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Press Release

For Immediate Release: March 31, 1999
Contact: CDC Media Relations (404) 639-3286

CDC and ATSDR Year 2000 Preparations

The scope of the Year 2000 (Y2K) issue, also known as the Millennium Bug, spans virtually all sectors of the economy, public and private businesses and organizations, and other elements of daily life that are affected by information technology and other devices that contain date-sensitive embedded microchips. Included in potentially affected services are the practice of healthcare and public health which is responsible for preventing disease, environmental hazards, and injuries.

The Y2K phenomenon exists because for decades, it's been common practice for programmers to use the last two digits, instead of all four, to represent the year. This practice was believed to save storage and memory space and minimize data entry burden. However, as the year 2000 approaches, public health agencies must join with both the public and private sectors and take aggressive action to maintain system continuity, quality, and integrity to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted information flow.

Achieving Year 2000 compliance is a top priority for CDC and its sister agency -- the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). The practice of public health is very date dependent and it is critical to maintain the quality, continuity, and integrity of the agencies' scientific and business processes. There are about 230 major information systems at CDC and ATSDR that represent an estimated 12 million lines of programming code and world-wide information transactions. CDC and ATSDR's projected cost for the human resources, hardware and software necessary to achieve Y2K compliance is approximately $21 million.

To meet the Y2K challenge, CDC and ATSDR have been working diligently to ensure all information systems, external data exchanges, laboratory equipment, building and facilities, telecommunications networks, information technology infrastructure, and commercial software is Y2K compliant and ready for the millennium transition.

CDC began its Y2K-related actions in 1996 and developed a multi-faceted action plan to address the transition. Key elements of this plan include:

  • Preparation - raising internal organizational awareness as well as identifying assets vulnerable to Y2K;
  • Assessment - analyzing assets for Y2K readiness;
  • Planning - developing comprehensive project plan, strategies, approaches, methodologies, and standards;
  • Remediation - converting code and data, replacing or retiring systems, and acquiring new systems or assets as necessary;
  • Evaluation - project monitoring, independent verification and validation testing of system compliance, and ongoing monitoring of remediated systems;
  • Outreach - maintaining awareness, assessing partner readiness and plans, and coordinating compliance efforts with partners; and
  • Contingency Planning - planning to ensure continuity of critical functions in the event of system and/or infrastructure service failures or problems.

The following highlights summarize the agency's status toward achieving Y2K compliance:

  • By the end of 1998, CDC and ATSDR had achieved Y2K compliance for all major information systems and external data exchanges with other partners. Work is nearing completion on all other Y2K project aspects such as repair or replacement of devices with embedded microchips. Compliance in the other areas is expected to be reached by June 1999. An extensive contingency plan has also been developed.
  • CDC and ATSDR have been active in outreach efforts in the healthcare and public health industries in coordination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the President's Council for Y2K Conversion. CDC has actively worked with many partners in the healthcare and public health areas to, among other things, conduct a readiness assessment of state health agencies and co-sponsor a national teleconference of Y2K readiness in clinical laboratories.
  • Work is underway to conduct a Y2K environmental simulation test with our public health partners to ensure Y2K readiness for processes that cross organizational boundaries and to instill public confidence.

The public's health and safety and the quality of healthcare are a top priority for CDC and ATSDR - especially in the face of the Year 2000 challenge. It is essential that healthcare providers and government health agencies maintain a full commitment to Y2K readiness, testing, and contingency planning. Equally essential is the public's awareness of the Y2K issue and their ability to take prudent action based on accurate and timely information. CDC and ATSDR will continue to test and address systematic issues that may relate to the Y2K challenge - and communicate these activities to it's clients in the global community.

For additional details on CDC/ATSDR's Y2K actions, please visit our web site at:

Other sources for Y2K information can be found at The President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion web page at: or by calling the Council's free Y2K information line at 1-888-USA-4-Y2K.


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