Segment 2 Of 5 Previous Hearing Segment(1) Next Hearing Segment(3)
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Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Y2K: WILL WE GET THERE ON TIME?
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 1998
U.S. House of Representatives,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Subcommittee on Technology, Committee on Science, and Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology, Committee on Government Reform and Oversight
The committees met, pursuant to notice, at 9:36 a.m., in Room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Bud Shuster [chairman of the committee] presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order.
Before we begin today's business, I would like to welcome our esteemed colleagues for this very important Y2K Task Force. The hearing will be conducted jointly between the T&I Committee and the Task Force. Chairman Horn and Chairwoman Morella and their respective subcommittees have taken the leadership in the House on this Y2K computer glitch. We are very fortunate that they will be participating today.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Today's hearing will be the first in a series of hearings held by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The focus is on the year 2000 computer glitch as it relates to transportation and infrastructure. The poll released just last week indicates that nearly half of all the Americans are worried about what will happen midnight January 1 of the year 2000. With fewer than 460 days until the new millennium, the committee is concerned that the transportation community will fall victim to the Y2K bug. The year 2000 is an immovable object. We have one chance to get it right. While we do not wish to propagate a doomsday scenario, we must be certain that computer failures will not jeopardize public health and safety. We have an obligation to assist and to assess the risk, and if needed, bring the full weight of the committee to bear on this critical issue.
Today's hearing will focus on problems facing the aviation industry. To date, most attention is focused on the FAA and the air traffic control system. While this is critical to aviation safety, it is only one of many issues confronting civil aviation. The aviation community realizes that its systems are interdependent. Y2K compliant airlines need Y2K compliant airports, electronics, and air traffic controls. The industry as a whole will not be able to function if any one of these systems fails. The community must work together in order to avoid unnecessary safety and economic problems.
Today we will hear from a number of distinguished witnesses from all aspects of the aviation sector. First we will welcome my dear friend, I was going to say my old friend, but I will say my long-time friend instead, former chairman of the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, a former member of this committee, Bill Clinger. Chairman Clinger brings a wealth of knowledge and experience.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Next, the Honorable Jane Garvey, FAA administrator, and General John J. Kelly, assistant administrator for weather services at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to discuss the administration's efforts on Y2K.
We will hear the testimony from a panel of experts on the year 2000 computer glitch. Also we will hear from a panel representing the various aspects of aviation industry. Today's witnesses are leaders in the aviation industry and will discuss their experience with solving the Y2K problem.
On a personal note, I might report that before I lost my mind and ran for Congress, I was in the computer business for 17 years. Indeed, was involved in installing the first univac file computer as an air traffic control computer in the Pittsburgh Airport. So I sometimes think I know more than I want to know about computer problems. Particularly, I am told that something like 50 percent of the coding down at air traffic control is still in machine coding. Machine coding, for any of you who have been in the computer industry long enough know that it is of enormous difficulty to go in and change machine coding. Bad enough to have to deal with COBOL operating systems. But machine coding is the most difficult of all, and requires the most skilled programmers and systems analysts. So I am particularly sensitive to the problems that our country faces and that we face in aviation in particular as a result of the Y2K problem. Certainly I am willing and anxious to be helpful in any way that we can be.
Does anybody else seek recognition? Yes, Jim?
Mr. KUCINICH. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee. I first of all want to thank the Chair, as well as Chairman Horn and Chairman Morella and others for holding today's joint hearing on the implications of the year 2000 computer problem for the aviation industry. It is fitting that today we bring together the expertise of three congressional committees, the Government Reform Committee, the Science Committee, and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to identify the potential threat to aviation posed by the year 2000 problem. It is fitting because this is a computer problem that knows no jurisdictional bounds.
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Our committees have held numerous hearings on the Y2K issue in the past 2 years. We have learned that this is a problem that will impact all sectors of the economy, from banking to telecommunications, agriculture to transportation. In some cases, Y2K problems will cause inconvenience, in others, economic losses. However, in some cases the Y2K problem, if it is not fixed, could lead to loss of life That's why today's hearing on the aviation industry is so important.
Some gloom and doom scenarios predict that come January 1 the year 2000, planes will fall out of the sky. I don't believe this will happen. But I am concerned how the Federal Aviation Administration and the aviation industry will handle the transition to the year 2000. Last month the GAO testified that it was doubtful that the FAA would have all of its critical systems fixed before January 1, the year 2000. This is a finding of concern to all of us. If FAA computers are not fixed, then we face a potential shutdown of the entire aviation industry. FAA responded to this GAO report and assured Congress that it would have all critical systems fixed in time. I am pleased that the FAA is appearing before this committee today, and look forward to a full accounting of their progress. I must say that given the work and the reputation of Jane Garvey, administrator, I think this country should have confidence that the FAA will be up to the challenge.
But even if the FAA is fully Y2K compliant, that will not be enough to keep the aviation industry healthy. This industry relies upon thousands of computers to perform billions of calculations, covering everything from weather forecasts to scheduling and ticketing. Virtually every aspect of flying a plane, from maintenance to luggage tracking, relies on computers.
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The aviation industry faces more complex Y2K problems than almost any other industry. The sheer number of computers, the complications caused by frequent data exchanges between different organizations, and the international coordination required in the industry all make the problem extraordinarily complicated and time consuming.
I am pleased today that we will hear from a number of different members of the aviation community and hear about potential problems faced in different parts of the aviation industry. The Y2K problem is not yet high profile. It doesn't make the headlines on the evening news, yet. But if the problem is not fixed, it will have enormous implications for the aviation industry and the American economy.
I am pleased, Mr. Chairman, that we are holding these hearings, and hope that come January 1, the year 2000, the aviation industry will be able to guarantee to the public that it will be safe to fly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. Mr. Duncan?
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I first of all want to thank you for holding these hearings on the Y2K problem. This is a very important topic, as all of us know, and one that needs I think as much attention as possible. I also want to thank my good friends, Congresswoman Connie Morella and Congressman Steve Horn for their willingness to hold this joint hearing today with the subcommittees that they chair. Of course this hearing will focus on aviation issues. The three of us share an intense interest, as does Chairman Shuster, in ensuring that the FAA and the aviation industry are prepared for the new millennium.
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I would say that both Congresswoman Morella and Congressman Horn are certainly experts on the Y2K issue. I am so pleased that they will be a part of the hearing today because I know their participation will significantly increase the hearing's value. I also want to welcome the other members of the House Task Force on Y2K.
The year 2000 problem has been referred to as a slow moving disaster. Because it is slow moving, some Government agencies, businesses, and individuals have placed this problem on the back burner and they have not given it the priority it deserves. I have followed closely the many news reports of the potential Y2K problems. I have heard people warn that prior to the turn of the century, we will all have to prepare for the worst. For instance, some people warn that before January 1, 2000, everyone should have extra cash on hand because it is likely that ATMs and the bank computers may break down in some way. I read recently that the Federal Reserve is printing $50 billion extra in cash to prepare for this potential situation.
I have heard some experts warn that even the most basic computer chips like those in some cars will fail and leave us stranded. There have been claims that without proper preparation, January 1, 2000, will arrive and there will be no electricity. It really is a mind-boggling problem that the computers, which do so much for us, can't recognize that we are going from the year 1999 to the year 2000 and it's going to be so costly.
However, I would like to believe that the doomsday scenarios that some people are writing and speaking of will not be the case. I would like to see and hope to see the new millennium arrive with only celebration, not trepidation. In fact, that is why we are here today. I have been told that one-third of the problems associated with the year 2000 conversion are within the transportation sector. We want to make sure that the Government and the transportation industry properly prepares its systems for the year 2000.
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Regarding the potential Y2K problems in aviation, the witnesses we have today represent a great range of aviation interests. As Chairman Shuster has already welcomed these witnesses, I will simply say that we are very pleased to have our good friend, the former ranking member of this subcommittee, Mr. Clinger with us. And Administrator Garvey, I understand that Administrator Garvey has identified over 400 systems in the FAA which are mission critical and that may have a Y2K problem. We have General Kelly of NOAA here today, whose organization is responsible for several weather, and therefore safety related systems that must be Y2K compliant. We also are honored to have Mrs. Carol Hallett, the president and CEO of the Air Transport Association, representing most of the major U.S. airlines, all of which must be Y2K compliant for clearly safety reasons. We have representatives from two airports, Wichita and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
I just might add, Mr. Chairman, that I think one of the best summaries of this problem was written and appeared yesterday in the Wall Street Journal by a member of the other body, Senator Bennett. He said among other things, he said the problem is global, and the greatest amount of time connected with solving this problem is tied up in testing. He said you can have all your computers and systems under control and still get hurt. He also said that some systems won't work even after being remediated. I think he is doing a lot to try to call attention to this situation.
So I think this is one of the most important hearings that this committee has probably ever held. I am just very pleased to be a small part of it. I thank you very much for giving me this time.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentleman. The Chair would note that all Members' opening statements will be put in the record. Does anybody else seek recognition?
Mr. BARCIA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to join my colleagues in welcoming everyone to this morning's hearing. I would like to say a few words about FAA's Y2K efforts. At our February hearing, the situation at FAA was grim. FAA was on the OMB watch list and did not have a comprehensive Y2K plan in place. Since then, the FAA under the leadership of Administrator Garvey, has made outstanding progress.
Yet while much has been done, much still remains. The FAA got a very late start in its Y2K efforts. They will be hard-pressed to meet their ambitious schedule. As I outlined my concerns in August, I am still concerned about FAA's plans to deal with the issue of data exchanges as well as their plans for end-to-end testing.
In addition, I have been concerned with the progress made by airlines and airport authorities in addressing the Y2K problem. The efficient operation of the national airspace system is the result of the successful public-private partnership. Efficient air service can only continue if both the airlines and the FAA are Y2K compliant on January 1, the year 2000.
I hope that our witnesses will explain their plans for Y2K compliance, as well as discuss their experience with obtaining the information that they need. I also hope they will make any recommendations as to how we might improve our efforts to address this very serious problem. Finally, I would encourage any of our witnesses to discuss the implications of the Y2K problem on international air service as well as any knowledge of what their international counterparts are doing also to address this issue.
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I want to thank our witnesses for taking the time to appear before our committees. I look forward to their comments.
The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentleman. The Chair would announce that when we do move to the testimony from the witnesses, because this is a joint hearing, and the tradition and rules of the Government Reform Committee are that we swear in the witnesses, we will be swearing in witnesses. I think there is a certain poetic justice to this because the former chairman of that committee was Congressman Clinger, who insisted upon swearing in witnesses, and he will be the first witness to be sworn in in just a few minutes.
Because this is an aviation-oriented hearing, I am going to turn the gavel over now to Congressman Duncan. There are other members who would like to be recognized I understand.
Mr. DUNCAN. [presiding] Thank you very much, Chairman Shuster. I think the next person to give a statement is Congressman Horn.
Mr. HORN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I will be brief. I would like my full remarks put in the record at this point.
[The prepared statements of Mr. Oberstar, Mr. Lipinski, , Ms. Morella, Mr. Costello, and Mr. Horn follow:]
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Mr. HORN. We have held 20 hearings since we held the first one on this subject with the Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology. We have gone to the field recently in the six major cities in America to look at what is going on at the grassroots.
About a year and a half ago, Mrs. Morella and I, with our ranking Democrats, urged the President to do two things. One, appoint somebody that can coordinate this effort for the Executive Branch. That has been done with Mr. Koskinen and the year 2000 panel that he has put together. We also urged him to use the bully pulpit and inform the American citizens and reassure them. We have done that in writing, we have done it personally. He did make one address on this subject. That is before the National Academy of Sciences. I might say that's preaching to the choir. They know all about it.
We need the President and top officials in the Executive Branch to go around the country and explain and to end any fears that are going to be constantly popping up in some of the media that like to alarm people. We need to have sufficient progress, which is what we are looking for today with the Federal Aviation Administration, among others.
I applaud Chairman Shuster and now Chairman Duncan, acting chairman, for doing this on transportation as a whole. I think it is tremendously important. We should note that the General Accounting Office, which is our investigative arm, does not think the Federal Aviation Administration will be ready on time. So we need to be reassured one way or the other by the very able administrator of that agency.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 The question has been raised, would we feel safe to fly on New Years Day. The answer is yes, because we assume FAA and the airlines would have that rule that when in doubt, you ground it. We are all for that. The question is, how far along are we in the conversion of the various computers that relate to moving a plane from one part of the country, one part of the world to the other. So we will be pursuing those questions. Again, we would urge leadership in the Executive Branch and in the companies around the United States and the industries there, also leadership. That is the only thing that is going to get this job done. I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Chairman Horn. I must just say since you mentioned it that this committee, this is the first day of four days of hearings on the Y2K problem that tie into transportation. We are always honored to have the ranking member of the full committee, Mr. Oberstar, with us. He will be involved in all four days of these hearings. But we have referred to him many, many times on this committee as Mr. Aviation, because he is certainly an expert in that area and was formerly chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee. So I'll turn to Mr. Oberstar for any statement he wishes to make at this time.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for your very kind remarks. I do join others in paying tribute to our Chairman Shuster for calling these hearings. As a computer specialist himself with a Ph.D. in the field, he certainly understands the seriousness of the issue and the importance of directing committee attention to this matter at any early date, as we have done.
I thank you for your splendid leadership, the diligence in the field of aviation and welcome long-time dear and wonderful friend, Chairman Clinger. It is nice to be able to reefer to you in those terms. Welcome to this committee hearing and to this room where you and I spent more time I think with each other at various points in our career than we did with our spouses, constructively and productively.
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I will abbreviate my remarks by saying that the Y2K problem literally scared the daylights out of people when it first exploded upon the scene, not just Government, private sector. There was a story in the National Journal earlier this year reporting on the industry problems. ''This is an industry that produces a lot of crummy software'' said Bruce Webster, chief technology officer of Dallas-based Object Systems Group. He went on and the story goes onto describe the problems industry is having.
It isn't a Government, it isn't an industry problem. It is a technology problem. Somewhere back in the dark ages of computer software, about 10 years ago, somebody decided that, it was actually longer than that, about the time actually my wife Jean was a programmer for the first NASA moon launch, working in a computer programming project with industry and Government people, astronauts all gathered. They were saying we don't have enough capacity in memory to have all these numbers. How can we abbreviate these numbers. Somebody came up with just using the last two digits of the century. All of a sudden we have a problem.
What sounded like a really good solution, a brilliant solution, saved companies lots of money and accommodated the reality that we didn't have computer capacity, memory capacity to hold all the data, it sounded like a good idea then. Today the problem is that small systems in very big computers like the 9020 for the host system in air traffic control, governing end route flights, 23 million a year, reads the wrong number in the year 2000, and doesn't tell the cooling system to turn on and the computer system overheats and shuts down. That is the fear. Small little things like that.
To her great credit, Administrator Jane Garvey seized the problem immediately, appointed a Y2K czar, Ray Long, and said get going, this is our highest priority, fix it. By tomorrow, September 30th, FAA will have 99 percent of its systems renovated. What started out as a really huge problem, when analyzed, came down to 280 total air traffic systems of which 224 are mission-critical, of which 84 needed repair, and by the spring of this year, 41 percent of those had already been addressed. The rest will be completed by tomorrow. That is an extraordinary record.
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There is a lot more to be done, much more to be accomplished to be sure that we haven't overlooked some little number, some little date, some software programming. But the fact is that everybody is aware of the problem. It's not one that is being overlooked and isn't one that's being swept under the rug. It is one that is being addressed by the best minds in industry and in Government. With the project we are going to hear about from Chairman Clinger, I know we'll learn a good deal more.
These issues of capacity now are largely behind us. We have today so much capacity we don't know what to do with it in computer systems. In fact, we are being flooded with information, the so-called paperless age is inundating us with paper. It's a good thing for the companies in my district, but not good for people who have to read all that extra paper.
The fact is that we are on top of this issue. The sky is not falling. Chicken Little is wrong. We are on the right track. Today's hearing and the three to follow will give us the path toward understanding where we are, where we're headed, and how to avoid such problems in the future.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Oberstar. The three hearings that will be held on this problem in this committee are on October 2, with railroads and transit, on October 6, with public buildings and highways and pipelines, and October 7, on water transportation and Coast Guard issues.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 As I mentioned in my opening statement, probably the two Members out of all 435 of us who have spent the most time on this issue are Congressman Horn, who has held hearings all over the country, and our good friend Congresswoman Connie Morella, who chairs the appropriate subcommittee on the Science Committee. I would like to call on Congresswoman Morella to give her statement at this time.
