Chapter 3 -- Supporting Regional Cooperation

Global Overview of IYCC Regions

  • 197 countries in eight IYCC regions
  • 180 national coordinators identified by IYCC
  • 45 regional meetings
  • 163 countries participated in regional activities
  • 159 countries participated in the Global Status Watch (GSW)

National Y2K coordinators found support, cooperation, and leadership from neighboring countries in their geographical regions. In February 1999 the IYCC Steering Committee formalized a structure of regional coordination developed at the December 1998 U.N. meeting. Each region would have a regional coordinator who would serve on the Steering Committee and be responsible for promoting cooperation and information sharing on Y2K among the countries in the region.

The eight regions were: Asia, Central American and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, North America, Middle East and North Africa, South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Western Europe. These regions varied greatly in size, demographics, their dependence on technology, and history. North America was comprised of three countries with close ties, while Asia and Africa presented great diversity. These underlying variations influenced the way each region organized itself and the nature of regional cooperation.

Three regions, Central America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and South America formed regional coordination centers staffed by the regional coordinator's host government. The Sub-Saharan Africa region formed a virtual coordination center through its Africa Working Group. These four regions launched regional web pages and would submit reports periodically detailing the progress of their region. These regions, as well as the Asia region, were able to organize and perform the necessary work based on the financial support of the infoDev program and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

In addition to supporting regional activities, the UNDP Information Technology and Communications for Development program provided grassroots support to local organizations in addressing Y2K issues through the UNDP’s Sustainable Development Networking Program units in over 40 countries. The UNDP established its own IY2K center web site to coordinate the Y2K effort of its U. N. country offices, and software remediation materials were distributed to 140 offices through which they were made available to government counterparts.

Two regions, North America and Western Europe benefited greatly from existing structures in their coordination and information sharing efforts. And, worldwide, existing diplomatic and economic groupings of countries such as the G8 played a variety of roles in the global Y2K effort. Each region's Y2K history, challenges and successes are described below.

Details of the regional conferences can be found at Appendix E, and countries' regional participation as noted in the "Country Participation Chart" can be found at Appendix F.

1. Asia

  • 39 countries in the Asia region
  • 35 national coordinators identified by IYCC
  • 34 countries participated in regional activities
  • 4 regional meetings
  • 26 countries participated in the GSW

Asia was the most diverse region that the IYCC attempted to organize. Stretching from Pakistan to Fiji, from Korea to New Zealand, and including China, India, Indonesia, Japan, and Australia, Asia spans great distances, multiple languages and cultures, and a wide range of economic development. This combination of factors means that common regional interests and interdependencies are relatively limited. Commerce is the most common link, and thus the "global" sectors -- finance, telecommunications, and sea and air transport were the most important interdependencies. There is little sharing of energy or health services across borders in the region.

The principal task in Asia was to help assure that each country had a strong national Y2K program. Fortunately, strong leadership from the Philippine and Japanese governments, and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum6 aided this task. In March 1999, the Philippine government, under the leadership of Amable Aguiluz V, the Asia regional coordinator, hosted the first Asian Regional Y2K Coordinators Meeting in Manila with participation from fourteen Asian governments (Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Guam, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, Palau, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam). The participants shared national Y2K strategies and agreed to continue sharing information across borders on Y2K readiness, best practices, embedded systems, and Y2K failures and successes.

This conference was followed up in April 1999 by a meeting in Singapore organized under APEC auspices by Canada, Japan, and Singapore as part of "APEC Y2K Week." Y2K officials attended from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Guinea, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Taiwan. The overall focus of the conference was on cross-border impacts of Y2K on critical economic infrastructures within the region, (telecommunications, transportation, financial services, energy and customs sectors) as well as the problems unique to small and medium-sized enterprises. Sector-specific insights included: the need to involve Internet service providers in addressing telecommunications readiness; the importance of addressing supply chain dependencies (e.g., petroleum) in the electricity sector; the importance of maintaining public confidence when addressing Y2K in the financial services sector; the importance of having contingency plans to assure the continued flow of goods should customs systems fail; the need to support the International Maritime Organization’s Y2K efforts; and the importance of outreach to small and medium-sized enterprises. In addition, the participants identified the need to create networks of sector experts.

The UNDP also played a role in the Asia region through its Asia-Pacific Development Information Program, which provided indirect support through regional workshops that covered Y2K readiness measures.

At the June 1999 U. N. meeting, coordinators from all Asian countries shared their latest progress and identified priorities for the remaining six months. The importance of increasing transparency by providing accurate information about country readiness emerged as a prime concern. A need for analysis of the scope and impact of the embedded systems problem, the need for contingency planning, and the importance of continued sharing of best practices and contact information were also noted. Following this meeting, India and Korea prepared analyses of the embedded chip problem, which were circulated in the Asia region. These reports emphasized that dealing with equipment vendors was the primary means for addressing the embedded chip problem, and noted the repeated difficulties faced by developing countries in getting prompt, cost-effective solutions from vendors. In particular, the reports highlighted the need for validated lists of Y2K compliance in devices with embedded chips. The IYCC’s attempts to respond to this latter need are discussed in the sector discussions on electricity and health.

The earlier APEC recommendation to create networks of experts was acted on at the APEC Economic Leaders Summit in Auckland on 13 September 1999. The Leaders endorsed an "APEC 100 Days Cooperation Initiative" proposed jointly by Japan and the United States. The initiative promoted information sharing before and during the date change using the IYCC as a resource.

As part of its follow up to the APEC initiative, Japan hosted a meeting of national energy experts later in September 1999. This meeting established an ongoing contact network among electricity generation and distribution organizations (public and private) in the Asia-Pacific region. Notwithstanding the limited regional interdependencies in energy, the sector network shared best practices and provided an important mutual support network. Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, the Philippines, and the United States participated. The network exchanged information regularly by e-mail and telephone during the rest of the year and during the rollover. This network was unique in Asia, and effectively utilized web sites and electronic mailing list, as well as face-to- face meetings, to build strong communications directly among energy system operators.

Asia regional work was concluded at the final regional meeting held in Tokyo in late September 1999 co-chaired by Japan and the Philippines. Australia, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Korea, the Kyrgyz Republic, Malaysia, Micronesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam also participated. In addition to sharing contingency plans, sector updates, and public information strategies, the participants focused on the importance of increasing transparency about national preparations, including submitting surveys to the IYCC, the International Telecommunications Union, and the International Civil Aviation Organization. They also agreed to participate in the IYCC GSW, the rollover reporting system.

Japan continued to take a strong leadership role in the region for the rest of the year. In addition to supporting the energy experts network, it committed $5 million to the UNDP on a contingent basis to support Y2K diagnostic and reconstitution work. Prior to the rollover, it conducted an outreach mission in Indonesia to prepare for such an eventuality.

By December 1999 the Asia region appeared mostly ready for Y2K. All but one of the Asian countries that submitted their survey to the IYCC reported that they had an average completion date for remediation in their critical sectors prior to October 1999. Public concern remained, however, with respect to the readiness of air traffic control systems in the Indian subcontinent as evidenced by some airline statements. Speculation about financial and banking readiness in some southeast Asian countries led to slight disinvestment in that subregion. Early international business concern about the readiness of suppliers (particularly in the electronics industry) and infrastructure had waned based on significant progress, supported by public and proprietary reporting. The region fared well during the rollover and in January 2000, experiencing scattered, moderate disruptions in Pakistan and the Philippines, and minor glitches elsewhere.

Given the challenges of distance, language, and economic diversity, the success of the Asia networks is instructive. Collaboration began relatively early under Philippine leadership. Australia and Japan were also leaders in this region, providing funding through multilateral mechanisms to assist developing Asian countries. Japan, under the leadership of Kaoru Ishikawa of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, sustained a strong and welcome commitment through year’s end.

The role of APEC, an established, official forum is also of interest. Some APEC delegates, primarily from ministries of foreign affairs, sometimes had difficulty connecting with their own national coordinators. However, by September 1999 the organization could take credit for facilitating the formation of useful networks of experts and conducting contingency planning workshops

2. Central America and the Caribbean

  • 27 countries in the Central America and the Caribbean region
  • 27 national coordinators identified by IYCC
  • 24 countries participated in regional activities
  • 10 regional meetings
  • 25 countries participated in the GSW

The Central America and the Caribbean (CAC) region consists of two regional subsets that interfaced on Y2K. These are the Spanish speaking mainland of Central America, joined by the islands of Cuba and the Dominican Republic and the remainder of the Caribbean joined by Belize, Guyana and Suriname. In addition, Haiti speaks French and Suriname speaks Dutch.

Major dependencies in many countries in this region centered on oil and diesel fuel distribution, with most oil produced in Mexico, Venezuela, and Trinidad & Tobago, and most diesel fuel from Mexico and Venezuela. Lastly, these countries have cross-border dependencies in aviation as they share regional hubs for international flights.

The coordination for this region was well supported by leadership from the Mexican government, which established a Y2K regional coordination team with a budget and full-time personnel. They operated in the same offices of the Year 2000 National Conversion Commission, reporting to the regional coordinator, Carlos Jarque and later to Antonio Puig. The Y2K experience showed that the Central America and the Caribbean region as well as Mexico (which was part of the North American region), has an enormous coordination capacity, despite geographical dispersion, two different predominant languages, and variant level of preparedness.

The CAC regional coordination team developed and hosted a Y2K regional web page at http://www.y2k.gob.mx/ingles/ingcoope/index.htm. All conference documents, sector expert papers, Y2K tools, links to national Y2K web pages, and national coordinator contact information could be found on this page.

