London councils reacted angrily to a report, published today, that says time may be running out for local authorities to address the Year 2000 issue.
Paul Smith, research manager at public sector IT consultancy Kable, which carried out the research, claimed: "What we?re seeing at ground level is a ?head in the sand? attitude of ?I know it?s a problem and we?re sorting it out?. But nothing is happening.?
Less than four per cent of interviewees from local councils cited the Year 2000 as a current business pressure, according to the report.
The survey, which interviewed officers responsible for IT from 470 councils, found that nearly half (46 per cent) felt that business practices would not change during the next three years. Over half (51 per cent) stated that limited resources were the greatest pressure.
Smith added: ?The essential problem faced by local government is that it is so diffuse - there is an incredible chain of responsibility between departments with a senior person in them.?
But councils denied they were ignoring the problem. Lambeth Council?s Year 2000 project manager, Alastair Seaton, said: ?We view this as a management problem rather than a technical one. Virtually everything we have is standard local authority software so, as part of our licensing agreement, we?d expect the supplier to look at it.?
He added: ?Anyone who says they can eliminate the problems is pulling the wool over someone?s eyes.?
Kable?s report states that one of the main problems for local government is a lack of funds. But Seaton asserted: ?We are quite content. We have adequate resources to address the problem. All the work is being undertaken within the current IT budget.?
A spokesperson for another London council, Lewisham, said: ?Whoever said we aren?t prepared for the new millennium hasn?t been to Lewisham. We have put aside #210,000 to sort out the problem over the next two years. We?re determined we?ll do our best not to get caught out.?
Kable's Smith believes local councils are getting insufficient help from central government. He said: ?Central government still hasn?t got its act together which is why it isn?t stepping in to help.?
Glynis Rockett, a representative from the District Audit, an organisation set up by the government, said: ?While auditors cannot and will not promise to solve clients? potential Year 2000 software problems, we can help clients confront the issue.?
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