Mrs. MORELLA. Thanks very much, Mr. Chairman. I am very pleased to be part of this important hearing dealing with the projected impact of the year 2000 computer problem as it relates to aviation. This is the 11th in a series of hearings that the Technology Subcommittee has held on the Y2K problem. I am pleased to work jointly for the first time with the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. I commend you on the series of hearings that you are going to be holding on Y2K.
I want to thank Chairman Shuster, Ranking Member Oberstar, and indeed Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Mr. Duncan, and Ranking Member Lipinski, for their cooperation and leadership on this critical issue.
Today's hearing will focus on the efforts of the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the aviation industry to address the effects of Y2K and its impact on aviation. In past hearings, we have focused our efforts on the mission-critical components of FAA's air traffic control system. While I still harbor some concerns about the FAA's ability to be fully Y2K compliant before January 1, 2000, I am really pleased with the significant progress that the agency has made since our initial hearing in February this year. Administrator Garvey and her Y2K team have made great strides.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 But the real challenge is to catch up to the OMB milestone for March 1999 so that enough time is left to conduct the costly and time-consuming end-to-end testing of the entire aviation system. As co-chair with Congressman Horn of the House Y2K Task Force, I am often asked whether aircraft will fly and fly safely on that fateful eve as our clocks change from 1999 to the year 2000. As I have said time and time again, I view this problem as a capacity issue and not a safety issue.
I know that the FAA and the aviation industry will not take any chances that could in any way jeopardize aviation safety. However, I believe that there is a real possibility that Y2K will cause some disruption of air service. At this time, I am convinced that it is practical for the FAA and aviation industry to work proactively with all aviation stakeholders to develop contingency plans in the even that they are needed to ensure that certain flights continue and the transportation of people, goods and services are not significantly impacted.
While the FAA has made significant progress mitigating the effects of Y2K on its own systems, several issues still need to be addressed as a result of the hundreds, if not thousands of interdependent data exchange interfaces that support aviation operations. Every component that supports aviation, from navigation to ground-based maintenance and fueling operations, must demonstrate its ability to work together flawlessly with other aviation components to ensure that seamless transition to the year 2000 and beyond.
I am pleased that we have here today, Mr. Chairman, a very distinguished panel to help us review these issues. I want to thank them for their recognition of this problem and their willingness to share their Y2K views and the strategies. The fact that three congressional committees are participating in this hearing underscores the importance of the aviation industry to our Nation's economy and welfare. This hearing is an excellent example of Congress working proactively with Federal agencies and the industry to overcome a common problem. I look forward to continuing to move collaboratively to expedite the necessary Y2K fixes in the aviation industry.
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I am pleased that our first guest who will testify has been very patient and is a very dear friend. It's good to see Congressman Clinger here. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mrs. Morella. For some reason, perhaps because it is not a very precise science, politics does not attract many people with a scientific or technical background. So we need a lot of help on issues like this. We are very fortunate to have an outstanding scientist, a former college physics professors in Dr. Vern Ehlers. I would like to call on Dr. Ehlers at this time.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just I will be brief. We have kept our witnesses waiting long enough.
When Administrator Garvey appeared before us for the first time, I commented to her that no matter what her job assignments, no matter how important issues were that came to her desk, she should plan on spending one-third of her time on the Y2K problem. We chatted briefly before the panel this morning. She informed me that she in fact remembered the statement, but also had spent at least that much time over the past year. That is rather comforting.
I think there are going to be more problems than we expect in the FAA. There are going to be some surprises. But I do not envision planes falling from the sky or any of the other disaster scenarios that people have suggested. What we may find is that there are some planes that are not flying. Ironically, it may be some of the newer ones which have the greater computerization.
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But my concern at this point is shifting from the FAA to concerns about the airlines operations, the internal computers on the airplanes, the ground issues that Congresswoman Morella mentioned. You may be able to get to your destination on January 1, the year 2000, but your luggage might not make it if the baggage system has not been made Y2K compliant. We tend to forget the mundane in worrying about the safety issues. But the entire air transportation system is incredibly computer-dependent because it developed so much later than other transportation systems and is so totally dependent on computers, that I think we have to be concerned about every nook and cranny of the system and not just the FAA.
Thank you very much.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. We have our friend Tom Davis, who serves on both this committee and the Government Reform and Oversight Committee. Mr. Davis?
Mr. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. I'll just be very brief. We have talked this to death in other hearings, but I think particularly when you start talking about air traffic and the like, it is not just getting your systems, it is all the systems that you are talking to back and forth, not just in this country, but across the world. So you need plenty of time for testing these back and forth. We have got a great expert panel today and I'll have a further statement included in the record. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Davis.
Our first witness is one of the finest men ever to serve in the Congress, the Honorable William F. Clinger, Jr., former chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.
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Congressman Clinger, would you please stand and raise your right hand and be sworn?
Mr. DUNCAN. You may begin your testimony.
TESTIMONY OF THE HON. WILLIAM F. CLINGER, JR., FORMER CHAIRMAN, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT
Mr. CLINGER. Thank you very, very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank the entire panel for inviting me to appear before this august group, this ad hoc committee, and also to commend all of you for the fact that it is an ad hoc committee. I think there is a recognition here that this is a problem that obviously crosses jurisdictional bounds, and there is a need for this to be addressed as a common problem for the Congress. So the fact that you have come together in this ad hoc committee I think is terribly, terribly important.
I know the work that is being done in this area. I know how many hearings we had. I am particularly aware of Congressman Horn because that was the subcommittee under my former chairmanship. I know the many hours that he has dedicated to this problem, and to draw attention to the fact that this is something that we can not afford let go. We have got to move on it and we have got to be ready on the first of January, 2000.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 I must say, Mr. Chairman, I feel very comfortable in this room. This is a room in which I spent my entire congressional career as a member of the Public Works and Transportation Committee, later the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. As Mr. Oberstar knows, we spent hours, days, years dealing with the issues of the aviation industry. So I am delighted to be back with him and with all of you.
I must say that whereas I feel very comfortable here and feel very much among friends, I have some trepidation being on this side of the panel because the last time I appeared as a witness before the then Public Works and Transportation Committee, I was serving as chief counsel for the Economic Development Administration under the Ford Administration. I spent about 45 minutes getting beat up on by Bella Abzug, who challenged the fact that the Ford Administration was going to cut the EDA budget. She was not happy with that. So I came out of my last hearing as a witness very bloodied by Ms. Abzug.
But I am here today as a private citizen and as a board member of a newly created entity called the Aviation Safety Alliance, which was an organization really organized by the aviation industry through its trade association. It is a non-profit group consisting of aviation professionals and unaffiliated but hopefully a knowledgeable individual such as myself.
The alliance is really dedicated to advancing aviation safety and public awareness of safety issues to produce hopefully a stronger and safer aviation system, something I know is paramount with this committee and with your ad hoc committee. Clearly of the many, many critical and crucial issues before the industry and therefore before the American traveling public, none, not one has more far-reaching implications than those associated with the year 2000 problem.
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Recognizing the very critical nature of the Y2K problem, as well as the inter-dependency, and I think this is something that this group makes the point, there is a tremendous inter-dependency and commonality among airlines, Government agencies, airports, suppliers, and affiliated aviation organizations. The aviation industry established a collaborative program for assessing preparedness, completing necessary remediation, and ensuring that the industry will be Y2K compliant and safety operational by the year 2000.
There is no question, and the point has been made here this morning, that much remains to be done. But I am pleased to have this opportunity to appear here to applaud the aviation industry's significant progress and success. There have been many successes thus far in moving toward that goal. That success in no small part as again has been referenced here this morning, is the result of the outstanding leadership that Administrator Garvey has brought to the FAA's Y2K program. Under her direction and with a commitment to open and honest communication, the FAA has accelerated from the rather woeful reports that you were hearing in this committee sometime back, the FAA has accelerated its testing and remediation programs and made truly remarkable progress in moving hundreds of mission-critical systems toward Y2K compliance.
Among these systems, the host computer, which supports control or displays at the Nation's 20 en route centers, underwent exhaustive Y2K testing, and will be fully functional on January 1, 2000. Current estimates suggest that the FAA will indeed, as has been mentioned, reach their goal of 99 percent compliance by September of 1999. Equally admirable I think is the success of the airline industry's Y2K program in working with suppliers, airports, critical Government agencies to identify and when necessary, encourage appropriate solutions.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 In 1997, the airline's trade association, the Air Transport Association, established a dedicated Y2K program. The purpose of this program was to support a comprehensive method to ensure air travelers and shippers that their access to air transportation will be safely maintained through all of the important Y2K deadlines. Indeed, the President of ATA, Carol Hallett, is going to be before this body in a later panel to discuss the industry's approach to this effort.
I understand and know that there have been real problems in many sectors of our industrial complex in this country and that have not made significant progress in this area. But I think that thankfully, however, the safety of our transport system is going to be ensured under the leadership of the dedicated aviation professionals in Government and the private sector. I believe very vehemently that air travel will fly safely through 1999, through the year 2000, and beyond. Indeed, commercial aviation can be held up as an exemplar I think of how Y2K problems should be addressed.
I just want to take this opportunity, Mr. Chairman, I know my time is expiring here, to emphasize the importance that information sharing, cooperation and communication have played in helping the aviation industry approach their Y2K compliance goal. While the individual accomplishments of the airlines, Government agencies, and airports, suppliers, and affiliated organizations are themselves remarkable, the collaborative efforts of these organizations, working cooperatively and not competitively and not in any sense adversarily has enabled them to pool their resources and overcome incredible obstacles in unified pursuit of the goal that once seemed unattainable.
There are challenges ahead, but the progress of the last six months has really demonstrated I think the aviation industry's continued commitment to safety and dedication to excellence. As we chart our course for the next millennium, I feel confident that we will continue to provide the safest and most reliable system of transportation in the world.
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I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your indulgence and allowing me to complete that statement.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you very much, Chairman Clinger. We are going to make sure that you don't leave here today bloodied. Ordinarily we do not on our subcommittee ask questions of Members because we have other chances to visit with each other and also so we can get onto other panels. But I know that Mr. Oberstar told me that for 14 years on three different subcommittees he served as chairman and you served as his ranking member. He told me that he does not think that you ever had a disagreement or a cross word between you.
I would like to turn to Mr. Oberstar at this point for any comments or questions that he might have.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Yes, indeed, we as I said spent at times working so intensively, we spent more time with each other than we did with our families. I do recall that hearing with Bella Abzug. In fact my hearing is just a littleI used to sit next to her on this subcommittee. My hearing is a little deteriorated in my left ear.
Mr. CLINGER. If I may, Mr. Oberstar, when I left the hearing, my deputy left aheadI left ahead of my deputy and he followed me out. I said, ''Well, how did you know where I went?'' He said, ''I just followed the trail of blood.''
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Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, as you know in Congress we worked together to make EDA a better and more responsive program. The committee has again reported out the EDA reauthorization bill that you and I crafted, along with Don Closson back in the 1970's.
Mr. CLINGER. Maybe one day we'll get it through.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Some day it will get enacted.
As we are making progress on all the aviation issues that you and I together worked on, you said two words, collaborative efforts. But it has appeared to me throughout the Y2K issue in aviation, is that it is not so much a problem of hardware or software as it is of management, of bringing together the people to manage the issue. I know IBM called out of retirement two now 70 or 72 year old computer programmers who were the only ones who understood the code because they wrote it, and brought them back into work to scratch their heads and collaborate with each other and with others and to work out solutions.
As FAA has found, bringing together people to work, put aside differences, concerns, pride of authorship, they have been able to address these problems aggressively, and for the future, learn lessons about how to manage our vast dependence on these complex systems. There is none more complex as you know, than aviation. Far more complex than the space program, manned space flight, in comparison requires a handful of people and computers to aviation. So I wish you continued success and endeavor in this arena and to share with us the lessons that you have learned in the process of examining this whole issue.
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Mr. CLINGER. I think you make an interesting point too. In a way, it is fortunate that the issue is being brought to a head as soon as it is because some of the expertise that you have mentioned, the people who set this thing up, is being lost as they are retiring or dying or moving on. So we were able to call back people who have an institutional memory of what went on. Their expertise and aid in helping to address the problem might be lost if this thing were going to happen 10 years from now, for example.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Just one final thought. As you have looked at the problem to where we are and probably taken the opportunity to evaluate software being programmed for the future for the replacement for host, the DSR, for Stars, for other components of the air traffic control system, do you see any repeat of the problems of the past?
Mr. CLINGER. Hopefully we have learned from our mistakes. I mean I think that there's no question that there is an awareness that we need to be absolutely sure that there is going to be a cohesion within these systems, that they are really going to be able to work together and work in a cooperative way. I really think there is an awareness on the part of the people who are addressing this problem that we can't afford towe have got to learn from our mistakes and we cannot afford to have a comparable disaster such as we have with the Y2K problem.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much for your splendid work and for your ever honest and open approach and high integrity on all these issues.
Mr. CLINGER. Thank you.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Chairman Clinger, I know you have been very busy since you left the Congress. We appreciate your taking time out from your schedule to be here with us this morning. Thank you for all you do for us.
Mr. CLINGER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. We'll go ahead now and call up what has been labeled as introduction panel. While they are coming forward, that will be Mr. Bruce Webster and Mr. David Sullivan, we have been joined by Mr. DeFazio. I would like to see if he has any opening statement he wishes to make at this point. He has no opening statement.
So we are pleased to have as our introduction panel two gentlemen who will give us an overview of this entire issue, Mr. Bruce Webster, the chief technology officer of the Object Systems Group.
Mr. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Mr. Chairman? Mr. Chairman?
Mr. DUNCAN. Yes. I was going to introduce you in just a minute, Mr. Davis.
And Mr. David E. Sullivan, president and CEO of the ZONAR Corporation. I think that Mr. Davis wants to introduce formally Mr. Sullivan, and tell us something about him.
Mr. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Thank you very much. In fact, I was asking Chairman Shuster, who just left here, and I saidChairman Shuster had hired Dr. Sullivan in his previous career, had hired Dave Sullivan to work in the private sector and had talked to me previously about some of Dave's accomplishments. I said, ''Well, can I tell him that he is one of the smartest guys you have ever met?'' The chairman said, ''Tell him he is the smartest guy I ever met.'' Then he came back and corrected me. He said, ''Tom, you better tell him he's the smartest computer guy I ever met because I did meet Edward Teller once, who was a Nobel Prize winner.'' But he comes with very, very high recommendations.
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Dave Sullivan has really helped contribute to the year 2000 problem as a programmer in the 1960's. It is appropriate that his company has come up with a very unique solution to the millennium bug. He came to the Washington area in 1964 as a member of RCA's computer software development team. He was one of the founders of C3, Inc., which has since been renamed Telos, where he served as CEO in the early 1970's. He has more than 35 years of computer software development and management experience. This is real hands on experience. He has a degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master of science in technology management from the University of Maryland. He is a member of the American Society of Information Science, the Institute of Electric and Electronic Engineers, and the Association for Computing Machinery.
He and his wife Maggie own ZONAR Corporation, which is a software development company which is based out in Oakton, Virginia. It was founded in 1981. ZONAR has produced successful products for information retrieval, real estate information management, and most recently, the AccommoDate 2000 solution for the Y2K problem. He came to me early. I know he has recognized the seriousness of the Y2K problem and the potential for his approach to buy time until more permanent fixes can be applied properly. When you are running up against the deadline and you don't know what to do, I think he has some great ideas in terms of what you can do to get you over the hump until you can get a permanent fixed solution, no matter how complex the system.
I would also add that Dave has focused on the year 2000 problem since 1996, when very few of us were aware of it. As a private pilot with instrument and multi-engine ratings, he is particularly concerned with the potential risks to aviation safety. It has often been said that Dave Sullivan is ahead of his time, but I am very confident that he can contribute to the understanding of the options available to us before our time runs out.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Davis.
That is quite a billing, Mr. Sullivan. We're pleased to have you with us.
I mentioned that Mr. Webster is the chief technology officer for the Object Systems Group. I failed to mention that he is the co-chair of the Washington D.C. Year 2000 Group.
