necessary correction work on business critical systems has already been completed and in a fifth of cases this figure is as high as 90%.”However, there has also been some slippage in a number of target dates for completing compliance work since the last review and a number of the target dates remain close to the end of 1999. The returns also show that greater focus needs to be given to embedded and telecommunication systems and contingency planning needs. I am raising these issues with colleagues and will continue to chase progress.”Information on how different groups are working on the bug are published on theGovernment’s Year 2000 website: www.open.gov.uk/year2000.