This region was dynamic, with nine regional meetings since August 1998. In March 1999, expert working groups were formed on aviation and electric power to address their two major dependencies. Finance, telecommunications and health were formed soon thereafter. Each sector, plus tourism, customs and social security was emphasized in at least one of the meetings.

Each regional meeting had specific objectives and important outcomes. The sector meetings were focused on ensuring cross-border continuity of services throughout the rollover period. As an example, the electricity expert working group focused their attention on the need for coordinated action especially for trunk lines between Mexico-Belize and Honduras-Nicaragua-Costa Rica-Panama. They shared their contingency plans, maintained power levels, and had open communication lines during the date transition period. For both the regional and sector meetings, different countries in the CAC region took leadership roles to organize and host the conferences.

Public awareness was of significant importance within the region for its tourism and other businesses, and the regional coordination team worked with national governments to handle the media in a proactive and effective manner. Many countries developed extensive public education campaigns on Y2K based on a regional information disclosure and communication strategy. The regional coordination team assisted by helping each national coordinator prepare for rollover coordination, developing and distributing sector expert directories, emphasizing cross border interdependencies and testing where applicable, and serving as a key interface for the region with international sector or donor organizations.

For the rollover period, the national coordinators in this region were already well positioned both nationally and regionally to handle any Y2K problems and to work together as a region. All twenty-three countries that submitted their readiness survey to the IYCC reported an average remediation completion date before October 1999. The CAC region was well prepared, and the majority of countries reported having contingency plans adopted and approved for the majority of their critical sectors.

Nearly all countries in the region participated in the GSW and shared that their systems were operating normally during and after the date change. Only two countries, Grenada and Nicaragua, reported minor glitches in government services. The region faired well as a result of the coordination and early preparations. In addition the dependencies on technology were not very high in most countries, and their common languages, close proximity and similar cultures made sharing timely information easier.

Some of the lessons learned in this region include that Y2K success lay in understanding that this was not an information problem, but a management challenge that needed to receive the highest political priority. Second, the appointment of official national coordinators who were able to make decisions and communicate them to the rest of the world quickly via the Internet and electronic mail was important. Third, sharing experiences, tools, databases, guides and products was important in view of the short period in which the work had to be carried out.

3. Eastern Europe and Central Asia

  • 28 countries in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region
  • 28 national coordinators identified by IYCC
  • 26 countries participated in regional activities
  • 8 regional meetings
  • 26 countries participated in the GSW
Broadly defined, Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) encompasses 28 nations, geographically positioned from Western Europe through the former Soviet Union. The region overall is characterized by cultural, language, economic and geographic similarities and differences which would both help serve and hinder close coordination on Y2K.

The similarities were that each had participated, to varying degrees, as command driven economies under the former Soviet Union. Strong institutions existed within the state sector, and most had limited private sectors. Also, many sectors were not as technology dependent as their Western European counterparts. Geographic distances and languages were two constraints to regional cooperation and coordination. Many meetings were held in Russian.

Interdependencies within a region as large as ECA were typified by cross border connections in the electric power grid, telecommunications, shared air traffic control systems and transport. Of these, particular concern both within the region and throughout the rest of the world was on its power production, especially its nuclear power plants and electrical power plants, as well as telecommunications interconnections.

As the regional coordinator, Mario Tagarinski, Minister of Public Administration for the government of Bulgaria developed the Regional Y2K Cooperation Center (RCC), based in Sofia, Bulgaria to serve as the region's coordinating focus on Y2K. The RCC benefited from the support provided by infoDev and UNDP. Understanding the region's needs and interdependencies, the RCC took important actions early to address one of its principle concerns, energy production. Starting in early1999, ECA hosted eight regional conferences. The focus of three of the conferences was on the energy sector and nuclear power.

For the conferences and for national support, the RCC elicited technical assistance from regional and international organizations that provided valuable expertise to each participating country. The conferences were technical in focus with an emphasis on national preparedness. Unlike Western Europe that had strong sector organizations and national private sectors to draw upon, the ECA region actively sought assistance from the international community to support national and regional Y2K initiatives.

Considering the hard social and economic conditions under which some of the countries in the region worked to solve the Y2K problem, global cooperation was vital to prepare an effective response to Y2K in the region. While the implementation of remediation measures differed from country to country, the ECA region realized early that country plans were not fully shared with interfacing organizations and/or countries.

With this in mind, the RCC took action to share contingency plans, establish communications networks, and participate in joint training in implementation of the energy sector contingency plans. The region held discussions among electricity providers on the interconnectivity of their electricity grids, and between electricity providers and key oil and gas companies that interface with each other and/or are dependent upon each other and these grids. Contingencies were discussed in regard to safe shut downs of nuclear power stations and assuring continuous power should large groups of consumers turn systems on and off simultaneously before and after the rollover period.

In addition, the RCC developed a dynamic web page at http://www.govrn.bg/y2k/regy2kcenter/index.html. This page provided national coordinators' contact information, links to their home pages, and enabled the user to send and view questions. In addition, it provided a reporting structure for the national coordinators in the region to share their status and request assistance.

Before the rollover, the ECA region seemed less prepared than many other regions, as they reported the latest average remediation completion dates. Based on the information reported in the surveys, the majority of ECA countries had not completed their remediation prior to October 1999 and less than a third had contingency plans adopted and approved in a majority of its critical sectors. The countries did indicate that they would be prepared by December 1999, and that they would have appropriate plans in place prior to the new year.

To monitor the rollover, countries established national command and information centers to work with government and industry information and emergency operations centers to gather information on system operations during the date rollover. Most of these centers already existed to handle unexpected developments not related to the year 2000 transition. The national coordinators from 27 countries worked with their national centers to share appropriate and timely information to RCC and the IYCC through a web connection.

Bulgaria's RCC and the IYCC learned of noY2K problems of consequence nationally or within the region following the millennium rollover. As noted in the nuclear energy section, however, Y2K work must continue in nuclear power plants in this region.

Reasons for national successes in the ECA region include an inherent centralized management and control of resources in each country and a monopoly of operators in critical sectors that made national coordination easier. The low reliance on information technology enabled national coordinators to focus their efforts on mission critical systems in fewer critical infrastructures than more developed countries. The attention of the rest of the world on nuclear power plants and energy production in this cold climate region may have helped to push national coordinators to take action in proper time. Lastly, the ECA's countries benefited from the strong coordination, prompt reporting and continuous information sharing under the leadership of the Bulgarian coordination team.

A great frustration for many national coordinators in the region was continuing skepticism from outside as to its Y2K readiness. Many commentators erroneously believed that some of the newly independent states would experience serious disruptions from Y2K, and took action to limit their risks. For example, the United States warned against travel to Belarus, Moldova, Russia, and the Ukraine, and allowed non-essential personnel from its embassies in those countries to leave. As it turned out, these precautions thankfully proved unnecessary.

One example of the problem of effective communications involved the perceived Y2K readiness of Gazprom, the Russian natural gas producer. International concern went beyond Russia itself, as many other European countries depend on Gazprom for supplies. Gazprom had a Y2K web page in Russian, but there was little independent, English-language information available to confirm Gazprom’s readiness assertions. However, in contrast to the concerns of some, Finland, which is completely dependent on Russia for natural gas supplies, was confident of Gazprom’s readiness. On 13 December 1999, at the request of the IYCC, the Finnish gas distribution company, Gasum, posted on its web site (www.gasum.fi) its own assessment in English of the natural gas situation, which had appeared in Finnish on 2 December 1999. The detailed report of Gasum’s inspections of Gazprom (see text box) could have reassured many that the Y2K risk to Gazprom was very low. Ultimately, the reasons for the region’s inability to effectively communicate its readiness, and for rest of the world’s inability to hear that communication, bear further study.

Natural gas deliveries from Russia to Finland

Excerpt from "The Year 2000, Gasum is Ready," 13 December 1999

An assessment of the situation was initiated in early 1999.

In early September [1999], we visited gas plants in Urengoi. Based on what we heard and saw, the natural gas pipelines' systems contain little automation. In conformance with Russian practice, compressor stations are manned, and automatic control systems are not used at all. The compressor stations' electrical supply is ensured by the stations' own generators.

In August, our compressor experts made a survey trip to Uhta to ascertain the situation at Severgazprom. The group reported that even though the company maintains a leading position as a user of automation in the Russian gas industry, automation, at least by Western standards, holds little significance for the flow of gas. During the 1990s, the company acquired a Siemens' control system, but this is used to gather information, not to control pipelines. All compressor stations are manned.

The group also visited compressor station "CS 10". Here, as well as in other similar stations, there are a considerable number of compressor units, one-third of which are on standby capacity. It can be assumed that at the change of millennium, Russia's own gas consumption will be significantly lower than normal, resulting in increased standby capacity. There are also gas sources in Severgazprom's area, where approximately 5% of the gas transmitted through the northern route is produced.

The transmission company located closest to Finland is Lentransgaz. We have met the company's

representatives monthly, in Finland as well as in Russia. We have visited the "CS Severnaja"

compressor station near Finland several times and assessed the situation there.

The control system for Lentransgaz's pipelines is not computer-based. The central control station at St. Petersburg monitors the operations of the area's 22 compressor stations by calling each station in sequential order at two-hour intervals. The information collected from calls is marked on large drawings that are then used to ascertain pipeline condition and to provide the necessary control information. The new "CS Severnaja" compressor station entered into commercial service in January 1998. The station has Solar compressors, and Enron has been in charge of the station's implementation. Lentransgaz has supplier insurance for Y2K compliance, and testing has revealed no problems.

Gazprom, the company that administers Russia's entire gas industry, initiated a Y2K project at the end

of last year. According to a bulletin we received on 16 November 1999, Gazprom's preparedness is 98%.

