Thank you, Judy [Newton].
Good morning and welcome to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Before I introduce our keynote speaker, I'd like to take a moment or two to tell you about how this symposium came about and why we all are gathered here today.
By the fact that you are in this room, there are some things I don't have to tell you.
I've heard that any number of hotels are taking reservations now for New Year's Eve so people can ring in 2000. I wonder how many CIOs, systems administrators and programmers are making plans for a vigil of a different kind on that same night.
Like your organizations, the agencies of the federal government have been working to assess the extent of the problem and to put effective implementation and testing plans into place so that our systems will be ready when the time comes.
Under the guidance of the Office of Management and Budget, federal agencies are sharing management and technical expertise on year 2000 fixes that are based on industry best practice. The government also is using standard contract language to acquire only year 2000-compliant systems.
Here at NIST, we are helping by doing some of the things we do best—emphasizing standards and sharing information.
On the year 2000 issue as on many others, we have worked closely with voluntary standards organizations and with those who use the standards, especially when it comes to the need for objective, neutral tests for information technology.
Sharing information about this problem has gained momentum in recent months as more and more organizations begin to realize they must heed the warnings and start to work on their systems now. In this context, our own efforts to raise awareness about this issue recently have met with fewer blank stares and more knowing glances.
Unlike many other critical technology issues of our day, overcoming the year 2000 problem does not require a major research effort. The solutions are available, and private- sector vendors are ready and able to provide them. As you know, it's time to find the right solutions, roll up those sleeves and get to work.
This conference came into existence more than a year ago at a Congressional hearing. The House Science Committee's Subcommittee on Technology had called the hearing to review the origins and extent of the year 2000 problem and to get ideas about strategies and tools that would help facilitate a solution.
In the course of the discussion, it became clear that educating people about this problem and working together on solutions were challenges that lay ahead. Chairwoman Connie Morella and other members of the subcommittee rightly recommended that a symposium was needed to tackle this issue in greater depth. As a witness at that hearing, I knew NIST would be more than happy to oblige.
With that, I am more than pleased to welcome here this morning a person whose efforts and personal interest in this problem have increased awareness of the year 2000 problem at government agencies and others in this country.
Representing the Eighth District of Maryland, where you all happen to be sitting this morning, I give to you our Representative Connie Morella.