ResearchWire – Year 2000: Millenium Milestone or Mishap?


Year 2000: Millenium Milestone or Mishap?

By Genie Tyburski

Genie Tyburski is the Research Librarian for Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the editor of The Virtual Chase Web Site: A Research Site for Legal Professionals.

(Posted March 19, 1997; Archived April 21, 1997)

As the year 2000 approaches, predictions and warnings hail our attention. A millenium. For some, the time presents a milestone by which to measure achievements. For many, however, the year threatens disaster. Why? Technical experts caution that many computers and software programs cannot distinguish between the year 2000 and the year 1900.

As Keith Berkland explains in last month’s feature article, “2000 and 1,” the miscalculations and errors likely to result from this programming oversight poses a problem of such magnitude that some predict numerous businesses will fail as a direct result. I will not repeat those forbodings.

Instead, I offer a research guide from which legal professionals may discover more information, and perhaps, solutions. The guide links to:

  1. articles that detail the many legal scenarios likely to result from Year 2000 miscalculations,
  2. industry studies and white papers,
  3. recommended compliance contract language,
  4. federal actions,
  5. state actions,
  6. and corrective software or upgrades.

Legal Articles

Galkin, William S., “Negotiating the End of the Millennium,” Computer Law Observer (December 1996) at URL — William S. Galkin, a technology and intellectual property lawyer, briefly discusses the magnitude of the computing error and what he believes businesses should do to deal with the problem.

Jinnett, Jeff, “Legal Issues Concerning the Year 2000 ‘Millennium Bug,'” Com.Links Magazine (August 21, 1996, revised January 1, 1997) at URL; second copy at URL — Jeff Jinnett, Of Counsel to LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, L.L.P. and President of LeBoeuf Computing Technologies, Inc., discusses the history of the Year 2000 problem, the potential obligation of outsourcing vendors to fix it, contract issues, disclosure, relevant securities laws, federal compliance mandates, insurance issues, and areas of potential litigation.

Jinnett, Jeff, “Legal Issues Confronting the Federal Government and the State Governments Due To the Year 2000 ‘Millennium Bug,'” Com.Links Magazine (November 18, 1996, revised January 1, 1997) — Jinnett examines “(a) the scope of the Year 2000 problem at the federal government and state government levels, (b) the status of federal and state corrective efforts, (c) technical, legal and regulatory issues which may influence how the federal government and state governments should approach Year 2000 corrective efforts, including issues relating to the creation of multi-state compacts, municipal securities disclosure requirements, disclosures of Year 2000 problems required under GAAP, federal and state disaster relief procedures, federal and state mandates to the private sector as to Year 2000 compliancy and potential tort claims liability of federal and state agencies if they fail to become Year 2000 compliant, and (d) the need for coordination between the federal government and the state governments and between the federal government and the governments of other nations.”

Loundy, David, “The Millennium Bug Will Bite You,” Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (November 14, 1996) at URL — David Loundy briefly introduces the problem and then offers a simple test for determining whether or not one’s computer is Year 2000 compliant. He then explains that even though the hardware may comply, the software one runs may not. He refers readers to sample compliance contract language and mentions some of the legal scenarios likely to take place at the turn of the new century.

Reid, Warren S., “2001: A Legal Odyssey,” (1996, revised January 14, 1997) at URL — Warren S. Reid examines the litigation trend “as a solution to failed systems and failed systems projects.” He offers a defense checklist for those who may find themselves in court over the Year 2000 “bug.”

“Solve Your Year2000 Problem Now or Risk Being Sued,” (date unknown) at URL — Precana L. Thompson, Caper Jones, and Warren S. Reid outline many of the legal consequences businesses may experience as a result of the “Year 2000” bug.

Tanenbaum, William A., “Computer Software and Year 2000 Compliance,” Com.Links Magazine (1996, revised January 1, 1997) at URL — William A. Tanenbaum, a partner with Rogers & Wells, outlines a four step procedure for becoming Year 2000 compliant. He discusses software agreements, potential liability, and due diligence.

Vendor Liability and the Y2000 Crisis,” (original publication date unknown, revised January 14, 1997) at URL — The article results from an INPUT interview of lawyers at the Washington, D.C. law firm, Arter & Hadden. It considers software copyright issues for those revising code for Year 2000 compliance and mentions other legal concerns like contractual and tort liability.

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Industry Studies and White Papers

Gartner Group, “Time Marches On — Less Than 900 Working Days to January 1, 2000,” (June 28, 1996) at URL — Gartner Group requires readers to submit basic identifying information before reading this report. It offers an explanation of the problem and some interesting “did you know” statistics like: “one out of every five enterprises will have addressed the year 2000 date change in their information systems by the end of 1997. [Those who] do so will represent the new leaders in their respective industries.”