Gasum will continue to assess the condition of Russia's gas industry during the rest of the year.

4. Middle East and North Africa

  • 19 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region
  • 19 national coordinators identified by IYCC
  • 12 countries participated in regional activities
  • 1 regional meeting
  • 14 countries participated in the GSW

While the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is a relatively small region with nineteen countries, it is a major player in global interdependencies. The region supplies a large percentage of the rest of the world's oil and natural gas, and is the home of the Suez Canal. The countries in this region vary in their dependencies on technology with some highly dependent on technology in their critical infrastructures and others just beginning to use information technology.

The greatest challenge for this region was sharing readiness and contingency planning information both within the region and with the rest of the world. This region consistently had the one of the lowest attendance levels for conferences and reporting levels for the IYCC survey and GSW.

The obstacles to participation and information sharing may have been geo-political in nature, with few similarities to link the Middle East with North Africa. Second, Morocco energetically responded to the request to coordinate the region but had difficulty generating participation from other countries, especially oil producing nations.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) held one Y2K meeting in early February 1999. While member countries had online access to the findings of this meeting shortly thereafter, the IYCC did not learn about this meeting or of its positive findings in terms of Y2K readiness in major oil producing countries until November 1999. This information was not highly publicized by ESCWA to provide the rest of the world with knowledge on the Y2K situation in the Middle East.

Despite obstacles, the Regional Coordinator, Morocco’s Yahia Bouabdellaoui, sponsored a successful regional workshop in Rabat on 1-3 November 1999. Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia sent representatives, and the outcomes of the conference were important. Regional leaders emerged and information sharing increased soon afterwards.

Tunisia took a leadership role in ensuring that the production and distribution of natural gas within its sub-region and its supply dependency on southern Europe would not be adversely affected by Y2K. It hosted a workshop in late November 1999 with sector leaders from Algeria, France, Italy, Morocco, and Spain. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan agreed to be sector leaders to build communications networks for energy, oil and water respectively. In addition, Lebanon played an active role in the health sector and shared various findings with other Arab States.

About one month prior to the new year, Egypt and Saudi Arabia publicly shared their readiness status with the world joining nine other MENA countries completing the IYCC survey. From these surveys, MENA seemed well positioned, with nearly all countries reporting having completed the majority of their repairs before October 1999. It is interesting to note that the number of countries that reported having contingency plans in place was lower than average, in comparison with their higher than average readiness indicators for remediation.

For the rollover event, this region again had one of the lowest reporting levels. The fourteen countries that did share reports indicated that their transition was a smooth one. In general, the MENA region succeeded because the individual nations were prepared for Y2K. The oil producing countries and others that had many technological dependencies took action early. Cross-border information sharing could have been strengthened to help those countries that started later.

5. North America

  • 3 countries in the North America region
  • 3 national coordinators identified by IYCC
  • 3 countries participated in regional activities
  • 3 regional meetings
  • 3 countries participated in the GSW

Major interdependencies exist among the three countries of North America in the energy, telecommunications and water sectors. Canada and the United States share dependencies in electric power, telecommunications and water. Canada imports more than 50 percent of its pharmaceutical supplies from the US, as well as a major portion of its food supplies. Mexico and the U.S. share dependencies in the water sector.

The IYCC had a limited impact in the North American region since well-organized national Y2K programs were already in place in each of the three countries before the IYCC’s inception. The region was also prepared with well-functioning coordination mechanisms between the countries as a result of the existing North American Free Trade Agreement.

The key opportunity and challenge was to share the North American Y2K experience with the rest of the world, as a technologically advanced region with resources and experience to share. Canada and the United States, represented by Guy McKenzie and John Koskinen, respectively, provided crucial funding to the World Bank and developing countries. The United States government donation to the World Bank funded the IYCC. The U.S. government additionally provided two in-kind staff positions, seconding the IYCC Director and the Program Director. Many best practices and other useful Y2K guidance came from the U.S. In addition to participating in North American coordination activities, Mexico, under the leadership of Carlos Jarque and Antonio Puig, provided critical leadership to the Central America and the Caribbean region.

Mexico and the United States held a bilateral border meeting to study the possible impact of Y2K on customs and immigration procedures. A key objective was to share experiences and form the Ciudad Juárez Contingency Committee for the arrival of the new millennium. The Ciudad Juárez Municipality's Commission for Year 2000 Information Technology Conversion, and the University of Texas at El Paso sponsored this meeting.

At the North American Y2K Trilateral meeting in Ottawa, 4-5 October 1999, assurances were given that all major sectors and federal systems, including the customs sector, would be ready by the rollover. Both Canada and the United States reported concern with the progress of small to medium institutions, which were the key area of focus in the final three months. Canada also expressed concern with health services, as well as communication of Y2K related information to the public. The three countries agreed to be in close contact during the rollover. Canada and the United States exchanged observers in each other's coordination centers and the Mexican and U.S. coordinators had regularly scheduled telephone conversations during the rollover.

The North American region was in a high state of readiness at the rollover with extensive testing performed. All three countries had submitted readiness surveys to the IYCC indicating most remediation completion dates in or prior to October 1999. They also stated that the majority of their contingency plans had been adopted and approved.

The region performed well throughout the rollover, with no serious disruptions reported. The reasons for this success are mainly the early preparations in most critical sectors, the existing relationship among the three countries and the strong national programs of each country.

6. South America

  • 10 countries in the South American region
  • 9 national coordinators identified by IYCC
  • 10 countries participated in regional activities
  • 8 regional meetings
  • 10 countries participated in the GSW

The South American region covered a large geographic area and ten countries. This region had the advantage of common languages, cultural heritages, and similar economies. However they faced challenges as well, including limited resources, the recent economic crisis of 1998, natural disasters, and some political problems. The South American countries demonstrated their great capacity to overcome problems and worked together successfully to achieve a common goal.

Countries in this region varied on their dependency on technology and on each other for their critical infrastructure. Major cities, such as Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Rio De Janeiro, Concepcion and many others, are highly dependent on a large variety of computer based systems for most of their critical infrastructure. Smaller cities and rural areas have their main technological dependency on the national system for electricity. Within the region, key interdependencies were found in customs, electricity generation and distribution, and aviation. At the global level, South American countries had a high dependency on commercial operations given the importance of exports for the local economies. Failures in international telecommunications and in the world banking system would have a strong impact on local activities. In addition, many countries in this region and outside of the region are dependent on Venezuela for its oil.

All of the countries in this region attended the December 1998 U. N. meeting and had national programs early. This led to the early formation of a strong working platform called " Foro de America del Sur" (the Y2K Forum of South America, "Forum"). Based in Santiago, Chile, and led by Rodrigo Moraga, the Forum managed the communications and coordination among the national and sector coordinators for all member countries. There was a dedicated functional capacity responsible for building and maintaining cohesion within the region. The Forum's purpose was to expedite the exchange of information on Y2K efforts among its ten countries and with the rest of the world. Funding to support the Forum was provided in part by the UNDP, the infoDevprogram, and the InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB).

The Forum's five-point strategy helped the region and its countries to meet its Y2K challenges successfully. The strategy included:

Based on its regional dependencies and critical infrastructure risks, the Forum focused its attention on transportation, telecommunications, energy, banking and finance, and health. Sector leaders from each country formed technical working groups and held expert meetings. These meetings were coordinated and facilitated by staff of the Forum in order to ensure that accomplishments and best practice information was maintained and distributed appropriately. For example, to address the risks of the interconnectivity of the power grids within the Southern cone, the Forum developed a map of all cross-border connections in electricity, natural gas, and high-speed telecommunications. In addition, the Forum took a leadership role in raising public awareness and contingency planning. A working group on public awareness and the media with participants from each country was formed. The Forum's accomplishments include four directive meetings, two international coordination meetings, four energy and electricity subgroup meetings, five training of national coordinators meetings, numerous virtual communications amongst the national coordinators and sector leaders, and participation at international sector conferences.

The region also benefited from existing bilateral relationships between neighboring countries and multinational organizations, like Mercosur.7 These existing relationships established a foundation for trust and working together on important issues, such as energy, telecommunications, health and customs, from which the Forum could more easily build its network to address Y2K.

At their final regional meeting in November 1999, the regional coordinator in Chile affirmed "the work and the preparations are done. Now the people must understand that there is no need to fear." Based on their readiness surveys submitted to the IYCC, the South American countries were ready for Y2K. The majority of countries indicated that most remediation would be complete on or before October 1999.

For the rollover, monitoring centers and local and national coordination centers had been established. Call centers, prepared nationally and regionally, had been tested with the participation of the sector working groups. Using space provided by a local telecommunications company, the regional coordinator established a regional command and communication center to facilitate communications among the call centers.

The region came through the millennium rollover with minor glitches being reported at the local levels. All ten countries participated in the GSW. Within the region, the countries exchanged information effectively, and the regional coordinator reported the results to the IYCC Steering Committee on a regular basis.

The reasons for South American countries smooth transition were its early preparations, excellent regional organization and the efforts of the sector working groups. These groups were the impetus to quickly identify key players and interdependencies. Second, they narrowed the issues from the general to the specific. Third, the "virtual" approach and regular meetings ensured that the most up to date information was shared appropriately. From this region, lessons learned include: organize early, communicate often and effectively, and draw upon the common linkages that exist within and between the countries. The Forum excelled at each of these critical components of success. The Forum is currently investigating ways of continuing the cooperation in other areas of interest among South American governments.

7. Sub-Saharan Africa

  • 48 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region
  • 42 national coordinators identified by IYCC
  • 38 countries participated in regional activities
  • 4 regional meetings
  • 35 countries participated in the GSW

While Sub-Saharan Africa ("Africa") reported the least dependence on technology, it was not immune to the Y2K bug. The region's Y2K risks stemmed not only from its internal technological dependencies, but also on its dependence on the rest of the world. These dependencies varied from country to country and sector to sector.