We are pleased to have both of you with us. Mr. Webster, we'll begin with you, please.
I'm sorry. Would both of you please stand and raise your right hands and be sworn?
Mr. DUNCAN. You may proceed.
TESTIMONY OF BRUCE F. WEBSTER, CHIEF TECHNICAL OFFICER, OBJECT SYSTEMS GROUP, AND CO-CHAIR, WASHINGTON D.C. YEAR 2000 GROUP; DAVID E. SULLIVAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, ZONAR CORPORATION
Mr. WEBSTER. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Horn, Mrs. Morella, Ranking Member Oberstar, other distinguished members of the committee, it is honor to appear before you today representing not just myself, but the 1,500 members of the Washington, D.C. Year 2000 Group.
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There are many countries in the world today where gasoline costs $2 to $5 a gallon, where great factories run half-shifts, and unemployment has crept into double digits, where intermittent shortages of various consumer goods cause inflation, long lines, and even government-imposed rationing, where the power system suffers rolling brownouts, and the water in some cities is not safe to drink without treatment, where martial law is imposed from time to time in certain areas to help calm domestic unrest. Now imagine that this is the United States 16 months from now.
The year 2000 crisis is distinct from any challenge that humanity has faced to date. We have spent the past 50 years constructing a complex planet-wide network, technical, informational, economic, logistical, social, and even political, that none of us can completely comprehend or control. It has served us well, especially here in the United States where its benefits have given us a strong economy. But we have planted and left unchecked in it the seeds of disruption. These flaws may cause a million unpredictable overlapping errors big and small, disturbing the flow of information and affecting that which it creates and moves, energy, water, food, freight, raw and processed materials, people, money, and more information.
Let us be clear, the Y2K problem will not bring destruction and death as a hurricane or a war. Let me state parenthetically I know of no credible Y2K analyst who has ever suggested that planes would fall out of the sky either. Nor will it in my opinion bring our civilization to a halt, ushering in a post-apocalyptic world like that found in science fiction or some survivalist literature. But that does not mean it won't be painful or serious.
It will be more than a bump in the road ahead or a brief hiccup in a long economic boom. We must be careful not to reject all serious consequences because we reject the most severe and improbable. Wishful disbelief and blind optimism won't shield us from the very real and likely consequences of Y2K. Indeed, it could make them worse.
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The Cutter Consortium was asked by the International Finance Corporation earlier this year to assess a specific list of global economic sectors for potential impact by Y2K. They determined the following to be vulnerable: Financial services, utility and power industries, telecommunications, manufacturing, industrial and consumer services, social services, including healthcare and education, food and agribusiness, chemicals and petrochemicals, and hotels and tourism. The consortium also singled out transportation as being vulnerable, even though they had not been asked specifically to evaluate it.
In addition, they identified several smaller sectors tied to those above and so also at risk, including mining, cement and construction, textile, timber, pulp, paper, motor vehicles and parts, oil refining, fertilizers and agricultural chemicals. Such sectors face Y2K disruptions in multiple ways and on different levels. First are Y2K problems in corporate information systems that support accounting, administration, operations, business processes, workflow and external communications. Next are potential Y2K problems in the physical facilities, buildings, equipment, plants, vehicles, including planes and ships, sensors and so on.
Legal issues impact not just sharing of information, but actual operations. Some firms and organizations may scale back or shut down operations for a short period around the Y2K crossover to reduce liability. Beyond that are Y2K problems in the infrastructure upon which these firms depend, telecom, utilities, external facilities and services, not to mention timely delivery of raw materials, processed goods, equipment and supplies. Finally, even if a given firm or sector is itself in good shape, it may still be impacted by Y2K problems among suppliers, partners, customers, and Government agencies.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 When you consider the range of sectors vulnerable to Y2K, the various ways and levels in which they can be affected, and the complex global and interrelated nature of many of these sectors, you begin to grasp why there are such concerns about the year 2000 problem. While it is good to remember that duration of most such disruptions will be measured in days or possibly weeks, we need also to remember that it only took a few weeks of work stoppage at one supplier of one key part to cause General Motors to shut down its entire North American manufacturing system, lay off for a while 200,000 workers, lose $1 to $2 billion, and all by itself impact the U.S. economy.
With Y2K, we may face dozens of simultaneous scenarios like that all interacting and intensifying one another. Add in possible disruptions of transportation, infrastructure and social services, and place it all on top of the weakened global economy. We may face profound economic and social consequences. Because of that, the year 2000 problem must be for the next 16 months the most pressing issue for Congress and the administration.
I would be happy to answer any questions you or the committee might have.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Webster.
Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the committee, thank you for giving me the opportunity to address you today. At the outset, I must admit I am one of the programmers who contributed to this year 2000 problem back in the 1960's. But I am also the inventor of a solution which offers hope for the future.
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I wrote my first computer program in 1962 as a student at MIT. Because memory was limited and expensive, I used only two digits to express the year. The computer industry has changed enormously in the 36 years since then. Computer hardware has become cheaper and more powerful, and the software programs that make it work have grown larger and more complex. As a result, computer programs are now amongst the most complicated things ever built by man.
Computer programs are never perfect, but they are at their worst when they are new. It was a brand new state of the art baggage handling program, for example, that shut down the Denver Airport in 1995, and the new Hong Kong Airport more recently. As problems are discovered, almost always by experiencing failures, they are corrected. Since software does not wear out, programs literally improve with age.
As a world leader in information technology, the United States has the largest collection of old, reliable, experienced and well-tested programs. Their only problem is handling years after 1999. We are now working to fix the year's inventory of computer programs before they begin to fail because of Y2K. Hundreds of billions of lines of old reliable code will be changed into new improved and untested code.
Industry experience shows that hundreds of millions of errors will be made in this process. Not all of these errors will be repaired before these programs must be put in service. There is neither the time nor the technology to eliminate these errors through testing. The year 2000 problem is unique. The deadline can not be slipped, and we have no fallback. When Denver and Hong Kong had problems with their new airport baggage handling system, they were able to use the old airports until they straightened them out. In the year 2000, the old programs won't be available when the new programs have problems. We really need a year 2000 solution that will let us keep running those old reliable experienced and well-tested programs for a little longer. Fortunately such a solution is available by looking at the problem in a different way.
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The programs aren't broken. The problem is with the data. Rather than changing programs to handle future years, we can change the years instead. By changing computer years to ones they were designed to handle, like the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's, we can postpone year 2000 until our computers are ready to handle it. This approach may be unconventional and temporary, but it works. It even works when the program source code is missing or is obsolete. We have shown that we can use well-tested programs without modification merely by changing the year. By using the older calendar, we no longer have to worry about Y2K.
We used a method just like this during the gasoline shortage of 1973. Prices rose over a dollar, but gas pumps couldn't go above 99 cents per gallon. Did we stop selling gas until we could rebuild millions of gas pumps to handle the higher price? No. Instead we set the price per gallon to half the real price. We filled our tanks normally, then paid double the amount on the pump. By changing the data, the price per gallon, we got through the crisis and were able to replace the pumps as new ones became available.
Organizations around the world have already used this time shift approach to protect computers against the Y2K problem. The Department of Treasury used our AccomoDate 2000 product to protect an application against Y2K in record time and without requiring programming changes in its pilot test last fall. The time shift solution is not complicated or expensive. Typical Y2K projects using this approach are completed in a fraction of the time and cost of changing the programs.
So why isn't everyone using it? Because it's not the conventional way of fixing computer programs. If this were any other situation, we could afford to wait and let society get used to this idea. But these are not ordinary times. Many of my colleagues are concerned that we can not achieve reliable solutions to this problem in the remaining time. We fear that optimism that characterizes new software projects will mask the ongoing erosion of our complex information systems infrastructure. We are worried that even a very small number of failures when they occur at the same time may trigger nationwide or worldwide chain reactions. A policy that merely seeks to do the best with what we have is not adequate. We must establish a minimum level of reliable systems operation as our goal. This must include all of the systems, Government and non-government, foreign and domestic, upon which we depend. We must then use our maximum energies and ingenuity to achieve it.
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The time to apply pragmatic solutions to assure continued operation of our computer software infrastructure is long overdue for the year 2000 problem. I thank you again for giving me this opportunity, and will be happy to answer any questions the committee may have.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Sullivan. I am going to go first to Congresswoman Morella for questions that she might have.
Mrs. MORELLA. Mr. Sullivan, I am fascinated by your background and by the program that you are offering. I just wonder if Grace Hopper, where she is, is probably looking down saying either ''Right on'' or ''We have got to try again.''
I would like to ask Mr. Webster what he thinks of Mr. Sullivan's approach.
Mr. WEBSTER. Based on a five minute discussion, I don't have a basis to analyze it. On the other hand, there have been a number of solutions, such as this proposed for Y2K. They are necessary but not sufficient. That is, they can be used in specific circumstances, usually as a temporary stopgap measure. They do nothing to address the embedded systems problem, and there are often internal calculations or issues that such efforts likewise do not address.
Mrs. MORELLA. That is something I would like to ask you, Mr. Sullivan, what about the embedded chips problem? One you just don't address?
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Mr. SULLIVAN. I think what we found is that this particular approach does the least damage. I think our philosophy has been as older programmers, and I think perhaps Grace Hopper and other programmers of my era, Ed Jordan, are the ones that are concerned because I think we understand the realities of some of that code and what it really looks like inside.
So that if can first do no harm, that is, if we can find a way to have these programs continue to operate without change, from our perspective it makes sense to do that to encapsulate them and let them continue to run.
Perhaps 35 to 80 percent of program modules are amenable to this approach, so that while it doesn't handle 100 percent of the cases, it can reduce the scope of the effort required, at least in the next 18 months, to a fraction of what it is currently.
This can also work in some cases for embedded systems. I think the FAA has already announced that it's been rescued in its old air traffic control computers because essentially the date subtracts 75 from the year. That is, the year inside those computers is zero for 75 and one for 76 and so on. So in fact, that technique has already been used in the past.
So I would suggest only that this be used where it can be and that the benefits of being able to protect systems without any other activity and without doing it harm, without destabilizing them, reduce the scope of the effort for the remaining programs.
Mrs. MORELLA. Does that system require a testing period too?
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Mr. SULLIVAN. Absolutely. In fact, I think that the key difference is that if you can protect the system, if you start out saying that the system is a black box that performs a certain function, if we are able to continue to provide that function based on, for example, 1972 instead of 2000, and then we can test that as we would had we tested a remediated system and if it passes a test, then we have achieved our objective, which is, we protected it and we can continue to operate.
So our approach basically is to do as little as is necessary to create a system we believe will work, and then test it as thoroughly as we can. The testing that we would subject our systems to is the same as would be subjected, tested for other systems that have been remediated. The difference is that we haven't done anything to insert errors in the process. The current statistics seem to be about 1,500 errors per million lines of code that go through a Y2K project are generated. Of course that creates millions of errors that have to then be debugged back out again.
Mrs. MORELLA. Do we tend to, with your system, do we tend to rely too much on it and take the time away from the permanent solution? Is that a concern?
Mr. SULLIVAN. We are not suggesting that in fact anyone abandon anything that they are doing currently. This approach can be done in parallel and we suggest in fact that it ought to be done as quickly as possible as a contingency approach.
In many cases, there are replacement systems already in the wings. Those are the ones that will be compliant and will provide the ongoing functionality. What we are talking about here is being able to protect the old systems without modification, test them to assure that if they are needed, they can continue to operate beyond the year 2000.
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Mrs. MORELLA. When we have subsequent panels I am going to kind of ask them or hope that within their statements they might also comment on your plan.
Just one final question to both of you. There are legislative proposals in Congress which would allow companies to exchange information on the Y2K efforts without liability concerns. I just wondered, do you support these bills?
Mr. WEBSTER. Generally speaking, yes. The fundamental problem I see with them is that given the nature, litigations nature of our business climate, a company will not share information unless it is sure that it is A, safe, and B, beneficial. The legislation seeks to address the safety issue assuming that the law is not somehow overturned or loopholes found. But it does not directly address the beneficial issue. The natural tendency of business, absent an obvious benefit, is often to do nothing, particularly given what they have to focus on to get accomplished.
Mrs. MORELLA. Mr. Sullivan, would you like to comment?
Mr. SULLIVAN. I would agree thatI think the problem is more that we don't have an adequate base of information in some of these cases about old programs, about how they operate. You see a reluctance among many vendors to certify their products as Y2K compliant, merely because they don't know whether or not they are compliant and they have no economic reason to take the heat or the liability for claiming compliance if there is not a new market or they can't sell an upgrade.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 So whether it has a practical effect, it's hard to tell, but I think it is certainly a step in the right direction.
Mrs. MORELLA. I know my time has expired, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Sullivan, I am not particularly literate in this area, but I have asked a number of people intimately involved with computers about your solution over the last year. I mean I just said why couldn't we just set the date back. Like I recently saw a cartoon that showed they finally solved the Y2K problem. It was welcome to 1900. They had people in wagons and that.
But how would thisand I can understand where with an agency like the FAA or with NOAA or people where the data is sort of incidental to the critical operations. I mean air traffic safety happens every day. It doesn't really matter what date it is. I can understand where this would work there, but how could this work in agencies that have to do compound interest calculations, Treasury, or how can it work in Social Security, where your benefits are dependent upon your year of birth. You would have to then build in another correction for computing the year of birth, and say add 28 years to this person's age or something like that. Would you not? I mean it could become fairly complicated in agencies like that.
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Mr. SULLIVAN. Yes. The key to this working of course is that all the dates that are computed upon then are changed in the same manner.
We have a benefit in the calendar and the happenstance that year 2000 is a leap year, unlike 1900 or 2100, that allows us to look at the calendar and determine that in fact 1970 is identical in the full calendar to 1998. 1971 is identical to 1999, and 1972 is identical to 2000. So if the programs worked correctly for 1972, the first day of the week, the second Monday, first Tuesday, and so on, then those computations will be correct for 2000. That is not the case for 1900. If they try to compute correctly for 1900, that is the wrong computation for 2000.
So generally people who have applied this technique have started with the idea that they would use a 28 year shift or a multiple of 28 to provide a range of years so they can compute from 1928 to 2027 using 00 to 99 to represent those years, and that the computations by the program would be identical.
Now starting with this basic point, generally again we have 75 to 80 percent of the programs that go ahead and compute based on 1972 instead of what the real year is for 2000, and perform the correct computations. The kind of software we provide and other people have also provided, there are other products that do this, automatically transform the years from 1998 to 1970 as data flows into the programs, and automatically transfers the results back from 1998 back to 00. So yes, that software has to be put in place, but this is additive software, relatively simple, and does not destabilize these old programs that may have missing source code, written in the machine code, as Mr. Shuster indicated some 20 or 30 years ago.
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So the key is that if we can continue to use these programs without modification, that limits what we have to retest, that limits the failures we may have to worry about after the fact. Again, I am suggesting this is a very pragmatic approach. It doesn't involve no work. It certainly involves work, but typically about a tenth of the work for major remediation project. It is inherently a much safer, by not again, destabilizing these programs.
I would suggest again, after our test in Treasury, that the programmers who saw that then came forward and said, well, let's try it on this system. This one is a bag of worms. I know this one is terrible. The last time I looked at it, and so on. That the programmers often know how bad some of these systems truly are. So when they are suggesting that in fact this would be an excellent approach to those programs, I think it makes some sense to have management take a look at it.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Okay. So basically then we over layer a new program that provides the correction for birthdate and all those other sorts of computations that Social Security would have to make, for instance?
Mr. SULLIVAN. In the case of dates, there's a second problem that's often confused with the Y2K problem. That is because people are living longer, because our information is spanning a longer range, we have a problem just being able to store more than 100 years worth of information. So it's not really a Y2K problem. If someone is born in 1897, that is already a problem now because it's more than 100 years. So that is a two digit year problem.
The Y2K problem is if it were not for this specific year of 99 and 00, we could continue to operate. So those are really separate problems. The Social Security problem and the aging of our information base and our citizenry is something that has to be solved some other way.
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Mr. DEFAZIO. I realize that, but I meant just for routine, your routine retirees who are not yet of the triple digit age, but if we go back to 1972, then if the system is saying it's 1972 then that person doesn't become eligible for benefits until 1995. Then you have to build in a correction for that.