Information Technology Association of America Systems, “The Year 2000 Software Conversion: Issues and Observations,” (January 1996) at URL — This ITAA White Paper discusses the potential calculation errors, the information technology industry’s obligation to fix the problem, and conversion options.

J.P. Morgan, “The Year 2000 Problem,” (1997) at URL — Also available in portable document format (.pdf), J.P. Morgan’s extensive report discusses the magnitude of the problem, its potential economic effects, various options for corporations, related Year 2000 problems, criteria for judging Year 2000 consultants, and more.

The MITRE Corporation, “Y2K,” at URL — The Electronic Systems Center of the Air Force Material Command (AFMC/ESC), Hanscom Air Force Base (HAFB), Massachusetts and The MITRE Corporation provide this Year 2000 web site to disseminate information about the “millennium bug.” It offers the text of Congressional testimony, a background briefing paper prepared on November 29, 1995 at the request of Anita Jones, the Director of Defense Research and Engineering, the Y2K Triage Scorecard, a management tool for providing periodic reports on the Y2K risks that may impact an organization’s ability to do its job, compliance information, and a Year 2000 Tools and Services Catalog, and more.

Social Security Administration White Paper (July 1995) at URL — The White Paper discusses how SSA is addressing the problem.

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Compliance Contract Language

Feathers, Timothy J., “Year 2000 Compliance Agreement,” at URL

Feathers, Timothy J., “Year 2000 Warranty,” at URL

General Services Administration (GSA), Recommended Year 2000 Contract Language for federal agencies at URL; second copy at URL

GTE Corporation, Proposed Criteria for “Century Compliance,” (1995, revised June 19, 1996) at URL

Minnesota, Information Policy Office, Year 2000 Compliance: Information Resource Performance Standards, May 15, 1996 at URL

Minnesota, Office of the Attorney General, Year 2000 Language for Overload Contract, April 9, 1996 at URL

National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Commerce, Change Notice to FIPS PUB 4-1 (March 25, 1996), Representation for Calendar Date and Ordinal Date for Information Interchange at URL

Naval Information Systems Management Center, memorandum from Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force, concerning contract language for Year 2000 compliance at URL

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Federal Actions


S.22, “To establish a bipartisan national commission to address the year 2000 computer problem,” current (105th) Congress

S.2131, “To establish a bipartisan national commission on the year 2000 computer problem,” 104th Congress

H.R. 3230, sec. 831, DoD appropriations bill, 104th Congress

House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, Is January 1, 2000 the Date for Computer Disaster? hearing held on April 16, 1996; partial testimony available at URL

House Committee on Science, Solving the Year 2000 Software Problem: Creating Blueprints for Success, hearing held on May 14, 1996 at URL

House Committee on Science and Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, Solving the Year 2000 Computer Problem, joint hearing held September 10, 1996 at URL


DoD, GSA, and NASA, Federal Acquisition Regulation on Year 2000 Compliance, interim rule with request for comments, 62 Fed.Reg. 273, January 2, 1997; second copy at URL; third copy at URL

GAO Report T-AIMD-97-52, Year 2000 Computing Crisis: Risk of Serious Disruption to Essential Government Functions Calls for Agency Action Now, February 27, 1997

GAO Report T-AIMD-97-51, Year 2000 Computing Crisis: Strong Leadership Today Needed To Prevent, February 24, 1997

HHS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Proposed Data Collections Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations, notice 62 Fed.Reg. 8022, February 21, 1997

OCC Advisory Letter 96-4, The Effect of Year 2000 on Computer Systems at URL

OMB Report, “Getting Federal Computers Ready for 2000,” February 6, 1997

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State Actions

Find out how states are dealing with the Year 2000 problem:
Alaska California Florida Idaho Indiana
Iowa Massachusetts Minnesota New York Oregon
Pennsylvania Texas Utah Virginia Washington
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Corrective Software and Upgrades

Audit Serve, Inc., Year 2000 Readiness Tracking at URL — The site offers a table that tracks vendor and operating system Year 2000 compliance.

IBM, Year 2000 Tools, at URL — Primarily for programmers, this page offers several technical resources for identifying and fixing “Year 2000” problems.

Management Support Technology Corporation, The Year 2000 Resource Book at URL — Order this book from the Web site or review its table of contents. It devotes an entire section to 40 solution vendors.

RighTime at URL — The site offers software fixes for various hardware and operating systems. Product Vendors at URL — The site offers numerous links to vendors offering Year 2000 fixes.

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Select “Year 2000” Sites

Com.Links Magazine

Bill Cook’s Y2K Resource Links

DoN, The Year 2000 Challenge

Year 2000 Information Center

Year 2000 Information Network

The Year 2000 Resource

Posted in: ResearchWire, Year 2000