OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Key institutions and agencies have come a long way in Y2K preparedness, says Washington state's Year 2000 Office, which is offering citizens the opportunity to see for themselves.
'A lot of the big things have been solved,' said Dave Workman, communication coordinator for the Washington Year 2000 Office. 'We do know a lot of problems will not happen. Many of the large organizations have been aggressive. So the next thing is to make sure that the public knows that.'
As part of its Y2K information program, the office has created on its web site a way for citizens to see how well local service providers have prepared.
Residents who access www.wa.gov/dis/2000 can plug in the names of the county and city where they live: financial institutions; electric, gas, and telephone companies; emergency services departments, and government and social benefits programs.
After they hit the 'create report' button, a data sheet offers the contact names and phone numbers of the selected agencies, a brief summary of each of their Y2K mitigation efforts and a link to individual web sites.
Much of the information on the 'Year 2000 and You' database was created last summer, but the Y2K office is in the process of asking providers to update their reports.
The web site is one of a number of efforts the state has made to get the word about Y2K out, Workman said. The office has produced a series of readiness reports on public and private sector preparedness, and a series of informational videos, and taped a day of Y2K-related events that was broadcast across the state. It plans another three-day session of expert panels on financial institutions, utilities and health and safety agencies in December.
The efforts appear to have mitigated fears. 'We've done everything we can within reasonable limits' to inform the public,' said Workman. 'Lots and lots of people are getting lots of information, and we just aren't hearing a lot of people who are concerned.'
That view meshes with a report issued in July by the CDB Research and Consulting Group that found 91 percent of adults across the country were aware of the Y2K issue but only 22 percent were very concerned.
According to a recent briefing from the National Governor's Association, retaining that level of confidence through the end of the year is important. Last-minute hoarding of pharmaceuticals or large cash withdrawals could stress distribution systems that otherwise are in good shape.
Contacts: Dave Workman, communication coordinator, Washington State Year 2000 Office, Olympia Wash., 360-586-4280; web site: www.wa.gov/dis/2000. National Governor's Association web site: www.nga.org.
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