The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) has attacked US government claims that the public sector Year 2000 problem can be fixed on the cheap for around $2.3 billion.
A report from the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB,) published last Friday and entitled 'Getting Federal Computers Ready For The Year 2000', estimates the cost of converting non-compliant systems as approximately $2.3 billion.
But according to the ITAA, the real figure is almost 15 times higher. James Miller, ITAA president, said: "Outside experts have estimated that government conversion costs will be closer to $30 billion. This report gives the impression that these projects can be done on the cheap with no additional funding."
The report is important because it will be used to shape the Clinton Administration's Year 2000 policy and determine the budget that federal agencies are given to convert their systems. The OMB prepares reports for the president, which are used to set funding priorities for the coming year.
The ITAA cited the examples of the Department of Defense and the Social Security Administration to support its claims. The DoD alone has one billion lines of code that need converting to cope with the date change, while the Social Security Administration has 30 million lines which, by its own estimates, will take 300 man years to correct.
The ITAA, which has given written and verbal testimony on the Year 2000 crisis to US politicans and government agencies, demanded that the numbers be revised to present a more realistic picture of the work public sector IT departments face in the run-up to the millennium.
The publication of the OMB's costings came in the week that President Clinton placed his budget proposals before Congress for approval. "We do not want to see Congress and the Amercian people misled about the costs involved with the Year 2000," said Miller.
But the ITAA did praise the OMB for the emphasis the report places on putting senior figures within government departments in charge of meeting a pre-set Year 2000 conversion timetable. "Putting senior managers in government agencies in charge of the date conversion is a major step forward," admitted Miller.
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