Mr. SULLIVAN. Yes. The data would all be shifted. That is, we would essentially re-encode the dates. Instead of 00 meaning 1900, 00 would now mean 1928. So we would have to do that one time in order to have consistent dates for the programs. But once having done that, then they can continue to operate without other modifications.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Okay. All right. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. DeFazio.
Mr. HORN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Gentlemen, I have both been impressed by your testimony. Mr. Sullivan, I note that you did work for the Treasury in the Financial Management Service in your testimony. One of the problems that have concerned us is the fact that the Social Security Administration is of course ahead of everybody else. They started in 1989. They are about 93 percent done. They issue checks every month, about 43 million of them, based on their tapes, which are correct. But they don't cut the check. The agency for which you work, the Financial Management Service cuts the check.
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Now was there any testing of Social Security tapes with your system and the checks that Financial Management Service would cut as a result? And how did that work?
Mr. SULLIVAN. The specific system that we worked on was called Check Issue Audit, which essentially is a reconciliation program for all of the Department of Treasury, all of the U.S. accounts. It attempts to balance those accounts on a monthly basis going back about 12 years.
Because that was a system that they could actually identify and put their arms around, that was the one that was used for this particular pilot. So this did not actually handle issuing of checks, but rather did the balancing of the accounts subsequently.
Mr. HORN. In other words, these accounts were internal to the Department of the Treasury?
Mr. SULLIVAN. That is correct.
Mr. HORN. They weren't any of their customers that they have on the outside?
Mr. SULLIVAN. That's correct.
Mr. HORN. We graded them down because they couldn't handle the Social Security checks. Do you know any progress that's being made down there? They keep assuring me they will guarantee those checks will be written, but I haven't seen the evidence yet.
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Mr. SULLIVAN. No. We have still been relegated to the contingency basically. We still have too much time is the short answer. Generally what we see are people saying well, this doesn't sound like a good way of doing things. We would much prefer to change the programs if we can. So let's take a few more months and see if can make it. If we can make it in time, then we won't have to use this.
My suggestion again in the testimony was that I think we are at a point where we really need to take the most pragmatic approach. If we can nail down these things and know that they will function after January 1, 2000, I think we should do it in the most expeditious manner possible. But they are still waiting to see if they can make it the hard way.
Mr. HORN. Is your system used by other Government departments at this point?
Mr. SULLIVAN. It is not currently used by other Government departments. We have got proposals and tests going on in a number of agencies, but is not currently in use.
This approach generally has been used by insurance companies, companies in France and England. We looked at Raytheon in their New England facility has used this approach exclusively to do their remediation. So it has been used a number of places, but not typically within the Government.
Mr. HORN. Has the General Services Administration or Mr. Koskinen's conversion council ever called on you to see what you can do?
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Mr. SULLIVAN. They have not. It has been very difficult getting past the paradigm shift that you don't have to change programs. Just because you can doesn't necessarily make it the best thing to do. So there are a few of us that are still trying to convey this message, but it has not been adopted.
Most of the tools that are now involved in Y2K are tools that were left over from the old days that do program remediation. So it was a natural thing to just rename the tool to 2000 and then sell it as a Y2K tool. But there are very few that were actually developed specifically for this problem. They have a tough way to make it in the marketplace right now.
Mr. HORN. I yield to my colleague here. Do you have a question?
Mrs. MORELLA. I didn't realize I would have another chance to ask. But I was discussing this with staff. I understand that your proposal, Mr. Sullivan, the solution has buffers so that when someone enters data into the computer, the correct date is entered. The buffer changes the date to what year?
Mr. SULLIVAN. To a year typically 28 years earlier than that year. So if they enter 1998, it would change it to 1970.
Mrs. MORELLA. So the computer thinks it is operating in the 1970's?
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Mr. SULLIVAN. The data it is operating upon looks like it is data from the 1970's, yes.
Mrs. MORELLA. And any data the computer outputs goes through another buffer to correct the date. Is that right?
Mr. SULLIVAN. Correct.
Mrs. MORELLA. Is this making it kind of a cumbersome situation?
Mr. SULLIVAN. Well, it certainly is adding a level of software or a level of program that didn't exist before. But we are looking at this as a firewall. Among the things that the same layer of software can do is protect those same applications from other types of bad data.
So what we are suggesting is by putting a firewall around these old applications, we can provide them clean and protected data. We protect them from themselves by shifting the date and time, but we can protect them from the outside world by actually confirming that the inputs they get are correct. So this is really a way of protecting these old programs. This approach has been taken as we moved into object technology. I think Mr. Webster can talk about creating objects out of these old Legacy systems. That has been going on for some time. It is the same basic approach.
Mrs. MORELLA. Has ITAA given any approval to the approach?
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Mr. SULLIVAN. They have not. They primarily are certifying processes and tools. Again, this is outside the scope of the kinds of things that they have up to this point been able to certify.
Mrs. MORELLA. Have you seen any problem with that, the date September 9, 1999?
Mr. SULLIVAN. I know there is a possibility that there is a problem with that date. I think it is more likely, there is a Julian date that is used in the same manner which is 99999. That is the day portion of the Julian date 999, means an infinite expiration date. I think some of this 9999 is a little unlikely. On the other hand, one never knows what a programmer might do. That is the whole point of our approach, is when in doubt if we can create a safe environment and then test it to confirm that it in fact is safe, then that is perhaps better than trying to figure out what some arcane programmer did in his youth.
Mrs. MORELLA. I don't know how anyone could feel that this is not a very kind of exciting provocative issue. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Horn.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you. Before I yield to Mr. Kucinich, Mr. Webster, my curiosity is getting the better of me. What do you think about Mr. Sullivan's proposed solution? Both of you have referred to it as temporary, but do you think this problem can be solved that simply?
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Mr. WEBSTER. It's notagain, Mr. Sullivan has done well to characterize this as a contingency plan for specific software that is sufficiently independent that this can be used. This approach would break any software that, for example, makes reference to hard coded dates within it, such as if you had a code built in that says okay, if this is after 1965, then do this, if it's before 1965 then do that. Any software that has that kind of code in it, trust me there's plenty like that out there, would break.
Beyond that, it is in essence another form, certain external form of what's called windowing. You are simply shifting 100 year window by a certain amount. The question is if you have programs that have any dates that are going prior to 1928, again, you would have a problem. It could not handle dates such as that. It doesn't address operating systems. It doesn't address a lot of the utilities. It doesn't address again, as I said, embedded systems.
It is a solution I have certainly seen discussed out there before. The clue or the key is to use it as contingency planning, to use it where it can be used, how it can be used, but it ultimately solves no problems. It gets us by, which again, as Mr. Sullivan says, may be what we have to do.
Mr. DUNCAN. What do you say, Mr. Sullivan, to what Mr. Webster just said?
Mr. SULLIVAN. I agree with him entirely, that there are specific things that could be done in programs that make them not amenable to this approach. My only suggestion is that if in fact it works with very little effort and very little risk in 50 percent, 60 percent, 75 percent of the programs, I suggest it's time to start applying it to those percentages. I think it would be reasonable to ask someone why they haven't applied this or haven't looked at applying it.
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I think everyone has a perception that they looked at this a year ago or two years ago, they had discussions about it. I have seen on the Y2K Internet discussion groups someone saying my boss just asked me about this technique. Now why won't it work again? People are asking why it won't work. I think they should really ask if it will work and if it works and it can be effective and save costs and time and risk, why aren't we using it.
Mr. DUNCAN. I have some other questions, but I am going to go to Mr. Kucinich.
Mr. KUCINICH. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. First of all, I want to welcome the witnesses and thank you for your testimony. I think that all of us appreciate people who come up with ideas here to try to help us solve this problem. There are many different ways of looking at it. You know there's an old saying about necessity being the mother of invention. We are reaching I believe a point of synergy, where some of the best minds have come together to try to find some solutions that are workable.
Mr. Sullivan, I would be particularly interested in what are the implications for those people who will have solved for their industries the Y2K problem and when we get to the year 2000 how would they exchange data with somebody whose computers are still in the year 1972.
Mr. SULLIVAN. Well, in general the interfaces for these systems are all remaining as they were in the past. The interfaces typically are still in real dates, if you will. But I would suggest to you if you look at the internal formats for dates, including dates that are exchanged in transaction tapes and so on, often it's hard to tell what those dates are. I mean once they are converted back by a program that displays it as a 98, then you understand that it's 98. But internally, data is represented however the program designers and system designers choose to represent it. The representation for a date in Oracle is not the same as a date in DB2, even for the same date.
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So I suggest that in general, the interfaces are established. There's bilateral or multilateral agreement on the formats and the content. And then based on that, that's how we proceed.
Mr. KUCINICH. In a perfect world, it's nice to imagine symmetry in design in a perfect world. So thank you.
Now, Mr. Webster, in your written statement you make a reference to martial law. Now is that a colloquial reference or is that a premonitory reference?
Mr. WEBSTER. It's actually a situation I can see. Again, I could go through that opening paragraph and
Mr. KUCINICH. I know. What do you think?
Mr. WEBSTER. What do I think? I think it is possible that we could well have a situation in one or two cities where we have riots, much as we have had in years past due to either breakdowns in services, breakdown in utilities, failure of social services and so on, and that the National Guard needs to be called in. It's not something I see nationwide. It is something I see on an isolated basis, much as I have indicated here.
Mr. KUCINICH. But if we have Mr. Sullivan's program, we won't have riots. Right?
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Mr. WEBSTER. Well, the problem, you know you hear talk about how Y2K isn't a technical problem, it's a management problem, which it is, a big management problem. Beyond that, it is a human problem. The fundamental challenge we have in information technology is that it involves a lot of decisions made often at cross purposes. As Ranking Member Oberstar quoted me from the National Journal, saying that we produce a lot of crummy software and there's a lot of road blocks to getting stuff done on time.
There are failures that will occur regardless of Mr. Sullivan's solution, because either people won't apply it, it won't be appropriate, or there won't be time remaining.
Mr. KUCINICH. Okay. Now are you working with your group, do you have people in the aviation industry working with your group?
Mr. WEBSTER. We do have people who attend, both from the Air Transport Association, from American Airlines and some of the others.
Mr. KUCINICH. Can you describe how they are developing their contingency plans?
Mr. WEBSTER. No, I can't. I haven't talked with them. The group we have, the WDC Y2K group meets monthly to bring people. We usually have 300 or so people attend to have presentations on various subjects. I do know from one talk I have had with someone representing a major airline that they are very confident on how they are doing, but said that other airlines are calling upon them now to help because the other ones, some of these other ones are not as far along. That is the extent to my knowledge and it's hearsay.
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Mr. KUCINICH. So can you describe some of the impacts that the Y2K problem in aviation will have on members of the D.C. Y2K group?
Mr. WEBSTER. I'm sorry. I'm not sure I fully understand the question.
Mr. KUCINICH. Can you describe some of the impacts that Y2K will have on aviation?
Mr. WEBSTER. On aviation? If you go back to the second page to talk about the disruption. The first corporate information systems you have issues of simply running the corporation, of ticketing, of scheduling and so on. The airplanes I think are, Boeing, Airbus and so on are very good at checking out their airplanes.
The legal issue may be a key issue, as has been referenced I believe by Mrs. Morella, that if there is any question about safety, if there is any question, well about safety, I think you will see a voluntary and indeed mandated restriction on the amount of flying because they don't want the liability in case things happen.
Mr. KUCINICH. I want to thank the gentleman. I want to thank the Chair as well and just make this observation if I may.
I think it is important for the witnesses to bring us information as it relates to the aviation industry. That's I know why we are here. I would also say that in all of these forums that we have had, which Mr. Horn as the chairman of my subcommittee has been kind enough to arrange and I know Mrs. Morella and others have worked to do this. We have always tried to proceed in a way that has been dedicated and responsible. I would just caution all witnesses about making statements that would predict things like riots because while we certainly have to prepare contingency plans for any contingency, I don't think we want to create a climate of fear in this country about what might happen. It is our job in working with the private sector, because this is certainly one area where the public sector and the private sector have to work together, to make sure that we address this as best as we can. Certainly we are all concerned about areas such as aviation, utilities and such, but we want to be careful about how far we go with making predictions about dire consequences, because the public is very concerned and I want to make sure that we provide assurances that every effort is being made to try to address the concerns which the public has.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Thank you very much, Mr. Kucinich.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. A couple questions for Mr. Sullivan. I am just trying to understand some of the details of your approach and your product.
You are saying it is basically a contingency approach that organizations, institutions should have this program available if they flip the switch on the year 2000, I'm sorry, don't flip the switch, the time changes and the program doesn't work, they put your package into operation and the program works until they identify the problem. Is that a correct understanding? You are not advocating this as a permanent solution.
Mr. SULLIVAN. No. I am not advocating it as a permanent solution. In general, any programs that have year 2000 problems in them, there was some expectation somewhere that they would have been replaced by now. I am just really indicating that in many cases these same systems will be in fact replaced in the normal course of business, as the gas pumps were replaced with ones that could read credit cards and so on. So that if we can buy time, it may only be a few months, a few years, and keep those old reliable programs running for a little longer, I think we can deal with this issue in the normal course of our business.
So I am not suggesting this be a permanent approach, but rather where it works, because it is benign, because it does no harm, because it doesn't destabilize our old programs often which are unknown and undocumented, then it ought to be applied to be able to continue to run those modules that it works for for a little longer.
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Mr. EHLERS. Okay. But the code will have to be rewritten anyway, and the sooner the better.
Mr. SULLIVAN. Well, not necessarily. In some cases, and again, we know of two systems in Treasury that the replacement system has already been in the works for some time. It just is overdue. And that there is no intent to actually remediate or retain these programs that are being modified any longer than when the new system is available.
Mr. EHLERS. All right. I also find many organizations using this as a marvelous excuse to get new systems, which is perhaps not all bad.
One just detail. In the dim recesses of my mind, I remember that every 400 years we have to add a leap day to our calendar. I believe this is the century we do it. I presume it's January 1 or something. I don't know what we would call it. Yes, January 1 of 2001, which is the start of the new century. Is that correct? Does this change your program?
Mr. SULLIVAN. Well, no. What is really true about the leap year, the calendar, is that
Mr. EHLERS. Leap day, not leap year.
Mr. SULLIVAN. Well, it's a leap day, but it's a leap day in a leap year. The rule for centuries is that centuries are not normally leap years. 1900 was not a leap year, even though it's divisible by four, 1900 was not, 1800 was not, 1700 was not, nor will 2100 be. But once in a lifetime opportunity, 2000 is in fact a leap year, which makes it the same as 1972. So in fact, the technique I described won't work again in 2100. We'll to do something else before then.
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Mr. EHLERS. No. I am not talking about years divisible by four. I am saying every 400 years there is an extra leap day because we don't have exactly 365.25 days per year average, so we have this extra adjustment.
Mr. SULLIVAN. Well, sir, the adjustment is in the other direction. The century is normally not a leap year.
Mr. EHLERS. Oh I see.
Mr. SULLIVAN. Even though divisible by four. But 2000 is our once in a 400 year opportunity where we do have a February 29 in 2000. We did not have February 29 in 1900.
Mr. EHLERS. Okay. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Thank you very much. I don't want to make predictions on what will happen if things don't work, but I know this. If people don't get their paychecks, if planes aren't taking off, if they take off if they can't land, if the electricity doesn't work or there's sporadic blackouts, if the ATMs don't operate properly, if telephones don't work, if the traffic signals go out at rush hour, I don't want to predict what people will do, but I know if there are early primaries, I wouldn't want to be on the ballot as an incumbent at that time.
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These are huge issues. No one knows exactly what is going to happen. We will be doing some tests, but there is nothing like the real test, which is what happens of course on New Years Day, and particularly the transportation system. Unlike some of the other areas, transportation can be life or death. That is why I think that the chairman is holding this hearing and we are trying to get some of your comments and predictions. I wouldn't want to hazard a guess, but I don't think it will be very pleasant for anybody involved in the process. All we can do at the congressional level is really hold hearings and try to hold the Executive Branch accountable to create a dialogue between State and local governments and the private sector and make sure that the public is aware of this so that when they buy products, they will find their Y2K compliance, the microchips and the like.