It is noteworthy that this region also had one of the highest number of countries having a vast range of cultural, political and economic differences. Despite the differences, Y2K work invariably started within government administration, with critical sectors recognized as mostly electricity, finance, petrochemicals, telecommunications, health, civil aviation and, where applicable, shipping. Other sectors whose Y2K criticality varied from country to country were water, customs, railways, commerce, mining and defense. For the most part, the preparedness of small and medium enterprises was not a major issue, as these tended to be not Y2K sensitive in their internal operations.

The industrialized world has supplied Africa with most of its information technology systems and equipment either through purchases or donations. Supplied technology was more often applied to automating payroll or custom processes rather than automating the power production or telecommunications switches. Risk also varied according to how recently the systems were changed from a manual to an automated process. Supplied equipment caused a particular concern in the health sector, where the Y2K status of medical devices was often undeterminable due to lack of proper documentation. The region also faced a shortage of technical expertise to determine compliance and often did not receive responses from the vendors and/or manufacturers of its equipment.

African countries also supply and depend upon each other for some of the most critical sectors. Aviation is controlled from international hubs in Kenya, Senegal and South Africa. In the energy sector, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola play a key role in Africa, including the production and distribution of petroleum and power generation for neighboring countries. For example, a southern Africa power grid is controlled by South Africa and interconnects countries in that region. Lastly, the Indian Ocean Island countries (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Seychelles) are dependent upon many goods being shipped to them from South Africa.

The major challenges in addressing these dependencies were a late start, lack of resources and poor information sharing. Only twenty out of forty-eight countries sent a representative to the December 1998 U.N. meeting. For some of those countries this meeting produced their first serious national attention to Y2K. Understanding the complexities of Y2K, establishing a governmental, private/public committee or commission with appropriate leadership, and developing a working plan were initial challenges that had to be addressed quickly and not necessarily using the usual governmental, bureaucratic procedures.

Another challenge was the variety of languages spoken in Africa. While French and English are the most common, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic are also official languages of Sub-Saharan Africa. All conference calls, meetings and information needed to be translated into at least French to be of use to a number of the African national coordinators. The delay in translation of documents and the non-availability of some tools in local languages, may have been another barrier to progress.

The Africa region was also unique in not having a regional coordinator identified by January 1999. While South Africa agreed at the December 1998 U.N. meeting to take this role, the national coordinator left his position shortly thereafter. To assist in identifying a new coordinator, the IYCC hosted a serious of conference calls with all interested African countries. From these calls, Baba-Mustafa Marong from the Gambia was named acting coordinator and a workshop was scheduled for 12-14 May 1999 in Accra, Ghana.

In Ghana, less than six months after the first U. N. conference, it was evident that great steps had been made to address Y2K in the region. Twenty-four countries, including key "supplier" countries such as Kenya, Senegal and South Africa sent representatives to share the actions already taken in their countries. (Nigeria sent an embassy representative as an observer). Countries discussed cross-border issues and examined their infrastructure interdependencies in detail, sector experts highlighted areas of concern, and Y2K experts shared contingency planning and information sharing strategies.

The resolutions of this conference demonstrated that the participants understood that the Y2K problem centered around public perception as much as it did actual readiness. In addition, they realized one of Y2K's greatest challenges and opportunities would be to ensure that Y2K was on political agendas within their own governments and in diplomatic organizations throughout the region. Finally, there was increased awareness that the Y2K successes or failures of the developed world would be as important to Africa’s outcomes as their own work, because of the economic impact of potential Y2K failures in the developed world.

Another important outcome was the confirmation of Baba-Mustafa Marong as Africa's regional coordinator and the development of a strong Africa Y2K Working Group. Marong worked virtually with the working group to elicit ideas, get feedback on proposals and promote contingency planning and readiness sharing strategies. Tsietsi Maleho from South Africa and David Sawe from Tanzania, two of the five members of the working group, helped ensure that the working group's objectives were met through the efforts of pre-existing sub-regional organizations. In addition, Morike Kamara from Guinea played an important role in the working group to strengthen efforts in western Africa.

The East African Co-operation (EAC)8, whose members include Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda (with Rwanda and Burundi as candidates for membership), benefited from the financial support of the UK Department for International Development (DFID). EAC's national Y2K teams agreed to share their national resources and skills, and were successful in ensuring that Y2K was always on the agenda of Ministerial summit meetings. Significantly, they conducted various tripartite workshops bringing together the key players of their four critical Y2K sectors to facilitate joint Y2K project oversight in each sector. The EAC Y2K team also launched a web page http://www.Y2Keastafrica.org, and developed an excellent Emergency Response Plan Template.

The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)9 had been looking at cross-border issues and contingency planning since January 1999. They implemented a contingency plan verification program where neighboring countries visited, reviewed and validated each other's plans. In addition, SADC established reporting procedures, communications networks and command centers for the rollover.

Because many systems in Africa would not be fixed in time due to the lack of resources and a late start, contingency planning seminars were held for national coordinators and their sector leaders in September and October 1999. Senegal hosted the first conference with sixteen countries from western and central Africa in attendance. Nigeria attended, shared their status information, and took a leadership role in the energy sector dialogues. Kenya hosted the second conference with twelve countries attending from eastern and southern Africa. South Africa attended to share its contingency planning process and best practices with the participants. The workshops were very successful as they taught a standardized approach to contingency planning, but more importantly enabled validation of internal priorities as well as cross-sector and cross-border information sharing. These workshops also emphasized the need for additional resources to complete their Y2K work and to implement their contingency plans. Shortly after the contingency planning workshops the Africa Working Group launched its web page at http://www.Y2Kafrica.org.

Before the rollover the situation in Africa seemed fairly good, but difficult to gauge accurately. The majority of countries that submitted their survey to the IYCC reported that most remediation work would be completed by October 1999 or before, but government services and health sector reported lower preparedness levels. Countries either had contingency plans in place or were well experienced and skilled at performing operations manually. The activities of the regional coordinator in November and December 1999, meeting with the Economic Commission for Western Africa States (ECOWAS)10 and the Nigerian national coordinator, may have helped to ensure that timely information was shared appropriately during the rollover.

Thirty-two countries shared their status with the rest of the world via the GSW during the date change and/or after their first business day. While minor glitches were reported, there were no wide spread systemic failures in Africa. For example, Rwanda had problems in its custom systems, Zimbabwe had some problems with its municipal payroll systems, and Nigeria experienced a glitch in its refinery, but all these problems were either fixed or contingency plans successfully put in place.

In general, African countries successfully organized and managed their Y2K situation. While the participating African countries benefited from the hard work and tremendous dedication of their regional coordinator from the Gambia, earlier involvement of Nigeria and a more assertive regional focus by Kenya and South Africa would have inspired greater international public confidence.

Although the late start remained a hindrance, the greatest challenge soon became the lack of public information on the actual achievements of many countries. Despite national actions and sending of information, Y2K analysts continued to rate most African countries as the least prepared, at times even supporting their allegations by quoting official reports that were obsolete by a whole year or by generalizing on the basis of the least active countries. Based on these ratings, the perception of businesses and other key economic decision-makers may have adversely affected some of the developing nations more than Y2K itself.

In addition, the IYCC and the Africa regional coordinator could have benefited from more information sharing with EAC and SADC. There may have been opportunities for ECOWAS to learn from and mirror SADC's and EAC's successes. However, while EAC and SADC were able to secure financial support, ECOWAS lacked sufficient resources to mobilize its countries. Had the African Y2K web site been funded and developed earlier, it could have hosted web pages for countries and served as a focal point for all African countries to share their readiness status and promote public confidence.

Despite these constraints, African countries successfully organized and managed their Y2K situation. Public and private sectors came together in many countries to develop and implement appropriate plans. Most importantly, the national coordinators in Africa appreciated and promoted the importance of building relationships, working together and sharing information, regardless of their political, linguistic or cultural differences.

8. Western Europe

  • 23 countries in the Western Europe region
  • 19 national coordinators identified by IYCC
  • 19 countries participated in regional activities
  • 7 regional meetings
  • 19 countries participated in the GSW

Western Europe organized its Y2K efforts along the structural lines of the European Union (EU), regional agencies and national level initiatives. The IYCC played a limited role in Western Europe, since regional meetings on Y2K issues at European Union level took place on a regular basis since 1997. Of the IYCC regions, Western Europe was perhaps the most organized in terms of international agencies, national and regional sector organizations and national Y2K efforts that were in place at the inception of IYCC. Western Europe’s efforts also benefited from the presence of U. N. international agencies, and strong public and private sectors that could be drawn upon for Y2K efforts and which were accustomed to collaborating on a regional basis.

Western Europe also took a global leadership role, with the United Kingdom addressing Y2K with its early $17 million contribution to the World Bank's infoDev program, followed by the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, France, and Italy. In addition, the UK provided staff and support for the IYCC health initiative and for East Africa Co-operation (EAC).

Important interdependencies within Western European included finance, maritime shipping, air transport, energy (electric, nuclear, and gas), aviation, and telecommunications. The financial sector in the EU, building upon their strong public-private sector collaboration on the changeover to the Euro, which occurred one year earlier, was able to organize extensive regional tests and to participate in international testing efforts.11 Transport interdependencies resulted in national and regional efforts to ensure business continuity and the identification and fixing of potential Y2K problems. In the aviation sector, there were regional contingency plans. Telecommunications identified Y2K early and proceeded to find and fix potential Y2K problems. A to-be-determined demand for telecommunications with the millennium rollover was perceived to be the largest issue facing this sector.

