oversight

Reported Y2K Status of the 21 Largest U.S. Cities

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-07-15.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

       United States

GAO    General Accounting
       Washington,
                            Office
                     D.C. 20548

       Accounting and Information
       Management  Division



        B-283214


       July 15, 1999

      The Honorable Robert F. Bennett
      Chairman
      The Honorable Christopher Dodd
      Vice Chairman
      Special Committee on the   .
        Year 2000 Technology Problem
      United States Senate

      Subject: Reported Y2K Status of the 21 Largest U.S. Cities
                                                                         ..._
       Key city services--’mcluding the provision of water and wastewater treatment, emergency
      services, transportation systems, city government services, and the operation of public
      buildings--are critical to the safety and well being of city residents as we move into the next
      century. At your request, we identified the reported Year 2000 (Y2K) status of the nation’s
      21 largest cities.’ On July 12, 1999, we briefed your office on the results of our work. This
      letter provides a high-level summary of the information presented at that briefing, including
      background information and the reported readiness of those cities. The briefing slides are
      included in appendix I.

      Background
      Most large cities provide their residents a variety of services, often including water and
      wastewater treatment, transportation systems, and emergency services-91 1 systems, fire and
      police services, and emergency medical services. Cities also typically own and operate
      telecommunications systems, public buildings, and a variety of city government services--




      r According to 1996populationestimates,the United States’21 largestcities are (1) New York, New York,
      (2) Los Angeles, California, (3) Chicago,Illinois, (4) Houston, Texas,(5) Philadelphia,Pennsylvania,(6) San
      Diego, California, (7) Phoenix,Arizona, (8) SanAntonio, Texas, (9) Dallas, Texas, (10) Detroit, Michigan,
      (11) SanJose,California, (12) Indianapolis,Indiana,(13) San Francisco,California, (14) Jacksonville,Florida,
      (15) Baltimore, Maryland, (16) Columbus,Ohio, (17) El Paso,Texas,(18) Memphis,Tennessee,
      (19) Milwaukee, Wisconsin, (20) Boston, Massachusetts,and (21) Washington,District of Columbia.




                                                             GAG/A&ID-99-246R Y2K Status of 21 Largest Cities
including city payroll, revenue collection and payment systems. Although a few cities also
operate hospitals and electric power plants, these services are most often provided by state,
county, or private entities.


It is important to note that some key services are provided by a mix of city and other entities. ’
For example, within the transportation service area, most cities are responsible for traffic
lights and controls, but not for subways and commuter rail systems. Throughout this letter
and briefing, when discussing the Y2K status of key service areas, we only address the
portion that is city owned and operated.

In providing key services to city residents, cities often use automated systems and equipment.
These systems and equipment are subject to Y2K failures. Such failures could lead to a
breakdown in a city’s infrastructure, potentially seriously affecting city residents.


Cities’ Reported YZK Readiness Varies

Our survey of major cities identified significant variances in reported Y2K readiness. Two
cities reported that they had completed their Y2K efforts. Nine cities expected to complete
their Y2K preparations by September 30, and the remaining 10 cities expected to complete
their preparations by December 3 1 .2 Completing Y2K activities in the last months of the
year increases the risk that key services will not be Y2K ready in time for 2000, because
there will not be enough time to deal with unanticipated complications.


On average, cities reported completing work for 45 percent of the key service areas in which
they had some responsibility. They also stated that work is well underway on the remaining
services. Cities were most likely to have reported completing work in their transportation
systems and telecommunications equipment. Relatively few, however, reported completing
their portions of water and wastewater treatment systems, public building systems, and
emergency service systems.

Given the amount of Y2K work remaining to be done in the last months of the year,
contingency plans are critical to ensure that cities will continue to provide key services
through the Year 2000 date change. Seven large cities reported completing Y2K contingency



’ In most cities, the majority of city servicesare scheduledto be completed before this completion date. For :
example,Los An,oelesplans to have all key city systemsready by September30, except for its wastewater
treatmentsystems,which are to be completedin November. Similarly, El Pasoplans to be Year 2000 ready by I
September1, exceptfor its pohce department,which is scheduledfor completion on December 1.



2                                                   GAOMMD-99-246R Y2K Status of 21 Largest Cities
         plans, while 14 cities reported that their plans are still being developed. Further, 20 of the 21
         largest cities recognized the value of testing their contingency plans: 5 cities stated that they
         had completed this exercise; 7 cities reported that such testing was underway; and 8 reported
         that they planned to test their contingency plans. Only one city stated that it would not test
         contingency plans.