So let me ask you. Mrs. Morella asked you about the microchip situation. But really there's not much you can do with a defective microchip that's not Y2K compliant except replace that product or chip, is there?
Mr. SULLIVAN. Again, my feeling is that this idea of lying to the chip about the time or the date, if it works, it may be effective in some of these other types of products as well, again as a holding action. That in many cases they don't care too much about the calendar and it may be just setting them back by a year or two years.
Let's take your VCR. Obviously instead of having to rush right out and buy a new VCR, which is not a life and death issue, if it doesn't work for the year 2000, you could go ahead and set it to an earlier year and get by and it would do its programming and all the things it would need to do by the day of the week perfectly fine, even though it says it's the wrong year.
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So again, I am suggesting when we get to the point of pragmatism, this approach may in fact work for some of these embedded systems as well. We need to clearly document these. We need to schedule them for ultimate replacement. But if it's as a holding action, if it works and works effectively and can be tested, I again suggest it is time for us to look at that as a viable way of dealing with these things in the short term.
Mr. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Would you both agree that the interdependence of an airline system and our partners and suppliers, both foreign and domestic, that make the aviation industry so complex, a real complex network and web, make the Y2K issue not only difficult to address, but make it likely that certain Y2K problems just aren't going to be fixed before the year 2000? And that in point of fact, when this issue comes, we are going to be dealing with problems maybe no one had thought of and dealing with them kind of case by case and ad hoc.
Mr. WEBSTER. Given my experience in software engineering, I would have to say yes. The truth about information technology, it's not only more complex than we understand, it's more complex than we can understand. We tend only to see where these complex interconnections are as problems flush them out. A case in point. When the Galaxy 4 satellite decided to go drifting off earlier this year, most people weren't surprised that they lost pager service of it, but a lot of people were surprised that they couldn't buy gasoline at certain gas stations that were using it. I'm sure NPR was surprised it suddenly lost its feed to a lot of its affiliates. Hospitals, in particular, were put into trouble because suddenly they were dealing with doctors and nurses who couldn't be reached via pagers.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 So you have sort of in order consequences that ripples through. There are things that become exposed only as the failures occur. Given the sheer volume of information technology on all the various levels that have been touched upon today, it is doubtful that we could literally track down and find all the Y2K bugs and fix them. Our best bet, I mean my personal opinion is January 1, 2000, will be a bit anti-climatic because I think we'll be all hunkered down. It won't be business as usual. We'll all sort of be holding our breath and taking precautions and deal with it. But we will not have things fixed in time, no.
Mr. SULLIVAN. I agree. There's no way that we will not have problems. Software is not an exact science. I have been doing it for 35 years. I don't know anyone who has been doing it anywhere close to that amount of time that thinks it's an exact science. So when people say no sweat, we've taken care of it, it's all finished, we'll be done by tomorrow, September 1 or October 1, it is very easy in this business to say we're done with remediation by declaring ourselves done. Then we could be done with uni-test just by saying well, whatever we don't find in uni-test, we'll pick up in systems test. Then we could take a product like Windows and put it on the market with 5000 known bugs saying well, we'll get around to those later with fixes and remediations later.
So that you know, it's easy to push these problems downstream, put things into production. I suggest in aviation that is very dangerous. I am concerned that we have certification for pilots, certification for mechanics, but no certification for the programmers that are currently working on these systems.
Mr. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Thank you. I think my time is up. Thank you.
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Mr. DUNCAN. I want to apologize to Ms. Norton. I should have gone to her first going from party to party. I overlooked you, Ms. Norton, and I very seldom do that, and I apologize.
Ms. NORTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you so much. That's perfectly understandable.
I arrived late for which I apologize. Perhaps the matter I raise was early addressed. I don't so much fear riots as I do fear other events, perhaps more serious. As I see this problem, the metaphor of a cobweb occurs to me. I am interested in matters not under our control. Suppose that the Federal Government for once did everything right, did all the necessary testing, and in fact, Mr. Sullivan got where you said we can't possibly get, done, finished, let's go onto the next challenge. Suppose someone else's system fails. Someone else is either negligent or didn't get it right or didn't start in time or some other reason, the system just isn't up to where our perfect system is. Is there anyway to guard against such failures, the failures of others?
May I also ask what is the worst case scenario that is reasonable to expect, not what is the worst case scenario. I think we understand that the end of the world may be the worst case scenario. But all things considered from what you now know about what is happening in the universe at large, considering that we are linked into people across the face of the earth, I ask also what is the worst you think could happen. But I ask first, is there any way to guard against the failures of others to ensure ourselves in some way against those failures?
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Mr. SULLIVAN. I think that it probably is necessary for anyone who has their own problems under control or the perception of that, that they then look at this exact issue of the interfaces. We have for a long time trusted interchange of information because again, these systems have been built up over a long period of time and we have come to expect that they will function correctly. What we are doing now in interchange is kind of as we developed our own languages, it worked and so we have been doing it.
I think among the things that need to be done are very specific interface tests or interface controls to make sure that transactions from the outside will not contain elements, erroneous elements that would cause our own failures. All that means is that we at least won't put ourselves down if we get bad data from someone else. But I think that's certainly necessary to do that kind of thing. Again that's the characteristic of the solution that I suggest.
As to the worst case scenario, I think Bruce is probably better prepared to answer that. But I did see an internal briefing memo in Gardner Group where they tried to put the Y2K problem into perspective. They started out with a nuclear disaster killing off 80 percent of the species. Then they had a meteor hit would be 50 percent of the species. They assured us that Y2K will not result in the elimination of more than one percent of the species. That was their number.
Ms. NORTON. That's why I say what is theI am trying to get the worst case scenario that is reasonable to expect rather than everybody's speculation about how the world could come to an end and the planet will be blown away.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Mr. WEBSTER. Sure. Addressing your first question, what you are discussing is contingency planning. I spent nine months setting up contingency planning for a Fortune 50 corporation on Y2K. The issue is you say how can we survive and be stable in the absence of continued functioning of certain or key partners. You in essence have to develop a set of scenarios, and more important than that is set up priorities and principles by which to decide how will we judge, what will we do if certain events happen, and how will we deal with that.
Worst case scenario, if we have the leadership and effort that I think we can and should have in this country, I think we can probably handle most of the worst case situations here. I think the reasonable worst case scenario is probably a significant economic downturn, possibly a full recession, due primarily to lack of Y2K remediation in the rest of the world.
That means interruptions in all of the various inexpensive imports that we bring into the country currently, including oil, including consumer goods, disruptions in the air travel possibly to other countries that aren't handling it. There may be other benefits to the U.S. The U.S. may be seen as a safe haven for money, so you may see a big financial transfer from foreign markets into the U.S. markets. The problem is there are enough unknowns between now and then, it's hard to say here's what we'll cut off.
Ms. NORTON. Thank you very much.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Ms. Norton.
I am a little curious, Mr. Webster, you mentioned that you think on January 1, 2000, we'll be hunkering down, taking a deep breath, trying to come up with or determine what precautions we should take or something to that effect. Do either of you have a guesstimate as to how long the serious parts of these problems might continue? Will business be pretty much back to normal by January 2 or February 2 or will we be feeling the serious repercussions from this problem for a year or two or more?
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Mr. WEBSTER. The answer is sort of all of the above. The organizations that have taken the time, be they Federal agencies or corporations, that have done the work will probably be able to bring themselves up and be stable by sometime I would guess the end of the first week of January. But it may take longer, based on who their partners are and what has to be done.
Embedded systems problems, you know, first we have to say problems are not going to all hit on January 1. We are going to have problems leading up there, and we are going to have problems that are going to be showing up for days and weeks and in some cases months afterwards, particularly in embedded systems, where things continue fine for a certain period of time and then the errors or problems become visible one way or the other.
I think the overall disruption will be, you know, that the most intense disruption will probably be for a week or so. As I said, I think by the time we get to the end of next year, we are going to be so sick of hearing about Y2K. It's going to be sort of El Nino squared. That people will say okay, you know, let's just wait. Let's just not do things. Let's see what happens. That alone will reduce the impact. This is not going to hit us unaware. We are going to be totally aware for it, totally prepared. My feeling is what is key is leadership, because what we need is social cohesion. That will mitigate more than any other single factor, social cohesion and leadership will mitigate the impacts of whatever Y2K events do occur.
Mr. SULLIVAN. I agree with Bruce. My disappointment is in no one from the administration standing up and saying we have an objective. I mean we are trying to achieve this level of performance. We are trying to have this happen. What I see instead is we are going to try to utilize our resources well. We are going to try to do the best we can. That is, the process is being managed. But I haven't seen the goal. I haven't seen the objective that here is what we are going to try to achieve. Because we are going to start seeing these Y2K failure stories. The press will not pass up a good airline crash. The press is not going to pass up these failures. Those are going to concern people and they are going to be worried, as they are when they read about an airline crash. Are they going to get on an airplane.
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So you are going to see that same phenomena begin in 1999. If they can't get their confidence from somewhere that everything that's computerized is at risk, that is going to cause quite a bit of disarray in the social fabric. Regardless of what the technical problems are and how they may be resolved, this trust we have right now, this kind of implied trust that technology will work, is going to be eliminated big time starting next year.
Mr. KUCINICH. Would the chairman yield?
Mr. DUNCAN. Yes. Mr. Kucinich?
Mr. KUCINICH. You know, I just want to state for the record that there has been several hearings with various Government agencies that have shown that people have set target dates to meet performance levels, compliance levels, and I think that it's important to recognize that and not to let enter into the record unchallenged these broad sweeping statements that would imply that the Government hasn't done anything, because that is just not true. You know, we're getting a little bit fast and loose here right now.
Mr. Chairman, I have been in many of these hearings, both in the district as well as here in Washington. I appreciate the fact that people come forward to testify. But these witnesses aren't plenipotentiaries. I mean they are just people that are dealing in this business. It's good to have you here. But we have to realize that the source of the testimony represents a narrow view of a certain part of an industry and not suddenly the spokespersons for the entire world on this.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 I mean you have to forgive me, gentlemen, but let's put this in perspective. You know, we are going to hear from Ms. Garvey. I am looking forward even more now to hear from Ms. Garvey, because I want to hear something that's really happening as opposed to speculation.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Sullivan, you mentioned the press and you mentioned the press can't pass up a good crash. When we have held hearings in the Aviation Subcommittee about plane crashes, we have been loaded with cameras. In fact, many of our hearings on even other subjects have had cameras presence, from the President, from various networks and so forth and CSPAN. Yet I notice today nobody is here. I just wondered, do you gentlemen think that there isand yet I seem to have read a lot of publicity about this. Do you think there's a great deal of public awareness or do you think that most of the public is not really alert about the problems in this regard? What do you gentlemen think about that?
Mr. WEBSTER. The only poll I have actually seen on it indicates that about two-thirds of the American public does not have much awareness on the Y2K. As far as the media coverage itself, it follows I think a classic hype anti-hype cycle. You have a story that says, you know, the world is going to end. Then you have a story that says the world is not going to end. The result of the two extremes, which is what most people are exposed to, is they either become desensitized to the problem or the press simply loses credibility.
As I said in my opening statement, the extreme positions are not either feasible or the ones that we need to promulgate. The fact is, I think we will have serious problems that we have not had addressed. Again, I will say I have made assertions concerning the state of Government agencies, but I will assert that we have had a profound lack of leadership from the administration on this subject. In the absence of visible leadership, any information from any source will fill the vacuum.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Well, now what are you talking about specifically there when you say lack of leadership? What do you think that the administration should be doing, for instance?
Mr. WEBSTER. Well, I thought President Clinton gave an outstanding speech to the National Academy of Sciences. It was good. It was concise. It was relevant. He touched on all the good points. It was done in the morning. It was not televised. I dare say 99 percent of the population of the U.S. never saw it. That should have been, in my opinion, done on prime time television. It should have been part of his State of the Union address back in January. This is not a new problem. The problem has been known for decades. The Federal Government has known about it for years, has been working on it for years. But it is in the absence of saying basically then I amwell, I won't state my party affiliation, but it's in the minority here.
The President emphasizes education, social security, and rightly so. This will have a far greater impact on the social well-being of this country than either of those issues over the next two years. It should get at least equal weighting in my opinion.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Webster, since everything is so tied in or so based on utilities and on power and so forth, how likely is it, do you think it is that we would have a disruption in our utilities?
Mr. WEBSTER. I was being fairly optimistic until I attended the opening hearing of the Senate Committee on Y2K in which Senator Bennett announced that they have surveyed 10 of the largest power companies in the United States and eight of which said they were still in the assessment phase. For those of us who work on Y2K, that's a big red flag. If you are a corporation or organization of sufficient size, you should have been done with assessment last year, not in the summer of 1998.
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Again, I think the power grid as a whole will survive. I think you may see rolling brownouts, as I mentioned, in certain areas of the country.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Well, gentlemen, thank you very much. We need to move onto our next panel. You have both been outstanding witnesses and we certainly appreciate your being here with us. Thank you very much.
We'll call up the next panel at this time. That is the Honorable Jane F. Garvey, who is administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration, and Brigadier General Retired John J. Kelly, Jr., who is assistant administrator for Weather Services of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
I would like to ask first for both of you to please stand and raise your right hands and be sworn.
Mr. DUNCAN. You may be seated.
Administrator Garvey, you may begin your statement. Thank you very much for being here with us.
TESTIMONY OF JANE F. GARVEY, ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION; ACCOMPANIED BY BRIGADERE GENERAL (RETIRED) JOHN J. KELLY, JR., ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR FOR WEATHER SERVICES, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
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Ms. GARVEY. Thank you very much. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Chairwoman Morella, Mr. Oberstar, and members of the committee. I appreciate very much the opportunity to appear before you this morning to discuss the FAA activities with respect to the year 2000. I have already submitted my formal written testimony and I would like to ask that it be made part of the record.
Mr. DUNCAN. It will be made a part of the full record.
Ms. GARVEY. Thank you. This morning I would like to offer a few comments to talk about where we are at the FAA, what we have done, and what we are doing to solve this problem, both within the agency and within the aviation industry. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I have made the Y2K issue a top priority. As some of you have mentioned, we have created an agency-wide program office at the FAA which reports directly to me. We have closed significant gap in OMB's Federal Y2K compliance schedule, and continue to move steadily towards resolving this issue within the agency.
Our teams in the field have already assessed every system in the FAA, not just the mission-critical systems. We are now well into our renovation phase, where we actually make modifications to the systems that need them. By the time of the next OMB quarterly report, the FAA is scheduled to complete renovation of 99 percent of all required systems. Those systems will be subject to independent validation and verification, both by an outside contractor and reviewed by the department's inspector general.
I do want to mention the two systems that won't be done. They are not part of the air traffic control system. They actually are computers which process pilot records and aircraft records. They will be renovated in the November/December time frame. We saved $2 million by waiting until that time frame. We talked with OMB and they are in agreement with that.
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We are then on schedule to have the majority of our systems compliant within the OMB's deadline of March 31, 1999. All of our systems will be fully compliant by the end of June, 1999. We continue to evaluate our schedule to see if we can pull additional systems into the March 31 timeframe.
We have overcome many obstacles to get where we are toady. I am proud of the work that we do, but I also know that we face many challenges in the months ahead. One of the challenges is working with our partners in industry to identify other areas within the aviation system that require a solution. I would like to highlight some of the activities that we have undertaken at the FAA to address those industry-wide concerns.
First of all, along with ATA, the FAA conducted and sponsored an industry day in June of this year. We have another one scheduled for late October. Our goals in these forums are threefold. First of all to assess the situation. Secondly, to identify solutions. Thirdly, to avoid duplication. The industry days bring together key stakeholders from all sections of the industry. They have been very well attended. Over 120 were at the June Industry Day. I think it's fair to say that we all felt that it was extraordinarily beneficial.
We have also communicated with manufacturers of critical airport systems, stressing the need for their products to be Y2K complaint, and asking that pertinent information be sent to the affected airports and the FAA. We have also distributed and developed a comprehensive airport systems list, distributed that to over 5,000 public airports to help them identify and correct Y2K issues.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 In these outreach activities, we have learned that some airports, particularly the smaller airports, are having difficulty with Y2K compliance because they lack the resources to conduct the assessments of their existing facilities. In an effort to aid those airports, we are proposing an amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill now pending, which would provide authority during Fiscal Year 1999 only, by the way, for airports to use their AIP program entitlement grants or State apportionment funds to assess all of their facilities. We think this will help particularly the smaller airports.