The energy sector is highly developed and interdependent. Western Europe has.), has a well connected power grid that allows for real time sharing of electricity across borders, although the normal level of such exchanges between countries is low. Cross-border connections were considered a plus because they would help ensure power continuity in the event of Y2K glitches.

Among Western European countries and their neighbors, cross-border dependencies in electric power and natural gas and the safety of nuclear power plants were the main areas of Y2K concern, leading to regional coordination and support. Regional coordination included workshops that would include service providers, policy regulators and technical experts. Support included financial assistance for financing Y2K technical assistance, and travel and per diem to participate in regional meetings and work shops.

Building on existing strong and organized national Y2K efforts, the European Commission served a dual role of convening and coordinating a regional dialogue on these interdependencies and readiness. Starting in September 1997, quarterly workshops took place where industry associations and government representatives met to exchange information on strategies and progress. At the beginning of 1999, the frequency of these meetings was increased to bimonthly. At the request of the Vienna European Council, a major workshop took place in Brussels during April 1999 to discuss regional progress and plans of key infrastructure sectors with an emphasis on cross-border issues. A similar follow-up event in September 1999 included 200 representatives from the public and private sectors in both Western and Eastern Europe. Another workshop in July 1999 focused on Y2K issues in the electricity sector, including nuclear power plants, also with the involvement of electricity operators from Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) and the Newly Independent States (NIS).

The European Union High Level Working Party on the Millennium Date Change was established in July 1999, consisting of national Y2K coordinators of all EU countries, as well as those of the European Free Trade Association (Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland). Six meetings were held between 13 July 1999 and 14 January 2000 chaired by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Enterprise.

These meetings were used to draw together private sector organizations and national governments and public sector organizations to share national states of readiness, coordinate efforts on Y2K, and to identify ongoing or new interdependencies affecting Western Europe. In addition to EU meetings, sub-regional meetings in each of the major sectors were held, with direct support of service providers, international agencies and/or national governments. Geographic proximity and strong national Y2K efforts resulted in numerous ad hoc meetings, informal dialogues and virtual communications of technical information across all sectors.

At the December 1998 U.N. meeting, the meeting organizers felt that Western European countries and representative governmental organizations could have a key role in identifying and mitigating Y2K worldwide. Several countries provided ongoing bilateral Y2K assistance to countries outside the region, but initially there was no perceived need for representation of the region to the IYCC. Iceland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom supported the concept of the IYCC and participated strongly from the beginning. However, the European Commission was only given a mandate to act as representative for the EU to the IYCC much later, once the endorsement of all EU national governments was obtained. This delayed the involvement of IYCC in European initiatives in energy, global coordination and, particularly, in identifying and providing European expertise to neighboring nations.

As a region, Western Europe was well prepared regionally and nationally for the millennium rollover. National governments, private sector firms and sector organizations had done extensive work. All but one of the Western European countries that submitted their readiness survey to the IYCC indicated most remediation completion dates before October 1999. In addition, most countries also had contingency plans adopted and approved for the majority of their critical sectors.

During the rollover, nineteen Western European countries participated in the GSW reporting their smooth transition to the New Year. Minor, localized glitches were encountered in retail trade, hospital equipment, financial institutions, and retailers. In large part, the failure to see Y2K glitches in the state or private sectors within Western Europe was due to the early planning and attention which was given to Y2K throughout the region.

9. Role of the G8 and G7

In Birmingham, England, in May 1998, the leaders of the G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) agreed to share information with each other and with other nations on national Y2K readiness. They also agreed to work through the World Bank to assist developing countries. In Koln, Germany, in June 1999, the leaders agreed to work together in key infrastructure sectors and share information during the rollover period. They also urged greater transparency from all nations regarding Y2K preparations. A G8 Y2K Experts Group met periodically to support these commitments. Country representatives came from foreign affairs ministries and the national coordinators’ offices. Like the regional efforts discussed above, early work by this group focussed primarily on sharing national perspectives. A September 1999 meeting in Berlin shared contingency plans in energy, telecommunications, transportation, and government services sectors. At that time the group also recognized the possibility that developed countries might be called upon to respond to Y2K failures in developing countries by providing technical assistance. A meeting was organized for late November 1999, and the representatives agreed to participate in the recovery framework and validated the IYCC’s role in it, as described in Chapter 9.

In April 1999 the G7 finance ministers agreed that the member nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) would share statements of readiness at the G7 economic summit in June 1999 in Bonn. The readiness statements roughly followed the format of the IYCC survey discussed in Chapter 5. Five nations (Canada, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) followed through on this commitment, and the information was shared among all G7 governments, but no further action was taken.

Because of its potentially broad impact, Y2K inserted itself onto the agendas of a broad range of organizations. Official diplomatic organizations such as these responded within their charters to the extent that Y2K was viewed as a relevant problem. However Y2K’s short deadline and its crosscutting nature made it challenging for existing institutions to react in a timely and coherent manner.

Chapter 4 -- Strengthening Sector Cooperation

In addition to organizing countries on a regional basis, the IYCC worked with organizations that were addressing specific parts, or sectors, of societal infrastructure on a global or regional basis. These Critical infrastructures cut across national and regional boundaries. Financial flows, electronic communications, and air and sea transportation circle the globe. Energy is a mixed story – petroleum is managed globally, while natural gas and electricity are more regional. Health care is primarily a local matter, although important commonalities exist across borders. Other key sectors, including government services, food, water, and land transport are essentially local.

The sector organizing strategy of the IYCC was to use existing organizations to the greatest extent possible. The task at hand was to assure that national and regional Y2K organizations had access to the best information possible about addressing Y2K in critical sectors. For the global sectors, world organizations existed. For the regional energy sectors, the story was mixed. The IYCC created a global Y2K health care initiative under the leadership of the United Kingdom. For the other sectors, the IYCC focused on assuring national coordinators had the best general information possible, and became an important vehicle for connecting sector organizations with national coordinators.

In early May 1999, the IYCC brought together in Geneva all the major sector organizations to determine interdependencies, state of readiness and the importance of global coordination, and contingency planning in and between the sectors. Key representatives were drawn from aviation (International Air Transport Association and International Civil Aviation Organization), banking and finance (Bank for International Settlements and Global 2000), energy and oil (International Energy Agency and UNIPEDE/EURLECTRIC), maritime (International Maritime Organization and U.S. Coast Guard), and telecommunications (International Telecommunications Union). The International Telecommunications Union served as the host for this event, and the World Bank participated to share information on its funding, contingency planning, and other initiatives.

1. Finance

Of all sectors facing the Y2K challenge, finance was the most exposed to Y2K because of its high dependency on digital computers. Public and private finance relies heavily on automation to manage information ranging from local credit charges to national debt payments. If automated applications were to fail or be corrupted, it would be difficult if not impossible to conduct finance. The sector is characterized by complex local, national, regional and global interdependencies.

Every phase of finance, from transactions to payment and settlement, is dependent on a large, geographically diverse, highly computerized global infrastructure. For all financial transactions, whether it be a retail credit transaction, bank-to-bank credit, or public sector payment, the activities of record keeping, administration, and transaction settlement involve a global custodian (private bank, public bank, brokerage, etc.) who maintains relationships with a network of sub-custodians. Key elements of this system include: clearing, settlement and communication organizations, such as the Clearing House Interbank Payments System, Clearing House Automated Clearing System , the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications , the Depository Trust Company, Fedwire and TARGET, and the National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC). For example, the Clearing House Interbank Payments System and Fedwire process a combined transfer of approximately $3 trillion in funds on an average day. The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications’ messaging network carries over three million financial transactions per day. The sector addressed the vulnerabilities early with significant funding and technical expertise.

Beginning in 1998, the finance sector established the Joint Year 2000 Council and Global 2000 Co-ordinating Group, representing the public and private sides of finance, respectively. In April 1998, at the first finance roundtable on Year 2000, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) based in Basle, Switzerland, and its representatives agreed to establish a Joint Year 2000 Council. Key sponsors included: Basle Committee on Banking Supervision, Committee of Payment and Settlement Systems; the International Association of Insurance Supervisors; and the International Organization of Securities Commissions. In the summer of 1998, the Joint Year 2000 Council established the External Consultative Committee composed of private sector internationally oriented organizations, including financial service providers, financial market associations, rating agencies, etc. Given the importance of telecommunications to the finance sector, the International Telecommunications Union was also included in the External Consultative Committee.

The objectives of the Joint Year 2000 Council were:

Roger W. Ferguson Jr., a Governor of the United States Federal Reserve System, served as Chairman, and the BIS provided its resources as a global secretariat. Meeting on a regular basis, the Joint Year 2000 Council oversaw and coordinated all aspects of the public sector approach to Y2K.

As an equal counterpart and partner to the public sector, the world's private financial sector, led by a small group of global financial institutions, established the Global 2000 Co-ordinating Group. Global 2000 was an informal grouping of banks, securities firms and insurance companies. Led by Tim Shepheard-Walwyn, Chairman, and Bill Mundt, Secretariat, both of UBS AG, its aim was to identify and support coordinated initiatives by the global financial community to meet the Y2K challenge. This was to be accomplished through promoting disclosure of self assessments, increasing country readiness, promoting public disclosure on country readiness, sharing best practice information on testing, mitigating risk, and contingency planning. Ultimately, private financial community participation, funded at participating institutions’ expense, was drawn from 107 countries.12

IYCC worked closely with Global 2000 and with the Joint Year 2000 Council. In conjunction with Global 2000, IYCC sought to bring technical expertise awareness to the national Y2K coordinators, participated in numerous joint presentations, and shared data and best practices throughout the year.

