To highlight the urgency of fixing a potentially disastrous problem in many of the nation's computer systems, the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology is hosting the International Symposium on the Year 2000 on June 9-10, 1997, at the agency's headquarters in Gaithersburg, Md. Rep. Constance A. Morella (R-Md.), chair of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Technology, will present the keynote address.
"We are all right now competing in a race against time to avert an impending computer catastrophe and, unless something is done, millions of computers, billions of dollars, and just about every human on the planet may be affected," said Morella. "This NIST conference will be invaluable to us, in Congress, the federal government and private industry to discuss the global implications of this problem and to search for international solutions."
The year 2000 computer glitch, often called the "millennium bug," refers to computer programs on some large computer systems that use two-digit date designations to denote the year (such as "95" to mean "1995"). When processing information containing dates in 2000 and after, many of these systems will produce wildly illogical errors, such as refusing a 70-year-old's retirement benefits because he's underage. Other systems simply will shut down, unable to recognize "00" as a date.
The potential reach of this problem has personal, professional and global implications. Dates are critical on systems processing such information as life insurance, home mortgages, driver's licenses and business leases, but they also play an important part in air traffic control systems, health care records, weapons systems and global telecommunications systems.
In addition to Morella's keynote, the symposium will feature experts from industry associations, companies, consulting firms and government agencies in the United States and abroad, who will raise awareness, analyze the extent of the problem and present practical solutions.
The symposium is co-sponsored by NIST, the Data Administration Management Association-National Capitol Region, the Chief Information Officer Council's Year 2000 Subcommittee, the Office of Management and Budget, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense.
For a copy of the agenda or additional information, visit the symposium's web site at http://www.nist.gov/y2k. To register, contact Lori Phillips, B116 Administration Building, NIST, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-0001, (301) 975-3881, fax: (301) 948-2067, e-mail: lori.phillips [at] nist.gov.
A non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.