On the international front, we have a great deal going on. We have a project planned that was completed in April. We have a director of the international office. That project plan lays out a very clear blueprint for coordination with our international partners. We are working very closely with the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, to raise awareness of Y2K issues in the international community. We have assigned a fulltime employee to work with ICAO in Montreal to offer guidance in support in any way that we can.
Last week at the September session of the ICAO assembly in Montreal, I had the pleasure of introducing two Y2K resolutions on behalf of the United States. The first resolution urges that each ICAO member state provide Y2K status in the form of a notice to airmen no later than July 1, 1999. The second resolution will require ICAO to develop and publish for use by its member states an international assessment criteria for each state, so that's including the United States so that we can all use it to assess the progress made by the individual countries. I am happy to say that both resolutions were very well received.
Mr. Chairman, while I am pleased with the progress that the FAA has made in solving our Y2K problems, we recognize that this is a unique situation and it is a deadline that some, as you have suggested this morning, will not move. We appreciate the oversight and the support that Congress has provided. We think that's been instrumental in encouraging all of us to work collaboratively to assure a smooth transition into the year 2000.
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Let me say I feel much better than I did last February when I appeared before both of these committees. But I have to say, I am not over confident and I won't be until January 2, 2000.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to address these three committees and I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you very much for being with us.
General Kelly, you may begin your statement.
General KELLY. Mr. Chairman, Chairwoman Morella, Mr. Oberstar, members of the committee, it's a pleasure to be here today to testify on the subject of year 2000 testing and compliance at the National Weather Service and our relationships with the aviation and general public communities. I have submitted written testimony and would request that it be made a part of the record.
The National Weather Service, in conjunction with other National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agencies and the Department of Commerce Information Technology groups has been working since 1996 to ensure all our systems are Y2K compliant so there is no disruption of operations when the millennium date change occurs.
A point to remember regarding actual weather data is that it, unlike data using other sectors of the economy, the date and year do not affect it. The reason for that is all weather data is characterized by a six digit code. The first two digits represent the day of the month, and the last four digits characterize the hour of the day. So while the actual weather data is and of itself not a problem as we convert from 1999 to the year 2000, the data is produced and the data is communicated using automated information systems. So we are in the process of assessing all National Weather Service computer base systems, applications software, system software, hardware, communications, and non-information processing systems in accordance with the United States Government's Y2K compliance standards and requirements.
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All our systems, both mission and non-mission critical have either been certified or are in the process of being certified as Y2K compliant. We plan to have all Y2K related fixes fully implemented at all National Weather Service sites by the end of March of 1999.
National Weather Service operations are complex and widespread, which makes Y2K compliance of particular importance. National Weather Service has over 170 communication interfaces with other Federal Government agencies, the private sector, research institutions, and other nations. These interfaces involve the receipt and transmission of thousands of observations every hour, which are input to our complex mathematical numerical weather prediction models.
Aviation operations at all U.S. airports are dependent on these hourly and special surface weather observations, as well as the airport terminal forecasts we produce. In addition, we receive similar data for foreign airports which are in turn transmitted to the FAA and domestic airlines to support their flight operations planning. On the average, we receive, transmit, and process over 50 billion characters of weather data every day.
This complex and vast array of users, interfaces, and data distribution mechanisms poses some external risks that must also be addressed. As with other organizations that are heavily dependent upon the national communication infrastructure, there is some risk to our operations if the telephone companies we rely on are not Y2K compliant. There is some uncertainty regarding the receipt of international weather data. As part of the overall contingency planning we are doing, we are assessing these potential risks so that reasonable contingencies are in place to ensure that continued flow of weather data.
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In addition, we continue to pursue the President's Fiscal Year 1999 budget request for $4.9 million to procure and install a class VIII supercomputer at our National Centers for Environmental Prediction. This upgrade will provide a Y2K compliant system and provide us the computing capacity to improve weather prediction modeling and increase the accuracy of our aviation products and our severe weather products.
To make certain our Y2K certification is valid and integrated, end-to-end test will be conducted in February 1999 over a three-day period to demonstrate that our Y2K certification is valid. The testing has been developed in consultation with and will be done in conjunction with domestic and international partners like the FAA, the United States Air Force, and the private sector.
Our planning and testing are designed to ensure we can continue operations during the Y2K date change with no interruption of services.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify, Mr. Chairman. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, General Kelly. I am going to go first for questions on this panel to Chairman Steve Horn.
Mr. HORN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to question these witnesses. They are key people in terms of what is going to happen within the Executive Branch.
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Let me start with Ms. Garvey. You stated that the next quarterly report the FAA's mission-critical systems will be 99 percent renovated. What percent will be renovated by tomorrow, September 30th, which was OMB's deadline for renovation completion?
Ms. GARVEY. Mr. Chairman, we will have 99 percent renovated tomorrow. What we are going to need the additional two weeks for is to make sure we get that independent validation, both by our outside contractor and the IG. They have done a great deal of it to date, but we want to be able, when we report to OMB, to also have the benefit of that independent validation. So we'll have them all renovated tomorrow with our own validation, but we'll use that little additional time to get the independent validation from the IG, who has been by the way, extraordinarily helpful to us through this process.
Mr. HORN. Now your validation groups I take it are team 4 and team 5? And could you tell us what those teams are?
Ms. GARVEY. We actually have three types of validation going on. First of all, when a line of business does its work, it does its own validation. That then is moved into the program office, the Y2K program office, at which time we get the outside contractor, whom we've had on board since last spring. They do an independent, a quick evaluation. That then moves to the IG who does another evaluation. It goes back to the outside contractor after that for an intense in-depth validation. So we think it's a good insurance, belt and suspenders approach.
Mr. HORN. The validation approach within the FAA as I gather moves much more rapidly than the inspector general's validation.
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Ms. GARVEY. Well, I would never suggest that the inspector general is not anything but timely.
Mr. HORN. I take it though the inspector general does take more time. Now what's the difference between the internal and the inspector general?
Ms. GARVEY. Well, I think there are actually two reasons. One is that the inspector general has a little bit fewer resources on this than we have. We have the benefit of having people both in the field and within headquarters who are available to us, and of course I think the resources is one point. I think that is really the main reason.
But I have to say we are working very closely. The turnaround time has been very good.
Mr. HORN. When do you think both groups will report, the 4 and 5 team would report in what, a couple of weeks?
Ms. GARVEY. We expect to have it as part of the formal submission for OMB, which is October 15th. People are literally working around the clock to get it done.
Mr. HORN. So that will be done for the October 15th quarterly report?
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Ms. GARVEY. That is correct. But again, we did meet the September 30 deadline for 99 percent.
Mr. HORN. How about the inspector general's report. When will that come in?
Ms. GARVEY. I would have to get back to you, Mr. Chairman, on when that will be, but we'll get a date for you on that.
Mr. HORN. Do you still believe that after validation by both of these groups that it will still be 99 percent mission-critical systems renovation as of September 30th or are you dubious on some of that?
Ms. GARVEY. We believe it will be, Mr. Chairman. To date, the work that we have done has been very positive. We have not uncovered any unusual problems or any real difficulties. So we remain comfortably confident, but not overly confident.
Mr. HORN. As I understand it by the staff and GAO, every time the FAA reports the status of the systems, your baseline numbers seem to change. Now my staff, the GAO, even the inspector general have expressed concern about the baseline numbers that are changing all the time. So let me ask you. Does this mean FAA still does not have an accurate assessment of how many systems need to be fixed and what type of strategy is going to be used to fix these systems?
Ms. GARVEY. We have had some changes as we have moved through the process as we learn more about the systems and make determination about whether or not something is in fact mission critical. So we have had some changes, fewer more recently though as we have gotten more comfortable with the process.
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But I would also add that we meet every other week with the IG and with our colleagues from the Department of Transportation. So any change that comes along is again checked with them and talked through to make sure that we're making the right decision. So I think everyone is feeling much more confident and much more comfortable about the process.
I have to say even as we move forward, there may be still some slight changes as we learn more about the process.
Mr. HORN. Well, thinking of the October 15th deadline for the quarterly report, when can we expect to see a stable baseline of the number of systems that are currently compliant, being repaired, or being replaced?
Ms. GARVEY. That will be included in the OMB reporting system of October 15th. We'll be using the numbers that have been again, verified and checked by the IG.
Mr. HORN. Well, thank you. I wish you well.
Ms. GARVEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HORN. I yield back the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
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Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. GARVEY. Good morning.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Administrator Garvey, good morning. It's always a delight to have you with us in this committee. General Kelly, congratulations to you on the splendid job the Weather Service does. Your resources are being tried heavily, taxed heavily in these days of hurricane activity.
General KELLY. It's been busy.
Mr. OBERSTAR. We admire the skill and professionalism of your staff.
General KELLY. Thank you.
Mr. OBERSTAR. As I track the Weather Service. I am really a weather junkie, and stay up late at night to watch.
The heart of the en route system is a host computer system. There are 23 million movements a year managed by our ARTCC. The host microcode examination was completed the end of June as I recall in briefings with your staff, that there were two 70 year old retired IBM computer programmers who did extensive testing and created a patch that actually works.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 The host does not count by calendar. It counts by binary clock that runs every 37 years. That current binary clock will run out in the year 2006. The host, if all plans for the DSR work according to the waterfall of your programming, will be replaced by then. Is that correct?
Ms. GARVEY. That is correct, Mr. Oberstar. In fact, we hope to have it replaced by 2000. The last drop date is October of 2000. But we are, as you suggested, we are proceeding with renovation just in case we don't get some of those actually replaced in that timeframe.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Meanwhile this patch will actually cover the
Ms. GARVEY. That is correct.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Would you not describe it here, but submit for the record the patch, how it works and what it does? I don't think we need to have a long technical discussion on that, but if Ray Long could submit that for us.
Ms. GARVEY. We'll do that, Congressman, yes.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I know he knows it well because he described it for me, and I just don't remember it.
Ms. GARVEY. I'll have him describe it for me too now. Thank you.
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Mr. OBERSTAR. The other systems, for example, Stars, is now in the works and to be online next year this time?
Ms. GARVEY. That is correct.
Mr. OBERSTAR. It has already corrected the question that you are dealing with here. We will not face a Y2K problem with Stars. Is that correct?
Ms. GARVEY. We certainly don't expect any. In March of 1997, the FAA issued a policy calling for all the new equipment to be Y2K compliant. We of course require the contractor to do extensive testing that we need to validate before we accept the equipment. Before we accept any of that new equipment, it will be tested in our tech center for Y2K compliance. But that is part of the newer contracts that we have with the FAA.
Mr. OBERSTAR. The principal problem with the host system is the code embedded in the hardware that tells it how to turn on, cooling, and maintenance systems, it is not computer software or hardware that actually controls traffic, and that should this patch not work I understand, that it can actually be turned on manually every two months?
Ms. GARVEY. That is correct.
Mr. OBERSTAR. To ensure that this system hits the thermal conduction module. You probably can't see this here, but Ray Long provided me with this very intriguing design of the isometric view of thermo conduction module.
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If it doesn't turn on, the system overheats and shuts down, and that shuts down all air traffic operations. It isn't actually controlling the air traffic itself, but if
Ms. GARVEY. That's exactly right.
Mr. OBERSTAR. The heating, cooling system within.
Ms. GARVEY. The heating cooling system, yes.
Mr. OBERSTAR. These things aren't brain surgery, but they are complex.
The Association of Airport Executives sent out to its members a survey of Y2K problems and asked its members to report back. Are you familiar with their reporting and what they have heard back from airport members?
Ms. GARVEY. We are familiar, and I know you are going to hear from Carol Hallett later, but I do want to say publicly how extraordinarily helpful they have been as well as AAAE and ACI in working with the airports.
I think the progress to date is varied. Some airports are doing very, very well, as you would expect. Others are having some difficulty. I think the assessment is really the first step. We have had a team that's been working with ATA and many of the other associations since June, meeting regularly to look at the airports, to take advantage of those assessments and to determine where we need to perhaps provide some additional technical help. So the progress to date I think is varied at the airports. I think it is going to be very important, as we move into that October Industry Day to really focus even more attention on some of those issues. That is why we think that language for the reauthorization could be very helpful to some of the smaller airports.
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Mr. OBERSTAR. There are not only the FAA air traffic control system, airlines have internal concerns. There's 182 computers on board the B-777. All those have to be validated. Aircraft manufacturers, suppliers, repair stations, the international community, computer reservation systems, travel agents, power and telecommunication networks, all of those either interact with or support aviation services. Is your staff continuing to monitor the progress made in all these other related areas of aviation activity?
Ms. GARVEY. Very much so, Congressman. Again, I think as we have gotten our house more in order, we are focusing even more on some of our external partners.
As I mentioned, internationally we had the opportunity to introduce two resolutions last week. Those are being discussed by the technical committees this week.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I was going to ask you about you session at ICAO. You proposed two initiatives.
Ms. GARVEY. That's correct.
Mr. OBERSTAR. What has been the response so far from the international community?
Ms. GARVEY. The response was really quite positive. I had an opportunity to address the 145 countries that were assembled there. We really found some very strong support, for they are being discussed by the technical committees this week. But we are not anticipating any difficulties.
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I do have to say that the issue of sort of full public disclosure, which is really part of what we are asking for, is for some countries difficult, and yet there was such a recognition that this is a global issue and one of such critical importance that I think the countries were much more willing to embrace this than they may otherwise have been. So I was very encouraged by the response that we received.
Mr. OBERSTAR. You asked for a NOTAM on public assurance of validated safety of their system through year 2000?
Ms. GARVEY. That is exactly right. First the criteria to be established by ICAO. That criteria would be established in January. Then beyond that, by July of 1999, a notice to airmen, or what's called a NOTAM in the international community, a notice that would indicate exactly where each country was in relationship to those criteria.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Now the four steps of addressing this issue have been the awareness, the assessment, the renovation, which you will have at FAA completed to your satisfaction by tomorrow. Then the validation phase, and final implementation. Excuse me, five.
Ms. GARVEY. That's right.
Mr. OBERSTAR. The implementation. You have already had outside contractors doing assessment and renovation and validation. Where does this next step go now? Who else has to be involved in validation?
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Ms. GARVEY. The independent validation is of the renovation work, but we will keep that contractor on board as we move into the testing phase so that we again have outside validation of the work that we're doing.
Again, in addition, the inspector general has a very strong commitment to this issue as well, and will be working with us as we do the testing and as we move forward into the testing phase. So we're getting a lot of good expertise and outside advice and counsel, both from within Government and from outside Government as well.
I met yesterday with GAO to talk about some of the issues that they have raised as well.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Okay. Well, there are a number of other questions that I would like to explore with you, but I think I have been staying in touch with Ray Long regularly on this matter. He's been most cooperative.
Ms. GARVEY. Thank you very much, Congressman.
Mr. OBERSTAR. And informative as well. So I just want to compliment you on the leadership that you have demonstrated in bringing people together, the collaborative effort that's taken place within FAA and with outside groups, and the progress that has been made to date.
Ms. GARVEY. Thank you. Thank you very much, sir.
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Oberstar.
Mrs. MORELLA. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Garvey, you know how I feel about the work that you have done. I think you've done yoewoman's work. I commend you for it. There are still big tasks ahead of us and I think you have done yoeman's work, General Kelly. You know that too.
But I wanted to pick up on one of the questions that Mr. Oberstar mentioned in terms of the ICAO. What, I mean I know the resolutions were submitted, the resolutions were well received, they obviously haven't been adopted yet because I guess that goes through a time sequence?
Ms. GARVEY. This is the week that the technical committees are taking it up.
Mrs. MORELLA. Okay. Do you have authority to suspend flights to certain countries if you are not assured that their systems are Y2K compliant?
Ms. GARVEY. If safety is an issue, Congresswoman, we do have that authority. The issue of safety is so critical and so paramount. We obviously and of course would not want that to happen. Obviously the economic issues surrounding that are something we would like to avoid. But in the case of safety, that is our paramount concern. That is our greatest interest.
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Mrs. MORELLA. How do you measure that in advance?
Ms. GARVEY. We are really going towe have been talking a lot about that internally, about how we will come to those decisions. I think mid-year of this next year it is going to be very important for us as we're looking at many of those issues surrounding it.