In addition to its technological vulnerability to Y2K, the finance sector faced a unique information vulnerability. In finance, public confidence is essential to continued normal operation. The global financial network is powered by liquidity -- the unimpeded electronic flow of capital across borders. Y2K presented the possibility that participants (individuals, firms, economies) in international financial markets would act to reduce their exposure in countries that appear to have high Y2K risks. Investors could tighten credit or redirect investment, decreasing liquidity and potentially hurting national economies, particularly in more fragile economies with greater sensitivity to variations or delays in international capital flows. The only antidote was for countries to make credible Y2K readiness information available to their stakeholders, and the finance sector Y2K strategy reflected that need.

The most creative aspect of the Global 2000/Joint Year 2000 strategy was the preparation and use of Y2K readiness charts. (A sample from August 1999 can be found at Appendix G.)13 The finance sector’s global Y2K team prepared the charts based on information obtained from public sources such as the media and national government statements, and private sources such as correspondent banks and regulators. The charts covered 49 countries and six sectors (telecommunications, transportation, energy, water, government services, and finance, which was broken into two sub-sectors). Country sectors were rated on two criteria – progress on Y2K remediation and the availability of public information about that progress. A "green" rating meant adequate public information and satisfactory progress. "Amber" meant improvement was needed in one or both areas, and "red" indicated the need for substantial improvement in one or both areas. A "black" rating indicated "no material public information available for review."

The team used the charts to promote transparency and Y2K readiness. At first, Global 2000 would give the national Y2K coordinator and other key national officials only the readiness ratings of their own country. They would ask for comments. The officials often responded by providing additional information about the country’s preparations, in many cases producing an improved rating. The whole chart containing all country ratings was circulated periodically among all Global 2000 and Joint Year 2000 members. In April 1999, the finance team began circulating the entire chart to Y2K officials in the rated countries, spurring accelerated transparency and readiness work. In addition to circulating the charts, the Global 2000 team visited many of the affected countries regularly, pulling together private and public sector officials to discuss Y2K preparations. These meetings were an important catalyst to promoting early Y2K action.

Although the charts were widely available within the global financial community, Global 2000 never made them public. An early debate about publicly releasing the charts concluded that, although publication would increase transparency and could reduce uncertainty in the marketplace, the preferable approach was for nations to speak for themselves regarding their Y2K readiness. Among the perceived risks of publication were the potential for legal liabilities, the danger of undermining public confidence, and the likelihood that the media would seize on the charts as a predictor of Y2K outcomes rather than an indicator of what was known. This approach was consistent with IYCC’s own approach, which was to act as a channel for the voices of national Y2K coordinators. (Other organizations, both public and private sector, were not so cautious in making pronouncements, causing effects explored more fully in Chapter 5, "Public Information Sharing.")

When Global 2000 issued its late September 1999 readiness chart, no "black" ratings remained, signaling a victory for the availability of public information. A few "red" spots remained. In late October 1999, Global 2000 announced that the September 1999 chart was the final chart, and urged "interested parties to visit the International Y2K Cooperation Center’s web site for up-to-date country readiness information."

Late 1999 activities focussed on risk mitigation and contingency planning, including making arrangements to monitor the rollover event. Global 2000 prepared a detailed contingency planning guide, and Joint Year 2000 Council members made arrangements to accept additional forms of collateral should international liquidity demands require. Many national governments printed extra bank notes in case the public decided to withdraw extra cash because of Y2K concerns. On 24 September 1999, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) established a special loan facility to extend short-term financing to countries that encountered balance of payments difficulties arising from loss of confidence or other problems associated with potential or actual Y2K-related failures of computer systems. The community did not establish a special monitoring or crisis resolution center for Y2K, deciding instead to rely on well-established formal and informal procedures should Y2K failures or public reaction precipitate a financial crisis.

While the IYCC readiness survey indicated finance as the most dependent sector on technology, national coordinators also reported finance as the most prepared sector, with an average remediation completion date of early July 1999.

The millennium rollover saw minor Y2K glitches in the financial sector at the local level. No private or public financial crisis, real or perceived, ensued. This outcome was the result of the billions of dollars and millions of person hours devoted to fixing systems in the financial sector, and the worldwide leadership of the Joint Year 2000 Council and the Global 2000 Coordinating Group.

2. Energy

Energy is fundamental to the continuity of a functioning society. Most critical is local or regional electrical power generation and distribution. (Nuclear power is treated separately below.) Whether the means of generation and distribution lie within the state sector or with private vendors, certain commonalties exist. Power cannot be stored and must be used in real time. Widespread or prolonged interruptions can create serious impacts. The largest Y2K risks facing the energy sector were internal telecommunications, digital control systems and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. The more industrialized the society, the greater the potential Y2K impact on electricity in terms of grid failures, brown outs or disruptions in service. In addition, the continuity of the supply of petroleum and natural gas, while of less immediate impact, is of important economic and political interest.

The energy sector does not have a single global focal point or voice. Multiple parties, vertically integrated from fuel production to processing to transport, characterize the sector. These include, for example, oil production, fossil fuel mining, refineries, maritime transport, and so on through the supply chain. The view was that a local disruption due to Y2K could have an impact electrical power elsewhere in the world. On a sub-sector or geographic basis, key players included American Petroleum Institute (worldwide), Electric Power Research Institute (U.S. and worldwide), European Commission Directorate General's Enterprise, Energy and Environment (EU, CEEC and NIS countries), International Energy Agency (worldwide), IYCC’s Asia Energy Experts Network (Asia), IYCC's Foro Y2K de America del Sur (South America), North America Reliability Council (North America), Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC countries), UNIPEDE/ EURLECTRIC (Western and Eastern European countries), and U.S. Department of Energy (primarily Eastern Europe and Russia).

For most developed countries, individual private sector providers and/or the public sector addressed electricity and natural gas at the local and national level. For developing countries, some support for Y2K work came from the international and national donor and lending agencies, international organizations and other non-governmental entities. Each IYCC region held energy-related conferences, drawing upon sector expertise to address the energy sector. Some, such as the South America region, made electric power a focal point of their Y2K collaboration efforts. The IYCC played a coordinating role with respect to the emerging markets. This included: organizing and/or participating in energy sector meetings; identifying technical resources for the national coordinators; and, organizing web links among key sector participants.

A unique effort was the work of the government of Japan to establish an Asia energy expert's network that flowed logically from early 1999 work by the Australian National Electricity Market. Led by Tomohiro Taniguchi of the Central Research Institute of the Electric Power Industry, Japan shared information about preparing for Y2K and contingency planning across the Asia-Pacific region via personal contacts, e-mail, and the web. The network was active during the date change event, exchanging information about Y2K status of electrical power generating facilities.

The petroleum industry assured the continued supply of oil and natural gas on a global basis by coordinating private sector and national work via the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). API’s Y2K task force, created in 1997, permitted companies around the world to share information about Y2K problems and solutions, including a private product testing database that included company-validated test results for software, hardware, embedded systems, and related components. The API noted that "the petroleum industry recognizes the incredible expense of each company testing every piece of equipment and hopes that the development of this resource will greatly improve the overall situation." With remediation efforts essentially complete in late November 1999, OPEC powers Saudi Arabia and Venezuela joined with non-OPEC Mexico to announce that Y2K was unlikely to affect world oil supply, and that if unexpected problems did develop, they would respond using normal industry procedures. These procedures include cooperating with the International Energy Agency to allocate normal standing reserves of 90 days supply on a global basis as needed.

One effort of IYCC that could have contributed significantly, but did not materialize due to lack of financing, was the full utilization of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) database. This database, like the validated testing database maintained by the API, included company-verified testing data. The EPRI database, developed over a two-year period, covered process control systems used in electricity generation and distribution. The database was available to subscribers only. In July 1999, EPRI offered to provide the results of its work at a cost of $1.5 million to all nations. The price, which reflected EPRI’s projected costs, included regional conferences on electric utility risk exposure and management. EPRI expended considerable effort to produce a preliminary product, but no funding for the initiative could be found. In December 1999, EPRI did make available a manual, distilling the two-year effort, to the U.S. Department of Energy for distribution to interested electric utilities worldwide. Upon receiving the database from the United States, the IYCC posted it on its web site and notified the national Y2K coordinators. Although the manual is a continuing resource to countries in the face of any emerging Y2K failures, it did not become available in a timely manner before the rollover.

At the end of the year, the IYCC predicted few if any significant Y2K disruptions in energy. The petroleum and natural gas industry was well prepared. The IYCC readiness survey indicated energy's dependence on technology varied widely from slightly dependent in developing countries to highly dependent on technology in developed countries. On average, national coordinators reported their energy sector as one of the more prepared sectors, behind finance, telecommunications and aviation, with a remediation completion date of early August 1999.

The IYCC noted that, with respect to electricity generation and distribution, "wealthy countries are highly dependent on digital systems. In general, these countries have spent a great deal of effort preparing those systems for the date change, and have made and tested detailed contingency plans. Developing country infrastructures are less dependent on digital systems. In general, these countries are not as far along in fixing systems. However, the everyday use of manual and analog procedures, and real life experience with contingency operations make these countries less vulnerable to system failures." IYCC Global Situation Report, 13 December 1999.

3. Nuclear Power

There are more than 430 operating nuclear power plants (NPPs) in 31 countries with a total installed capacity of around 350,000 megawatts, about 17 percent of the electricity generated world-wide. Over 90 percent of the world's NPPs are in the Northern Hemisphere. Western Europe and North America each have about 30 percent of the operating plants. About 15 percent each are in Asia and in Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union. In some countries, NPPs produce over 70 percent of the electricity consumed. Countries that have NPPs include: Argentina, Armenia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.

