Last week saw a number of cracks appearing in the "everything will be all right on the night" attitude to the Year 2000 problem. The first and most noticeable one was the reaction to Tony "I see a New Millennium for Britain" Blair's plans to solve Y2K with some cash and rhetoric.
The Tony Plan looks like this: there's a #1,300 grant per person to train 20,000 bug-busters. Blair also promised #40 million to set up a network of centres of excellence in IT training.
While there is no doubt that this is a step in the right direction - it's too little, too late. Even Blair admitted that the skills shortage was numbered at 50,000 - 30,000 more than the 20,000 that will receive government aid.
Blair also admitted that central government's estimates of the cost of the bug have escalated from #370 million to #400 million. Total public sector cost - which includes NHS Trusts and local government - has been put at #3 billion. Even so, the government has cut Year 2000 funding to the NHS - a move that has outraged the Trust authorities and IT managers that PC Week has spoken to.
Even the Taskforce 2000 head, Robin Guenier, was quoted, after the Blair speech, as saying: "How can we tell other people what to do when our public sector is so far behind?" This doesn't even include the 25% of UK companies that have, in their wisdom, done nothing about Y2K compliance yet.
Public sector ills and government candy aside, problems in the private sector are already raising their ugly heads. The nation's telecoms giant is currently under fire from a number of its large outsourcing customers.
They want to know from BT - their supplier - how to tackle the millennium threat? Perfectly reasonable request. However, they are now up in arms claiming that BT is not telling them. BT has admitted in a letter, with regards to its systems compliance, that "... BT is unable to give the required declaration at present. Your BT account team will brief you as work progresses." Heartening, isn't it?
If you are running a small, medium, or large company and are facing the Year 2000 dilemma, then let us know what you think about the reaction of big business and the government on this issue. Just send your opinions to PC Week ([email protected]) and we'll make sure they're seen.
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