Just to make a couple of comments on that though. There are several steps of course before you would get to that point. The first question is, is there another backup? If there's a system that is not Y2K compliant, is there a backup system. Sometimes there is and sometimes that will work. If it is not, is there something that can be done manually. If it's the processing of flight data, for example, can it be done manually. That would be the next step.
The final step was there's no backup, if you can't do it manually, if there's nothing else you can do, then you really do look at the issue of if this is a system that is related to the safe movement of aircraft, then you may have to take that step or we may have to take that step. Not one we would take lightly, but one we are going to be monitoring very carefully. I think the international communities knows that we would not hesitate if we felt safety was compromised.
Mrs. MORELLA. So you will be streamlining that system for that kind of evaluation too.
Ms. GARVEY. Exactly.
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Mrs. MORELLA. It is critically important.
In terms of FAA's Y2K role in the oversight of the aviation industry, are you concerned about the fact that you have to rely on the aviation industry for their own self assessment with regard to their compliance?
Ms. GARVEY. Well, let me mention two or three points. One is that of course I think the cooperation to date has been extraordinary. Everybody wants this to succeed, so that there has been I think a real coming together of the community around this issue. So I think there's a lot of sort of self motivation on this, which is always important.
In terms of manufacturers, for example, we are also building into our inspectors just regular surveillance, the Y2K compliance issue, so that we have a way to check against, for example, a manufacturer's own self assessment. So we have a way to check which I think is very, very important.
So I think I am comfortable with the position we're in now. I think it's one that where we have a number of steps that we can take, and we have a number of contingencies that we can rely on, and we have an industry that is very willing to solve the problem with us.
Mrs. MORELLA. So you are saying in your answer then, Ms. Garvey, you do have a process?
Ms. GARVEY. We do have a process. With airports as well, by the way, because 139, there's some very specific having to do with the air side safety issues, where it's very clear that we have a real responsibility and have the ability to leverage some of the authority that we have.
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Mrs. MORELLA. And you are coordinating with other agencies too?
Ms. GARVEY. We are coordinating both with ATA, for example, and also with individual airports and with the airport organizations like AAAE and ACI. So we have a lot of good coordination going on in that area.
Mrs. MORELLA. Of course the smaller airports is a major area of concern for us.
Ms. GARVEY. Absolutely. And one that I know both the airlines themselves, as well as the airport groups are very concerned about and working very hard.
We, by the way, are going to have a team of about five to six FAA computer specialists that will be made available to some of the smaller airports to help them and work those issues through, which I think will be helpful as well.
Mrs. MORELLA. Good. Thank you.
In terms of time, I just have to thank General Kelly a question. I don't want him to think that we're ignoring him at all. I wonder about your partnership with external customers to assure the uninterrupted exchange of data into the year 2000. I just wondered have all of the data exchange interfaces been assessed?
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 General KELLY. We have assessed our interfaces. Part of the reason we want to do early next year our end-to-end test is in fact to see if our assessment is correct and if our external users assessment is in fact correct. That is, when we send them the data, do they get it, and can they use it? So we have been working with private sectors, a number of private meteorology companies, the FAA, the Air Force, to take a look at the interfaces that we have and they have with us, to ensure that it will be a seamless passage of data.
Mrs. MORELLA. What is your time frame?
General KELLY. February 1999 is our plan to do a 72 hour test, we call it the end-to-end interface test, of our system.
Mrs. MORELLA. And telecommunications interrelates with you too. Do you want to comment on that?
General KELLY. Yes. That is an area of concern to us and I'm sure to the FAA is are the telephone companies going to be ready.
Mrs. MORELLA. So it's not just a concern. You are moving to working and assuring that the telecommunications systems are going to be
General KELLY. Well, we're working to develop some reasonable contingency plans in case some of the telecommunication systems don't work.
Mrs. MORELLA. We look forward to hearing from you in the future too, General Kelly. I know I am in touch with Ms. Garvey often, but to also get NOAA's point of view as you progress. Thank you.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Ms. Morella.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Administrator Garvey, I want to join the others in saying that I think you have mounted a very successful, at least a very good start toward a successful effort in dealing with this troublesome problem. I still intend to stay off planes around that time, but that's just sort of a tradition of mine. I don't fly anywhere on New Years.
But I am curious about the AIP issue and how that's going to be monitored or assessed, because some airports, even some small airports, have already gone ahead. It was an ineligible expense at the time I understand. Now we are going to sort of have this or hope to have authorized this new expanded authorization for the funds. I am sort of concerned about some equity issues. I am also concerned about the monitoring of those expenditures and what they might be acquiring with those funds that they would have needed to acquire anyway. Could you address that a little bit?
Ms. GARVEY. I'll try. Let me say first of all that the language that we have offered, and again this is just being offered, but the language that we have offered would allow small airports or would allow airports rather to do the assessment because some of the smaller airports have said that's a real problem.
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Some of the other Y2K compliance issues are already eligible under existing AIP eligibility. So for the actual purchase of some of the equipment, that is currently, that would be currently eligible. It is really the assessment where some of the airports have suggested they have got a problem. So we would monitor it the way we do now through our airports office, regional airports office, and then ultimately in Washington. But the issue about reimbursement for those that have already done it is one that we have not yet considered and we should think about that as well. We can talk with you a little bit further perhaps.
Mr. DEFAZIO. So basically there would be no expanded purchasing authority, just authority to pay for assessment?
Ms. GARVEY. That's correct. Again, it's really trying to deal with some of the smaller airports that have raised issues with us.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Okay. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First of all, I have to commend the administrator. In comparing the discussion today with the discussion last February, you and your organization have come a long way in a relatively short time, and I commend you for that.
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Ms. GARVEY. Thank you very much, Congressman.
Mr. EHLERS. You really seem to be on top of it at this point.
A couple specific questions. I know you note in your written testimony as we already knew, that Ray Long has been appointed to head this effort within the agency. But you also comment in your testimony that you are working with the over 5,000 public airports, et cetera. Is Ray heading that up too or have you appointed someone else or do you have a specific task force? How are you going to implement? That's a huge task.
Ms. GARVEY. That's a fair question. That gives me an opportunity to say first of all what a terrific job Ray has done, but also how every line of business has a sense of urgency about this. I think Ray and I have said at several occasions that without that sense of urgency from every line of business, it won't work.
So in the case of airports, for example, Susan Curland, who is the associate administrator for airports, is taking a real leadership role to make sure that that piece of it, and she has a program person who is in charge of it, but that that piece of the Y2K issue is dealt with. All of that information though flows through Ray's office. So that if I have got a question, I generally go to the program office and they get to the right line of business, get the answer. We wanted to have one central place where it is coordinated. That's really the program offices, and Ray Long and Mary King's function.
Mr. EHLERS. And how is that coming along? Are there deadlines on that? Are there issues that you are dealing with there in terms of making sure the airports are up to snuff?
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Ms. GARVEY. I think that is going well. We formed with ATA a task force last June, also in partnership with the regional airlines, a partnership with AAAE and ACI. That group is meeting regularly to look very specifically at the information that is coming in. I think we always have some concerns, as Congresswoman Morella suggested, about those areas where you don't fully control all of the outcomes. But I think it is going very, very well, with a strong commitment across the board.
Again, I would say that our primary emphasis has been and I think should be focusing on the air traffic control system and making sure that we get that in order.
Mr. EHLERS. I understand that, but I am wondering if this working group you have talked about has adopted timelines and schedules?
Ms. GARVEY. Absolutely. I am sorry I didn't answer that. Yes, they have. As a matter of fact, they are consistent with our guidelines with June of 1999 being the target date for full completion. So we are trying to match those guidelines where we can.
Mr. EHLERS. A related question in terms of reaching out. You have a large field staff, a number of inspectors who may have to deal with this but may not have training in it. Have you been training your field staff, your inspectors and so forth to ask the right questions and to understand the answers they must ask the various airlines, the pilots and so forth?
Ms. GARVEY. We have done some training, but I would also add that we have really got the best experts in the world. The FAA equipment is so unique to the FAA and the folks who have maintained it over the years are really the ones that know it best. In terms of the inspectors going out to the manufacturers and so forth, they do have the right questions to ask. They know how to ask them and what they should be looking for. So we have provided that kind of training.
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Mr. EHLERS. What about general aviation, particularly the individually-owned airplanes, not so much the business-owned airplanes. They may not be in some of your loops here.
Ms. GARVEY. Well, and they have been part of the Industry Day and in very good attendance. But that is something that I think some of those very individual aircraft are more of a concern. I think that's something as we get into the months ahead we'll have to even step up a bit.
Mr. EHLERS. Generally Kelly, you mentioned in your testimony a concern about telecommunications operators. You also amplified that a bit in response to a question. I guess the question for both of you is do you see that the telecommunications system in general in the United States is on top of the problem, is likely to meet the deadlines, and that you will not have a great deal of difficulty with any telecommunications equipment you are using, whether lines or switching systems, satellites, whatever?
General KELLY. I was all set to answer in the affirmative and then you threw the word ''any'' in. It is a very complex system. I am encouraged that the telecommunication companies understand the problem and are working on it. But given the importance of our forecasts to the lives and safety of American citizens, we are going to take the prudent course of action and try to develop some contingency plans to ensure we can get data moved around, just in case they don't succeed. But I am encouraged that they understand the problem and are working to address it.
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Mr. EHLERS. Administrator Garvey, do you wish to add anything?
Ms. GARVEY. I would concur with Mr. Kelly.
Mr. EHLERS. I see that my time has expired. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. KUCINICH. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I would like to begin by going back to the testimony of Ms. Garvey. Just to cite some brief statements. In February of this year, she says I changed the FAA's approach to the Y2K problems. By tomorrow, page 2, September 30, the OMB deadline for renovations, the FAA is scheduled to complete renovations of 99 percent of all recorded systems, subject to review by Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General. Page 3, we're on schedule to have a majority of our systems compliant within the DOT and OMB deadline of March 31, 1999. All FAA systems will be fully compliant by the end of June, 1999, a date that we have accelerated from our original estimate of November 1999.
I think the American people owe you a debt of gratitude, as well as further encouragement on your efforts to try to make the system work. I think all of us understand the urgency of making sure that the FAA is Y2K compliant and that all of the other supporting systems are compliant as well, and that you have presented testimony here which I think any fair-minded person would have to conclude that the FAA is working very hard for its trying to make sure that the American people will be protected, that air traffic will be protected, that the system can work.
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We know fully well there are many things that need to be continued, must continue to be addressed, such as the telecommunications interface. I think that it is important as we focus on the second panel for us to address performance and to be able to recognize that something has been done. I say this in the context of the previous panel which spent two hours, not withstanding whatever narrow expertise they might have, two hours speculating. Within five minutes, the administrator was able to cut to the quick and give real information about something really being done.
In a sense, I think that that experience represents a motif of what has been going on in all of these Y2K discussions, of people who know very little about what the Government is doing, making wild predictions about what is going to happen, and then administrators coming forward to state what they have done to try to make sure that the performance of the Government is up to par.
Certainly we have to respect the contributions of people like Mr. Horn and other members, the chairman, Mr. Duncan, and others, who have been very conscientious in making sure the administration performs. I salute you for that. But we also have to recognize when people are attempting to do their job, and I'm as a member of this panel as well as the ranking member on Government Management, Information and Technology, I would urge all of you who are in attendance to focus on what speculations mean and what performance means. I am going to come down every time in favor of performance as opposed to speculations and hysteria.
I want to ask Jane Garvey, has the FAA been given enough resources by Congress to do the job it needs to do for the year 2000?
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Ms. GARVEY. Thank you, Congressman. Congress has been wonderful in saying whatever it takes let us know. I really know I am speaking not just for myself but for the secretary and everyone who is working on this issue. We appreciate that immensely. Resources have been there when we have needed them and we appreciate that.
Mr. KUCINICH. I want to go to General Kelly. In your testimony on page 3 you state that an award of a contractor to replace the current class VII supercomputer with Y2K compliant class VIII supercomputer is pending. How important is that Y2K compliant class VIII supercomputer to making sure the National Weather Service is able to do its job?
General KELLY. The class VII computer is not Y2K compliant. Our plan was, since we were going to replace it with a class VIII, not to make it Y2K compliant. Since there is some dispute as to whether we will or will not get the class VIII, we have developed a plan to make the class VII computer Y2K compliant. So it will be Y2K compliant if we don't get the class VIII. The problem will be in the course of doing that, we will have to do extensive testing, which will require us to take the computer off of operational use for a few hours several days over about a six week period. But come January 2000, the class VII computer will be, if it's still there, will be Y2K compliant.
Mr. KUCINICH. Thank you, General.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to just address the Chair for a moment and say that perhaps one of the many positive outcomes of having this particular hearing would be to have the committee look into what might be done to assist General Kelly and the National Weather Service to make sure that they get the Y2K compliant class VIII supercomputer instead of putting even more pressure on them to make sure that the class VII computer is compliant.
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Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Thank you very much, Mr. Kucinich.
I believe that Dr. Horn had another question or two.
Mr. HORN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. There's just one last question that came to mind when I had a chance to finish some of the witnesses that come next. Dwight Greenlee, who is the director of airport administration in the Wichita Airport, makes an interesting point which really hasn't come up. I would just like your response to it. He notes here the application process for the airport improvement program funds and the PFC funds is time consuming and once the monies are assured, the purchasing procedures can prolong a project for 60 or 90 days. A fast track process should be formulated which allows all necessary assurances to be made and eliminate delay. The type of procedure could be applied to areas such as utilities, security, environment and airfield related safety systems and equipment.
He goes on to say a vast majority of airports carry general liability insurance. It is questionable whether this insurance will cover claims resulting from failures due to Y2K problems. Certain insurance providers are requiring the insured to provide additional information concerning their facilities, systems, management procedures. If the response to these questions is satisfactory, the insurance provider will issue coverage for an additional premium. It is our desire to resolve Y2K problems prior to reaching the stage of liability claims. A resource such as the Environmental Insurance Fund should be considered.
Do you have a reaction to that thought?
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Ms. GARVEY. Two comments. One, I think the point on streamlining the process is well taken. I had just seen that testimony and thought that was an excellent suggestion.
The liability issue is one that has come up before, and one that we have actually talked to Mr. Koskinen about, the need to really even get his help in bringing together the insurance companies to really take a look at what they are saying and if there is a way to work with them on some of those issues. So I think that is a fair concern and one we would ask the White House for some help on.
Mr. HORN. You cleared up one point as you went through your answers, that was apparently you are going to be able to have a sort of country knowledge as to the degree to which foreign nations are going to be helpful in this area and be compliant. You said that information would come a few months from now, I believe.
Ms. GARVEY. Well, we are gathering information. In fact, ICAO this summer, and one of the reasons we sent someone up to Montreal is ICAO this summer began the process of collecting that information. They have gotten some responses, not as many as they would like. IATA as well, the International ATA, if you will, has also begun some site assessments of individual countries. So that information is coming in to Montreal now.
What we are saying is that we think that even beyond that, establishing the criteria and then also having all the countries with an absolute date of July 1999, having to reveal just how they are doing according to that criteria will give us the kind of information that we will need to make some decisions.
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Mr. HORN. What month do you think you will have that information?
Ms. GARVEY. We have a lot of it right now, but I think to say that we'll have all of the information, probably much closer to July than to January. We have a lot of it now, but I think it is fair to say we have more to gather, ICAO has more to gather.
Mr. HORN. So if we checked with you, we could find out the status of certain countries?
Ms. GARVEY. You certainly could. Certainly the ones that we have to date, we can let you know how we're doing getting the other information.
One other just interesting note in terms of the international, we know where 60 percent of the Americans travel. There are six countries that about 60 percent of our constituencies go to. What we have done is establish a kind of work team for each one of those countries so that we can work directly with them. In addition, either the secretary or myself has met with the head of, my counterpart of those countries to reaffirm how important this issue is. So we have got I think on the international front, we're doing a great deal.
Mr. HORN. Thank you.
Ms. GARVEY. Thank you, Mr. Horn.
Page 116 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Mr. HORN. I commend you for the progress you have made, as other Members have.
Ms. GARVEY. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Horn. I hadn't heard that statistic before, six countries.