Nuclear power is an advanced industry in many ways, but its reliance on digital systems -- hardware, software, and embedded systems - is mixed. Digital systems may be used in three kinds of NPP activities. In advanced plants, digital systems are used to control plant operations and, in the most advanced plants, to control systems that initiate protective actions such as reactor shutdown. Most commonly, however, digital systems are used in operational management and monitoring systems. These systems assist operators in managing and monitoring fuel usage and demand load, initiating and processing work orders, and other activities. A broad range of secondary and ancillary activities that do not directly affect the safety of plant operations may also depend on digital systems, including radiation dose measurement systems, radiation monitoring systems, entrance (gate) access functions, vibration monitoring systems, spectrometry equipment, fuel inventory systems, and office management software. In addition to internal systems, NPPs depend on external infrastructures during normal operations, including the electric power grid, telecommunications, water, and fuel deliveries. Failures in these systems can require plants to modify, cut back, or discontinue operations.

The responsibility for Y2K in each NPP rested with the operator and is monitored by the national regulatory authority. Each regulator and every NPP operator addressed Y2K, and the millennium rollover saw no significant Y2K glitches in the nuclear power sector. For those NPPs that required external technical assistance, principally those in Russia, Ukraine and the former Soviet Union, the key institutions that provided funding and/or technical assistance included: the European Commission, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.S. Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the World Association of Nuclear Operators.

At the G8 Y2K experts meeting in September 1999, members of the public expressed strong concerns about the possible effects of Y2K on the safety of nuclear power plants. As a result, the G8 countries then asked the IAEA to take a stronger role in informing the public about nuclear plants’ Y2K preparedness. In December 1999, IYCC staff visited the IAEA to share ideas about how best to publicize the work that had been done. Shortly thereafter, the IAEA issued a brief announcement that Y2K remediation and recovery actions on systems and equipment with a direct and immediate bearing on the safety of nuclear power plants had been completed, but that work on other systems needed to continue and funding would be needed. The IYCC posted on its web site a position paper on nuclear power entitled "Nuclear Power and Y2K" affirming and explaining those conclusions.

During the rollover some minor Y2K incidents were reported in nuclear plants around the world. None of the incidents involved systems or equipment with a direct effect on safety. The IYCC is working with the European Commission to assure that the remaining work gets done.

4. Health

The health sector, whether led by the public or private sectors, is unique in that most aspects of it are local. Early on, IYCC recognized that the health sector could be critical in terms of failures attributed to Y2K. With approval of its Steering Committee, the IYCC approached the UK Government to see if it would take the international Y2K lead on the health sector. In response, Ms. Kate Priestly, Chief Executive, National Health System (NHS) Estates, accepted the position of health sector coordinator for IYCC. Ms. Priestly and her team, drawn from throughout the UK’s NHS, developed a full spectrum of activities that were implemented under IYCC with funding from the infoDevand the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). These included:

The IYCC health sector initiative was successful in assisting many countries in their health sector preparation for Y2K.

The IYCC also attempted unsuccessfully to disseminate a database of Y2K vulnerabilities in medical devices, working with Rx2000, a not-for-profit U.S. organization. Rx2000 developed a web-based database of 25,000 pieces of critical medical equipment. Funded through subscriptions by private corporations, hospitals and local health care providers, the Rx2000 database was considered a premier source on medical equipment and Y2K. Rx2000 believed it could make the database available on a global basis for about $1.5 million. Although the U.S. government expressed interest in funding this project, no funds became available. Late in December 1999, Rx2000 did make their database available to the United States for global distribution, but insufficient time remained to make it useful to national coordinators.

Before the date change, national coordinators reported on the IYCC readiness survey that health services was the least prepared sector, with an average remediation completion date of September 1999. Many industrialized nations with health services highly or moderately dependent on technology, including Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and United States, indicated completion dates of November or December 1999. Developing countries with less dependency on technology had slightly earlier completion dates.

Although minor Y2K glitches occurred after the date change with medical equipment that required manual resetting, the IYCC health sector initiative identified only one for which the IYCC found it necessary to issue a global alert. This concerned a date error on a kidney dialysis machine that ultimately did not affect patient safety, first identified by the UK Medical Device Agency.

5. Telecommunications

Telecommunications and electricity are the core infrastructure services of modern society upon which all sectors depend. Telecommunications is essential to all economic (e.g. power, finance, industry, etc.) and social (health care, governance, public safety, etc.) endeavors. Because of the potential for Y2K breakdowns in telecommunications to create impacts beyond any individual nation to a region or the world in general, in March 1998 the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) took on the global leadership role for Y2K risk identification, mitigation, and contingency planning.

Based in Geneva, the ITU is a joint public/private membership organization representing the full range of organizations with an interest in telecommunications, including all the major providers in service provision, equipment manufacturing, and network and radio infrastructure design. With membership drawn from 189 countries and more than 600 private sector vendors, the ITU was the appropriate organization to lead the international Y2K telecommunications efforts worldwide.

In March 1998, ITU established the "ITU Year 2000 Task Force" to provide advice and information on how best to overcome potential difficulties associated with the change to the new millennium. The Task Force mandate included:

Chaired by Ron Balls of British Telecom, the Task Force developed subgroup activities in service operations, technology information, liaison with emerging markets, business continuity, and regional group coordination. Throughout the existence of the Task Force, specific initiatives included:

The ITU also developed a survey of national telecommunications readiness in late 1998, and posted country reports on its web site. The survey was useful in focusing national and international attention on the importance of addressing Y2K in the telecommunications industry. However many countries did not keep their results

up-to-date, making it less useful as a means of public communication.

The IYCC worked closely with the ITU Year 2000 Task Force. Recognizing that global service providers were well organized to handle the actual fixing of telecommunications systems, IYCC utilized the Task Force principally to assist the national coordinators in promoting awareness and preparation at the local level. In addition, under the leadership of Jeongwon Yoon of the government of the Republic of Korea, the IYCC promoted the need for particular attention by the Task Force to the situation of developing countries. These interventions assured that developing country telecommunications providers had the necessary information to assure continuity of service, and to participate in international testing to the extent appropriate.

While the IYCC readiness survey indicated telecommunications as highly to moderately dependent on technology, national coordinators reported this sector as one of the most prepared sectors, with an average remediation completion date of late July 1999.

The millennium rollover occurred with only minor glitches at the individual carrier level. Some congestion occurred in the early hours of the new year because of an unusually high volume of international calls. No regional or international Y2K glitches occurred, in part due to the long-term preparation in the sector by participants and extensive worldwide testing.

6. Aviation

The international civil aviation community recognized early on the importance of successfully addressing Y2K for the safe, efficient and regular operation of international air transport. A broadly defined sector, aviation had two key Y2K leaders, supported by numerous regional and national support groups. These were the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), representing the public and private sectors, respectively.

Created some fifty years ago, ICAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations linked to its Economic and Social Council. Based in Montreal, Canada, ICAO has the support of all national governments, and is the lead public sector entity for national and international air transportation. Its key constituents are airports, air traffic services and air transport operators. As early as 1997, ICAO began to focus on Y2K, issuing the First State Letter on Y2K on 12 December 1997, followed by the Second State Letter on 15 May 1998. The main initiatives of ICAO have been focused on making information available, raising the level of awareness within the international civil aviation community, assessing nations’ progress in dealing with Y2K and assisting nations with the development of contingency plans, while coordinating region-wide contingency planning.

The private sector side of international air transport has as its core organization the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Also based in Montreal, Canada, IATA has 269 airlines as its members, representing more than 95 percent of the airlines operating in the world. In June1998, IATA launched its "Year 2000 Project" to work more closely with airlines and critical service partners on identifying and eliminating potential Y2K problems through four main initiatives: raising public awareness, strengthening industry cooperation, collecting Y2K readiness information, and promoting contingency planning. Worldwide, national and regional seminars for airports, airlines and civil aviation authorities were held to stimulate close coordination and collaboration on Y2K, all of which was funded by IATA member airlines.

Often in the past year, ICAO and/or IATA would seek IYCC assistance at the regional level in getting information which otherwise might not be made available. For example, the airlines and airports of some Eastern European countries were slow to provide information to both ICAO and IATA. The IYCC worked with the national coordinators at the Bovorets, Bulgaria ECA regional meeting to help them influence their national governments to provide updated information. Other IYCC actions included:

The Global Positioning System provided an interesting dry run of the Y2K date change. This satellite-based navigation and location system encountered a register overflow on Sunday, 22 August 1999, which caused some older receiver units to malfunction. An extensive public education campaign to boaters, pilots, and hikers before the event succeeded in limiting those caught by surprise to a few souls. National authorities were on watch for any problems. However in the United States, fewer boaters required navigation assistance from the Coast Guard than on a normal weekend day.

One of the most interesting public information issues related to transportation. Notwithstanding early and repeated assurances that air travel would be safe, a portion of the flying public remained cautious until the date change. Demand for air travel, always low around the new year, was much lower than normal. Airlines cancelled flights for lack of demand. Traffic was so light over the date change period that the ICAO contingency plan of requiring increased spacing between aircraft to permit rapid movement to manual flight control operations was implemented without delaying any flights.

Statements issued by governments such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada about the Y2K readiness of countries also affected international travel. These governments took seriously their duty of care to inform the travelling public where the potential existed for their citizens to experience difficulties such as power outages or communications failures. Beginning in early 1999, these governments provided information to their citizens on the international dimensions of the Y2K problem. In September and October 1999, these governments issued country-specific Y2K statements. In general the proposed text in country-specific Y2K statements was discussed with the government of the particular country before release. In a few cases the statements warned against travel to specific countries.