         Objectives, Scope,and Methodology
         As requested, our objective was to identify the reported Y2K status of key services provided
         by the nation’s 21 largest cities. To do so, we developed a structured set of questions and
         interviewed city officials by telephone between June 28 and July 9,1999. When appropriate,
         we requested supporting documentation. We also reviewed city web sites to supplement city
         officials’ responses. We confirmed our understanding of their Y2K status by sending
         summaries of our interviews to city officials and asking them to confirm or modify their
         reported status, as appropriate. We conducted our work in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta,
         GA from June 28,1999 through July 13, 1999.




                                                     -----




     As agreed with your office, we will send copies to the Honorable John Koskinen, Chairman
     of the President’s Council on Year 2000 Conversion; the Honorable Jacob J. Lew, Director of
     the Office of Management and Budget; and other interested parties. Copies will also bemade
     available to others upon request.

     If you have any questions on matters discussed in this letter, please call me at (202) 51%
     6408, or Colleen Phillips, Assistant Director, at (202) 512-6326. We can also be reached by
     e-mail at willemsseni.aimd@aao.nov and philliusc.a.imd@~ao,aov, respectively. Key
     contributors to this assignment were Glenda Wright, Barbarol James, and Sandra Fissel.




c/   Joel C. Willemssen
     Director, Civil Agencies Information Systems



     3                                                 GAOMMD-99-246R YZK Status of 21 Largest Cities
    GAo Accounting and Information
        Manaaement Division

         Reported Y2K Readiness                                            of
         21 Largest U.S. Cities
         Briefing for the Special Committee on the Year 2000
         Technology Problem, United States Senate

         July 12,
               L 1999

                                          EGA0  Accountability   * Integrity   * Reliability



1
    GAO
                Objective, Scope, and Methodology
    Objective
       l  Identify reported Y2K status of key services provided by the
          nation’s 21 largest cities

    Scope
       l    21 largest cities (1996 population estimates):

            l   New York, NY                    l    San Antonio, TX                     l   Baltimore, MD
            l   Los Angeles, CA                 l    Dallas, TX                          l   Columbus, Ol-i .
            l   Chicago, IL                     l    Detroit, Ml                         l   El Paso, TX
            l   Houston, TX       ’             l    San Jose, CA*                       l   Memphis, TN
            l   Philadelphia,, PA               l    Indianapolis, IN                    l   Milwaukee, W I
            l   San Diego, CA                   l    San Francisco, CA                 ,.l   Boston, MA*
            l   Phoenix, AZ                     l    Jacksonville, FL                    l   Washington, DC


3      ’These cities identified their statements as Year 2000 Readiness Disclosures.
    GAo Objective, Scope,
        and Methodology (cont’d.)
    Methodology
       l interviewed city officials by telephone June 28 - July 9, 1999

       l       requested information on the Y2K status of systems supporting
               key city services:
                l   electric power          l hospitals/healthcare facilities
                l   wateulwastewater        0 transportation
                l   telecommunications      l public buildings
                l   emergency services      l city government services

                0 Y2K-induced failures in these services could significantly affect
                  city residents

           l   requested supporting documentation and confirmation of data
4
    GAo Objective, Scope,
        and Methodology (cont’d.)
    Response rate: 100%


    Notes:

       l     In many cities, key services--including electric power and
             hospitals/healthcare facilities--are provided by state,’county, or
             private entities. Some key services are provided by a mix of city and
             other entities. For example, within the transportation service area,
             most cities are responsible for traffic lights and controls, but not for
             subways and commuter rail systems.

       l     Throughout this briefing, when discussing the Y2K status of key
             service areas, only the portion that is city owned and operated is
             addressed.
5
    GAO
              Summary of Survey Results
    l   Large cities report that they are working on the Y2K problem

        l   2 cities reported being fully Year 2000 ready

        l   9 cities plan to be fully Year 2000 ready by September 30

        l   10 cities plan to be fully Year 2000 ready between October 1 and
            December 31




6
GAO
           Summary of Survey Results (cont’d.)
l   On average, cities reported that their work is completed in 45
    percent of the key services in which they have some responsibility,
    and that work is well underway on the remaining key services

     l   A majority of cities reported completing work on their portions of
         the transportation and telecommunications service areas

     l   Few cities reported completing work on their portions of water
         and wastewater treatment systems, public building systems, and
         emergency service systems
    GAO
               Summary of Survey Results (cont’d.)
    l   Most cities said they are having the Y2K readiness of key systems
        independently verified

         l   6 cities said they have completed independent verification

         l   13 cities reported having independent verification ongoing

         l   2 cities plan for future independent verification




8
    GAO
               Summary of Survey Results (cont’d.)
    l   Large cities said they are working on Year 2000 contingency plans

        l  7 cities said they have completed contingency plans
         0 14 cities reported that contingency plans are still in development

    a   , . .and testing them

         * 5 cities said they have tested contingency       plans
         l  7 cities reported they are currently testing   their contingency plans
         l .8 cities said they plan to test contingency    plans
         0 1 city reported that it does not plan to test   contingency plans

    l   All 21 cities stated that they will have Y2K emergency operations
        centers working through the date rollover

