Government and industry Year 2000 experts this week defended criticism that the billions of dollars spent fixing the millennium bug were wasted.
The changeover to 2000 passed relatively incident free, raising concern that too much money was poured into Y2K. Gartner Group estimates that up to $600 billion was spent on Y2K worldwide, but says it was money well spent.
Industry experts noted that much of the money was spent on new systems or improving older ones, which would have been a significant benefit to the companies aside from avoiding the millennium bug.
Action 2000, the UK's millennium bug watchdog, said the amount of money and the work carried out had ensured that the UK and the rest of the world had managed to escape the bug.
Gartner analyst Matt Hotle said: "Substantial amounts of money have been spent, and it appears, at least initially, that organisations are getting what they paid for: operational hardware and software."
He added: "The Year 2000 date change is a no-win situation for organisations. If they spent huge sums correcting the problem and major failures occurred, they would have spent too little. If they spent exorbitant amounts and experience few, or no, major problems, then the perception is that too much was spent. We prefer the latter."
An Action 2000 spokeswoman said a number of problems had been discovered during the run-up to the date change which could have had "serious implications" had they not been fixed.
These included telephone exchange faults that would have resulted in no dial tone, and the breakdown of closed circuit television in the train and underground systems.
Margaret Beckett, the UK's Y2K cabinet minister, praised the work done and money spent fighting the bug. "British industry is far better equipped and in better shape for the new century than could have been the case had this tremendous effort not been made," she said.
She added: "Inevitably some people are now questioning whether the effort was worth it. The investment of time and money has been vital to provide the safety and continuity of services on which the public and business rightly expect to depend."
Hotle said there were other benefits to the amount of money and time spent on remediation.
Gartner's Hotle said organisations spent on average up to 40 per cent of their IT budgets on Y2K fixes. Up to 75 per cent of the budget of these projects was spent on testing.
"Organisations have long decried the poor quality software they have been delivered. Perhaps Year 2000 programs are an indication that if resources are allocated properly to software development, high-quality applications are possible," he said.
Meanwhile, experts are warning that the danger period is not over, noting that Y2K associated glitches could occur throughout the year, particularly on 29 February 2000 when computers may fail to recognise the extra leap day.
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