Before the date change, the IYCC readiness survey confirmed that the aviation sector was well prepared. While dependency on technology was moderate to high, national coordinators indicated the aviation sector was one of the most prepared sectors, slightly behind telecommunications, with an average reported remediation completion date of late July 1999.

Although there was some drop in tourism because of Y2K fears, ultimately, air traffic flowed normally during the date change and into the business week. The extensive efforts by air traffic and airline officials around the world paid off.

7. Maritime Shipping

Maritime is a vertically integrated sector; one comprised of ports, ships, service providers and ancillary support activities (e.g., power, transport, telecommunications, etc.). While the diversity of the sector required that Y2K decisions be made locally at each ship or port, a uniform and standard approach was deemed essential to ensure that the maritime sector was prepared for the millennium rollover. Under the leadership of the United States Coast Guard and the United Kingdom’s Maritime Coastguard Agency, a worldwide maritime Y2K initiative was developed under the umbrella of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Labeled Circular No. 2121, this initiative consisted of dual parts: The Year 2000 Code of Good Practice, and Key Elements of Y2K Contingency Planning for Ships, Ports and Terminals.

The Code of Good Practice --

The Contingency Planning guide included:

Circular 2121 became the industry standard, used worldwide by all involved parties. IYCC worked closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and, to a lesser extent, the International Maritime Organization in bringing Circular 2121 among national coordinators, sector organizations and others. This included:

The IYCC leveraged relationships with existing maritime groups, such as Lloyd's Registry in the United Kingdom. With Lloyd's assistance, the IYCC distributed a contingency planning guide with checklist and corresponding CD-ROM directly to all national coordinators.

The IYCC readiness survey indicated that maritime shipping’s dependence on technology varied widely from slightly dependent in developing countries to highly dependent on technology in developed countries. On average, national coordinators reported their sea transportation sector as one of the less-prepared sectors with a remediation completion date of August 1999.

Y2K did not affect maritime shipping in a significant manner. While minor glitches were reported around the world for a few ships or ports, no health, safety or significant commercial problems occurred. In large measure, success can be attributed to the IMO and others for the worldwide adoption and use of Circular 2121 as an industry standard for addressing Y2K.

8. Chemicals

In the chemical manufacturing area, the potential for Y2K impact was identified early, and national governments and large industry undertook significant preparatory work. Yet, gaps at the small-to-medium level enterprise and non-manufacturing usage of hazardous chemicals (e.g., hospitals, agribusiness, water treatment alkali facilities, etc.) were considered very real issues for the chemical sector. The leaders in promoting worldwide awareness and contingency planning of chemical safety issues were the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

At the Third Meeting of IFCS in Yokohama, Japan in December 1998, IFCS issued the "International Chemical Safety Advisory" which became the chemical industry standard on Y2K. For its part, OECD served as a coordinating and collaborating organization establishing the "Electronic Information Clearing House on Chemical Emergencies" supported by the 29 member nations of the Working Group on Chemical Accidents.

The IYCC closely coordinated chemical safety awareness with IFCS and maintained a loose association with OECD throughout the year. In particular, the IFCS has industry or government national focal points in most countries. The IYCC developed three advisories for national coordinators in consultation with IFCS, focusing on collaboration of national coordinators and IFCS national focal points, raising awareness on ammonia, chlorine and propane risks, and promoting rollover watch coordination between the two organizations. The IYCC circulated all the IFCS contact information and IFCS posted a hot link to IYCC as part of its year end initiatives. The IYCC assisted the U.S. Agency for International Development's production of a Chemical Plant Y2K Safety Guide. Based on actual experience with the Egyptian chemical sector, the guide was widely distributed internationally and posted on the IFCS web site.

No chemical safety incidents have been reported as a result of Y2K problems.

9. Customs

Addressing the potential for Y2K in customs is vital to ensure that the international flow of good and services, essential for all economic activity, were not interrupted. The two leaders in the sector are the World Customs Organization (WCO)14 and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which maintains the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA). ASYCUDA is a computerized customs management system that covers most foreign trade procedures and is widely used in UNIX and DOS operating systems in emerging markets such as Africa.

Customs operations vary widely around the world, ranging from highly automated electronic goods declarations (e.g., Singapore) to hand written ledger entries in some less developed nations. The greatest Y2K risk was felt to be in the "middle" countries, those that were in transition from simple computer usage. Six particular areas of concern were cargo and goods declaration and clearance, revenue collection, customs control, trade statistics, passenger clearance, and internal customs organization.

As part of its activities to create awareness and to assist its 150 members, the WCO organized a Workshop on Year 2000 Contingency Planning in March 1999. This workshop produced the Guidelines on Year 2000 Business Continuity Planning. Another paper published by the WCO and distributed worldwide was Customs IT Systems and Year 2000 Compliance. UNCTAD launched a technical awareness program and developed ASYCUDS upgrades for UNIX and DOS operating systems and provided them, as requested, to any country requiring technical assistance.

IYCC's lead on customs was the Year 2000 National Conversion Commission of Mexico. As part of its work in the CAC Region, the Center developed a sector document on customs entitled Customs and the Year 2000 Problem. IYCC distributed the document to all national coordinators, the WCO and posted the document in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese on its web site on 24 November 1999. For its part, WCO linked their web site to IYCC.

Before the date change, the customs sector was of questionable readiness. National coordinators reported in the IYCC readiness survey a wide variety of remediation completion dates ranging from before June 1999 to December 1999 with an average date of August 1999. The dependency on technology varied as well from many slightly dependent to a few highly dependent, and this dependency did not correspond with a country's readiness. Even some developed countries had completion dates as late as November 1999.

Fortunately, the millennium rollover saw only select glitches in customs. Most of these were related to the UNIX and DOS systems that had not upgraded to the later ASYCUDA versions. These were manually fixed, or, in some cases, are awaiting the upgrades.

10. Government Services

Government services, sometimes referred to as public services, vary from country to country. Most governments provide or manage critical infrastructure services, such as power and telecommunications. Health care and customs are also provided by many governments. Beyond this, other government services, such as civil servant payrolls, social benefits, income tax, defense, and emergency and municipal services, are important for the smooth functioning of the economy and society.

Dependency on technology for these sectors also varies. More developed countries have greater dependencies in their government services than developing countries. Cross border dependencies for these services were low to non-existent, except perhaps in customs, but the effects of any potential Y2K problem in neighboring countries could have been high, especially when looking at defense.

If these systems were not properly remediated resulting in payment delays or errors for civil servants or significant losses in federal revenue due to customs or government financial management system problems, the impact over time could have been serious. Political instability or civil unrest could have occurred in some countries. Finally, Y2K errors in defense warning systems could have caused defense forces to react mistakenly. To assure that the world’s most dangerous arsenals remained under positive control, the United States and Russia established a Center for Year 2000 Strategic Stability in Colorado Springs, U.S., where forces from both nations cooperated to watch and analyze data from each country’s warning systems during the date change period.

Customs and health, which are discussed separately in this section, are the only government services in which many countries used a similar system and where an international Y2K effort existed. For the most part all other government systems were the responsibility of the national coordinators. Some of these systems, such as defense and government payroll, were viewed as sensitive and not discussed in great detail in national reports.

The IYCC understood the importance of government services and its sensitive nature. Its web page promoted best practices in municipal planning and emergency services. In addition, during cross-border sector discussions at regional conferences, government services meetings were often included to allow national coordinators to share information and learn best practices. The Central America and Caribbean region had government services as a focus for a regional conference.

According to the IYCC readiness survey, national coordinators reported government services as one of the least prepared sectors, with an average remediation completion date of late August 1999. At the same time, the survey results indicated government services were not highly dependent on technology.

During the date change, minor Y2K problems did emerge. As the International Y2K Glitch Report indicates, the majority of reported problems were in this sector (see Appendix C). The incidents included heating in government apartment building temporarily not working, financial management systems not operating properly, and defense satellite problems. While most of these problems were fixed within hours, in other cases they implemented their contingency plans, including operating manually, until the system could be remediated or a new system purchased and installed.


Footnotes

6 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was established in 1989 to promote open trade and practical economic cooperation among its 21 member economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

7 Mercosur is a commercial agreement of the countries of southern South America. The basic idea is to develop an economic integration, one market. Full members of Mercosur are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Associates to the pact are Bolivia and Chile.

8 The East African Co-operation (EAC) is an inter-governmental organization with the mandate to promote regional integration and development among the Republics of Kenya, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. As the main coordinating body for the partner states, the EAC's overriding goal is to promote a people-centered economic, political, social and cultural development on the basis of balance, equity and mutual benefit of the member states.

9 Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) mission is to combine the efforts of its fourteen member states to ensure a peaceful atmosphere of political stability, democracy, good governance and respect for human rights in the Community. SADC's members include Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

10 The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS or CEDEAO in French) was created on 28 May 1975 in Lagos, Nigeria. Its mission is to promote economic integration in all fields of economic activity with the establishment of a West African economic union as an ultimate goal. ECOWAS aim is to improve the living standard of the people, ensuring economic growth and strengthening relations between its sixteen Member States. These include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

11 Some external analysts were concerned that Western Europe's focus on the Euro conversion had dangerously delayed attention to Y2K. However within the region the experience provided confidence that large software changes could be managed successfully. In addition, national governments had already printed extra banknotes in the national currency in order to release printing capacity for Euro notes (to be issued in 2001), saving a contingency step that other countries took solely for Y2K.

12 Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bermuda, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameron, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Hong Kong SAR, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Latvia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, USA, Venezuela, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

13 The last report in September 1999 showed even greater levels of readiness.

14 Founded in 1950 and based in Brussels, Belgium, WCO represents 150 national customs administrations to ensure effective harmonization in the sector.

Next Chapter