9
     GAo Survey Results:
         Cities’ ReDorted Y2KStatus
     Cities’ Estimates for Completing Y2K Efforts on Key City Services

             City                        Currently Y2K Ready       Fully Y2K Ready by    Fully Y2K Ready between
                                                                   September 30,1999     October 1,1999 and
                                                                                         December 31,1999
             New York, NY                                                     X
              Los Angeles. CA                                                                       X
              Chicago, IL                                                                           X
              Houston, TX                                                     X
              Philadelphia, PA                                                X
              San Diego, CA                                                   X
              Phoenix. AZ                                                                            X
              San Antonio, TX        I                         I                                   .X
              Dallas. TX                            X
            1 Detroit. MI            I                         I                                    X


                                                                                                    X

            1 Baltimore. MD          I                         I
              Columbus, OH
                                                                                                    X
             Memphis, TN                                                      X
             Milwaukee, WI                                                    X
             Boston, MA                             X
             Washineton. DC




IO      ‘This estimate excludes San,Jose’s city-owned telecommunications equipment, which is currently being assessed.
        City officials stated that untii this aSsessriient is completed at the end of July, the city could not estimate when these
        $ystems would be Y2K ready.
 GAo Survey Results:
     Cities’ Reported Y2K Status
     Reported Y2K Readiness of Key City Services
      (Y=Fully Ready, N=Not Ready, N/A=Not Applicable--the city does not own or operate this service,
      Note: Many cities operate some (but not all) systems within a key service. Only city-operated systems are
     addressed in this table.)
            I                             Key City        Electric    1 Water/               Telecom-          Emergency       Hospitals/       Trans-          Public       City
                                           Services       Power         Wastewater           munications       Services        Healthcare       Portation       Bldgs.       Gov’t
                                                                        Treatment            (not 911)                         Facilities                                    Services
                Cities
                                                                            Y                     Y                N                N               Y              Y             Y
                                                                            N                     N                N              N/A               Y              N             Y
                                                                            N                     Y                N              N/A               N              N             N
                                                                            N                     Y                N                Y               Y              Y             Y
                                                                            v                     Y                Y              N/A               Y              Y             N
                --__--- -                                                   N            I        Y                N       I      N/A       I       Y             _N             Y
                Phoenix                               1     N/A
                                                            ^...^    ,I     N            I        N        I       N       I      -.,_-
                                                                                                                                  N/A               Y       1     _.
                                                                                                                                                                  N      1       Y-     I
                                                             N              i-i                   Y                Y              N/A                       I     v      I              I
                                                            N/A             Y                     Y                Y              N/A
                                                             N              N                     N                N              N/A




                ..-_.    .   .   I-----                    -..--
                                                                                     I



                Rnctnn
                                                           N/A                                                     Y       I      N/A               Y       1 Y                 Y
                                          .on, DC          N/A              Y        I            N                Y               Y                Y       1 .N                N


11
     GAo Survey Results:
         Cities’ Reported Y2K Status
     Reported Status’ of Cities’ Y2K Efforts

                                                                                                     Testing of
                                                                                Contingency Plans?   Contingency Plans is
                                                          Completed, Ongoing,                        Completed, Ongoing,
                                                                                                     Planned, or Not
                                                                                                     Planned?
                                                                                                            Planned
                                                                                                           Completed
                                                                                                            Planned
                                                                                                            Planned
                                                                                                           Completed
                                                                                                            Ongoing
                                                                                                            Ongoing
                                                                                                           Completed
                                                                                                           Completed
                                                                                                           Completed
                                                                                                            Ongoing
                                                                                                            Planned
                                                                                                            Ongoing
                                                                                                            Ongoing
                                                                                                            Planned
                                                                                                            Ongoing
                                                                                                            Planned
                                                                                                          Not Planned
                                                                                                            Planned
                                                                                                            Ongoing
                                                                                                            Planned



12    ‘In most cities, the majority of city functions are scheduledto be completed well before this date. For example, Los Angeles plans to have   al
      key city systems ready by September30, except for its wastewater treatment systems,which are to be completed in November. Similarly,
      El Paso plans to be Year 2000 ready by September1, except for its police department,which is scheduled for completion on December 1.
      2This estimate excludes San Jose’s city-owned telecommunicationsequiument, which is currentlv being assessed.
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