The government is seeing in the new year amid a sudden flurry of millennium bug-related activities, but its critics say these are too little, too late.
Prime minister Tony Blair, who has been attacked for not taking a personal lead in Year 2000 campaigns within Whitehall and in the private sector, has set up a millennium Ministerial Group. It will be chaired by Margaret Beckett, president of the board of trade, to spearhead work underway in the public and private sectors.
Blair also answered recent criticisms that the public sector is confused and complacent about the millennium problem by outlining the Year 2000 responsibilities of the major government departments. Their activities will be overseeen by the Ministerial Group.
Said Blair: ?I am determined to tackle the problem of the century date change, both across government and private sector. Action 2000 is already doing very good work and today we are asking Don Cruickshank to advise on the public sector as well. I want the UK to take a leading role in the world in tackling the century date change.?
The prime minister?s actions follow weeks of reports that the government is two months behind schedule in publishing its action plans for a project which the Liberal Democrats calculate could cost Whitehall departments #1 billion.
David Clark, minister for public services refuted the claims and said it would cost #370 million to put Whitehall systems to right. He claimed the majority of departments and agencies would be ready by December 1998. Blair?s message was welcomed by Robin Guenier, executive director of Taskforce 2000, which had been calling for the prime minister?s personal involvement for some time.
However he still does not believe the government understands the full extent of the problem. He said: ?I?m pleased about the prime ministerial and Cabinet involvement but it must be the start of a real government drive on the issue, not simply a sop to dampen criticism.? He believed the government?s estimate of a #370 million price tag is a quarter of what the real figure could be.
Ssupermassive black hole is so big it corresponds to four per cent of the galaxy's total mass
Imminent attack will target a single bank with cloned cards used to fraudulently withdraw millions over one weekend
Using photocatalysts to convert carbon dioxide into usable energy such as methane or ethane
Trained on curated data from Moorfields Eye Hospital, the neural network also shows clinicians how it reached its judgement