Public sector slow on Y2K plans: Auditor General

Only 60% of New Zealand's "public sector entities" have set priorities for a year 2000 action plan, according to a survey conducted by the office of the Auditor-General. That's despite the fact that nearly 20% of them have already experienced some form of disruption caused by Y2K non-compliance. The report contains some alarming statistics. The survey covered 256 government departments, CHEs, port and energy companies, local bodies and a range of other "entities". Of those surveyed, 11% felt that Y2K was not a significant issue, and the report notes that "more attention" needs to be given to the area of Y2K compliance in the area of "related entities" such as suppliers and subsidiaries.

Only 60% of New Zealand’s “public sector entities” have set priorities for a year 2000 action plan, according to a survey conducted by the office of the Auditor-General. That’s despite the fact that nearly 20% of them have already experienced some form of disruption caused by Y2K non-compliance.

The report, tabled in parliament on December 19, addresses the public sector’s readiness for the year 2000 and contains some alarming statistics.

The survey covered 256 government departments, CHEs, port and energy companies, local bodies and a range of other “entities”.

Of those surveyed, 11% felt that Y2K was not a significant issue, and the report notes that “more attention” needs to be given to the area of Y2K compliance in the area of “related entities” such as suppliers and subsidiaries.

But Helen Meehan of the State Services Commission sees the report as encouraging. “We are keeping a very close eye on the Y2K issue and I would say departments are generally handling it well.” She believes most government departments are aware of the issue and “proceeding accordingly”.

Of those departments which took part in the survey, the core government departments recorded among the highest scores in all areas. Lowest scoring were the local authorities and tertiary institutes. The report includes the example of one local authority which had identified the risks to its admin systems but had neglected to consider electronic systems which monitor street lights, water pressure systems and so on.

According to Meehan, the State Services Commission has played a dual role in the year 2000 arena.

“We’ve said to chief executives, ‘You must have this area under control’, and we’ve also said, ‘Where can we help?’” The commission has facilitated co-operation between departments on the Y2K issue and hopes to encourage open dialogue as the deadline approaches.

The report draws no conclusions about the government’s readiness for the year 2000 but does include several notes on what departments should be doing and how to go about formulating an action plan.

Although the report was tabled in Parliament, no one was there to witness it. Parliament had already risen for the year when it was introduced.

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