Ms. GARVEY. It's interesting. I was surprised. We actually know the top 90 countries too, but the six were reallyplease don't ask me those.
Mr. DUNCAN. No, that's all right.
Ms. GARVEY. I bet Mr. Oberstar knows though.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Oberstar has a couple more questions on that.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you. The aircraft manufacturers have identified as potential problem areas navigation systems, flight management systems, inertial navigation systems. What can you report on the status of the FAA surveillance of their compliance?
Ms. GARVEY. Well, I can tell you a couple of things. One, I appeared at an international conference in June with one of my colleagues from Boeing, and I was very impressed with the kind of work that they are doing to make sure that a number of the smaller manufacturers that they deal with are working hard at this issue. So I think the kind of work that a company like Boeing is doing is I think very reassuring.
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We have sent out to all of the manufacturers assessments or asking for assessments. We did that in the summer, early summer months, June and July. We have gotten some information back. Quite frankly, we have been somewhat disappointed. We are now going back again. To his credit the secretary has said if you really are running into trouble, let me know, I'll put in some personal calls to people. The deputy secretary has volunteered as well. So we're still getting that information.
But what we are doing is asking our inspectors to build some of that into their forms. That is, they are going out and meeting with the manufacturers. They have that built into the normal surveillance as well. So we have more information to gather with the manufacturers. We think that's going to be a key part of the Industry Day in October. It's going to be very, very important.
Another issue that we have which has been very challenging is wondering if manufacturers can deliver on time some of the parts that we need for renovation. We have had to date, again, very good response. They have given us delivery dates that they have stayed with. We had one company where there was a difficulty. We asked the White House to give us a hand on that and they did. So I think we are in good shape on some of those.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you. Finally, implementation. How are you going to go about implementation of the Y2K renovations? Will it be done in-house? Will it be contracted out? Will it be a combination of the two?
Ms. GARVEY. Congressman, at this point it will be done in-house. Again, we have got the experts, the people who have worked with these systems all their professional lives. Rolling that implementation out I think we've got some of the best people in the world to do that.
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We are going to do some end-to-end testing in January and February, very similar to what Mr. Kelly had mentioned so that we can get a sense of how the end-to-end testing will go. But our experts are in-house. If we need them, I will say we won't hesitate to ask for some help and assistance, but I think we've got some resources in-house to do that.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much. I have written down on a sheet of paper those six countries available for inspection.
Ms. GARVEY. Oh I know the six countries. It's the 90 I don't know.
Mr. DUNCAN. Okay. Well, thank you very much. I was just asking, Mr. Horn, what was the grade that FAA got a few weeks ago?
Mr. HORN. Fortunately for FAA, they are part of the Department of Transportation. So we can blame Transportation for the problem.
Ms. GARVEY. We made a little progress. I called the chairman to thank him for that. He said he had a lot of faith, but he wanted it matched with some good works.
Mr. HORN. There's two ways to get to heaven, faith and good work.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you very much. We need to move onto the next panel. But you have been outstanding witnesses. Thank you for being with us today.
The next panel consists of Ms. Carol B. Hallett, who is president and CEO of the Air Transport Association, Mr. Walter S. Coleman, who is president of the Regional Airline Association, Mr. Richard C. Cullerton, who is assistant vice president for engineering of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, and Mr. Dwight W. Greenlee, who is director of airport administration for the Wichita Airport Authority.
I want to welcome all of you once again and thank you very much for being here with us. Because this is a joint committee hearing, we do have to swear in the witnesses which we ordinarily don't do in our committee, but I'll ask each of the four witnesses to please stand and raise your right hands and be sworn.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. We always proceed in the order the witnesses are listed in the call of the hearing. That means that Ms. Hallett, we'll start with you. Thank you very much for being here with us.
TESTIMONY OF CAROL B. HALLETT, PRESIDENT AND CEO, AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATIONOF AMERICA; WALTER S. COLEMAN, PRESIDENT, REGIONAL AIRLINE ASSOCIATION; RICHARD C. CULLERTON, ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT FOR ENGINEERING, METROPOLITAN WASHINGTON AIRPORTS AUTHORITY; AND DWIGHT W. GREENLEE, DIRECTOR OF AIRPORT ADMINISTRATION, WICHITA AIRPORT AUTHORITY
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Ms. HALLETT. Thank you, Chairman Duncan and Chairman Horn and Mr. Oberstar. It is a pleasure to be here with you today. I am Carol Hallett, the president and CEO of the Air Transport Association, and would ask that my remarks be made a part of the formal record.
Mr. DUNCAN. Your remarks will be made a part of the record.
Ms. HALLETT. Thank you. I am pleased to say that the aviation system will be ready and we will operate safely on January 1 of the year 2000 and beyond. Individually, each ATA airline is preparing for Y2K with internal systems that will be ready mid-1999. ATA has developed a program for airport operators and critical airline suppliers to gather information for our members and to make decisions on services needed for safe operation.
Through ATA, as well as the international ATA and the Canadian ATA, airlines have developed a program to identify the Y2K status of the 185 air traffic providers who are on a worldwide basis going to be obviously important to all of us. That is in addition to hundreds of international airports. The data that we collect will reside in an Internet data base for the use of some 300 airlines and airports so as to assure safe flight on January 1 of the year 2000.
The ATA program is in three elements. In this regard, we are making an assessment of the four U.S. Government agencies having an impact on our airlines, Customs, Immigration, APHIS, as well as the National Weather Service to ensure uninterrupted service on that date. All four agencies have been most cooperative. We believe there will be a minimal of problems. We expect no major delays.
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We are most concerned with the FAA. Our focus is of course on the air traffic control system. No plane moves on the ground or in the air without FAA approval. That is today, that is tomorrow, that's on January 1 of the year 2000. We feel confident in saying that the FAA has the Y2K problem under control and will be ready, and we have confidence in their plan and their management as expressed today by many of you about both Administrator Garvey and Ray Long. We believe they are in complete control of the program.
The FAA has been honest, open, and candid with us. We have validated for ourselves the FAA's work on the Host computer. We agree that the FAA will meet tomorrow's deadline on their Y2K renovation work. We will nevertheless have contingency plans in the event of any problems.
Airports are a major focus for us because airports and airlines operate many systems that must be evaluated for Y2K impacts. We are currently determining who has Y2K responsibility for the readiness of those systems. Incidently, we support the proposal by the FAA to free up AIP funds for Fiscal Year 1999 only for the airport Y2K programs. In the meantime, we urge Congress to be as forceful with the airports as you have been with the FAA in making Y2K their highest priority.
The ATA airline Y2K program includes visits to 156 airports for the inventory, plus we will distribute Y2K training kits that are very informative as well as comprehensive. Those will be distributed to over 2,500 airports worldwide, with some 600-plus going to airports in Canada and the United States. Suppliers are another key element. Our members identified to us over 5,000 critical commercial suppliers. We are carrying out with both mail, phone, and face-to-face interviews with them to obtain the necessary information we need. We have found them to be highly cooperative.
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On the liability and anti-trust issue, the sharing of Y2K business data is difficult due to potential lawsuits. H.R. 4240, the Y2K Liability and Anti-Trust Reform Act, would allow for the free sharing and comparing of test data. We urge the passage of this very important legislation.
H.R. 4240 will also help the industry assure the insurance underwriters that airlines and airports will be ready. Current thinking by the underwriters is that Y2K is uninsurable. We are working with the insurers to make them aware of the true nature of the Y2K risks so that insurance remains in force.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, the airlines recognized the need to tell the public what the state of the industry will be on January 1, 2000. While we're not there yet, we can say with confidence it will be safe to fly on January 1 of the year 2000. Our members will be prepared for the new millennium. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you very much, Ms. Hallett. Those are good words to hear.
Mr. COLEMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee. The Regional Airline Association appreciates the opportunity to be here today to describe the efforts of the Regional Airline Association. RAA members, which include airlines and suppliers, are participating in both individual and industry initiatives to address the issues associated with insuring that the technology dependent on software and microprocessors will function safely and efficiently in the year 2000. At the direction of the RAA board of directors, RAA staff has participated with the Federal Aviation Administration on ATC issues associated with Y2K. RAA has also been directly involved with the excellent efforts of the Air Transport Association on airport readiness. RAA members are working directly with their suppliers, with some assistance from RAA staff to confirm that their aircraft and support for the aircraft will operate safely in the year 2000.
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RAA staff participated with FAA and other ATC users as we collectively examined the FAA air traffic control system components. As the committee knows, the three categories that were categorized are equipment which is critical to safety of flight, equipment contributing to the efficiency of flight, and all other systems. RAA agrees with and supports the FAA determinations on the allocation of the resources. RAA attends and participates in the quarterly FAA Industry Day and is prepared for increased involvement with the FAA if the status of issues requires additional attention. Last week at an RAA meeting on year 2000 issues, FAA representatives briefed our members airlines on the status of their ATC plan, which was very well received. RAA will work with FAA as necessary to assist in our mutual realization of a fully implemented Y2K program on June 30, 1999.
On airports, earlier this year the Air Transport Association invited RAA to participate with them in the development of materials to provide to airports which are served by RAA members, but not served by ATA member airlines. RAA and its members accepted this very generous offer as both ATA and RAA recognized that a coordinated effort to provide assistance and resources to many of these smaller airports would be a benefit to ATA and RAA, but mostly would benefit the air traveling public. We contributed in the development of the video contained in the tool kit that Ms. Hallett demonstrated. This will be distributed to several hundred airports in the country, including those that are served by RAA member airlines.
As a point of reference, there are 703 airports in the U.S. which received scheduled airline service. Out of those 703 airports, 514 are served exclusively by regional airlines. Within the 48 States, 289 airports are served exclusively by regional carriers. The ATA initiative to provide those resources to the smaller airports is extremely praiseworthy and important to the success of this element of the Y2K preparation. Our member airlines are in the process of being advised of the delivery of the ATA developed tool kit to the airports and are prepared to assist the airports in performing their assessment of their needs to prepare for Y2K.
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Finally, aircraft and associated support equipment. RAA members have agreed that each individual supplier is responsible for advising its customers of the Y2K status of its products. These include aircraft, aircraft components, and support equipment, such as maintenance testing equipment, aircraft component tracking, systems for maintaining records for repairs and other maintenance and operations functions.
RAA staff is in the process of identifying a list to provide to members of suppliers which are providing other airlines with Y2K status assessments. The information RAA would provide to members would include the suppliers' Y2K contact and web site address, if available. This initiative is intended to expedite the communication between our members and the suppliers.
In summary, the commercial aviation industry, including airlines, airports and suppliers, recognize the crucial importance of proper preparation for the transition to the year 2000. RAA will communicate continuously with its members through meetings, mailings, and electronic communications to augment the resources of members to prepare our industry for the year 2000. We will work with FAA and with each other to ensure a safe, reliable, and efficient air transportation system through 1999 and into 2000. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Coleman.
Mr. CULLERTON. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, and members of the House Subcommittee on Aviation and Technology. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you to inform you of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's program to address the year 2000 problem.
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The Airports Authority operates Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport. Together both airports moved over 30 million passengers in the past year. Clearly unresolved Y2K problems could have a major impact in this region, travel impact. For that reason, we have established a Y2K task force to identify and address and resolve any potential Y2K impacts. The task force has representatives from each of the relevant Airports Authority offices and is supported by our information technology consultant, CACI.
Since its inception six months ago, the task force has developed a plan of action, broken the problem into manageable areas, and made significant progress. We have implemented a remediation approach based on the GAO format that encompasses the five phases that Mr. Oberstar, you had alluded to earlier, awareness, assessment, renovation, validation, and implementation.
The awareness phase has essentially been completed. The assessment phase is underway, thanks in large part to a joint undertaking with the Air Transport Association that resulted in developing an airport functional area breakdown, and an initial inventory of systems that are potentially impacted by the Y2K problem. The renovation phase, the next phase in sequence, is underway with the upgrading of our organization's personal computers and will continue with software upgrading and embedded systems upgrading. Then the validation phase will test all modifications made to both software and hardware. Finally, the implementation phase will ensure that all systems and their dependencies work properly.
We have divided the Y2K world into four areas, each of which is being worked concurrently. Those four areas are personal computers, software, embedded systems, and external interfaces. There are approximately 796 personal computers within the Airports Authority. We have tested 784 of those and have determined that 98 percent are compliant. It is safe to say that in our PC area, this will not be a problem.
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We have identified 296 Airports Authority software systems, these are non-embedded systems, of which 16 are considered critical. Most of our software systems are commercial, off-the-shelf products. We are contacting the developers of these products to determine if they are Y2K compliant. As of this month, we have received responses on 53 percent of our software systems. The responses indicate that about half were compliant and the majority of these will require an upgrade to a more current version. An initial software certification program is well underway and we will begin the process of renovating problem software.
Our embedded area involves 126 systems. These are systems that are most likely to impact the travelling public. They include such things as airfield lighting systems, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems, parking control systems, et cetera. Each embedded system is assigned a system owner, usually the person who is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the system. The system owner works closely with the Y2K task force and assists in preparing a renovation plan that lays out what has to be done to make that particular system Y2K compliant. We have currently assessed 89 systems and determined that 23 are critical. The highest risk systems will be scrutinized most closely and treated most urgently. Resources for system repair will be made accordingly.
The final area is that of external interfaces. These include providers of utilities such as electricity, gas, telecommunications and water. Other interfaces of course include the Federal Aviation Administration, airlines, fuel providers, the general aviation operators, and Metrorail. We have contacted each of these providers and will continue to coordinate to ensure that the interfaces between our organizations and theirs are compliant.
Page 127 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 The Airports Authority began its Y2K effort in October 1997. Our goal is to complete the entire remediation program by August 1, 1999. This allows a five-month period to handle any unforeseen problems. The Authority is currently budgeting $1.1 million in 1998 to cover systems upgrades and consultant support costs. The bulk of the remediation and testing will occur in 1999 and we are currently estimating a $6 million Y2K budget.
In summary, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has recognized the problem, formed and trained the task force to address it, provided consultant support and established a strategy to concurrently work both hardware and software issues. We feel confident that we can resolve the critical system issues over the next 16 months. Our objective of course is to ensure that it is business as usual at National and Dulles Airports on Saturday, January 1, year 2000.
I appreciate this opportunity to address the subcommittees, and will be pleased to answer any questions.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Cullerton.
Mr. Greenlee, over the years we have had many, many witnesses from all across the country and even other nations, but today you are the only non-local witness. We appreciate the fact that you have come all the way from Wichita to be with us today. We thank you for being here. You may begin your testimony.
Mr. GREENLEE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the committees, I am pleased to appear before you today. Wichita Airport Authority started the process of developing a plan for the year 2000 in October of 1996. The process was organized as follows: Policies and procedures were established, inventories were taken of systems, remediation plans and testing or process for that were established. Implementation and documentation is now in the process. Contingency plans have been made, and training is in the process at this point in time for those plans that require it. Insurance and legislative reviews have taken place and are continuing to take place.
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In February of 1998, the Wichita Airport Authority joined with the city of Wichita to share information and resources. This sharing process has proven cost effective, resulting in the WAA plan being an estimated 75 percent complete. Active sharing of information with other entities will assure the goal of having all airport systems fully compliant by June of 1999.
A joint meeting of airport/airline organizations was held in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the purpose of sharing information. These informational and procedural meetings should be encouraged. Recently a web site has been established which provides Y2K status and identification of products and systems. The above activity can best be coordinated through organizations such as airport operators, ourselves, Airport Council International and North America, American Association of Airport Executives, the Federal Aviation Administration, Airline Transport Association, product manufacturers, and vendors, and not to forget consultants also.
Legislative and financial assistance is needed in attaining the goal of assuring airport business activities continue on interrupted through the year 2000 and beyond. Funding vehicles such as airport improvement programs and passenger facility charges are in place. However, the procurement process is slow. The funding and purchase of Y2K replacement and remedial systems needs to be expedited. It is our desire to avoid the necessity to fall back on insurance and legislative protections to preserve assets. The budget for Y2K activities at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport is now estimated to be $250,000. This is over and above an $800,000 expenditure for planned replacement of Legacy systems. Your assistance is needed to assure legislative and financial resources will be available as required. Thank you.
Page 129 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Greenlee.
I am going to go first for questions to Mr. Oberstar.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank all four of our panelists for very thoughtful and comprehensive presentation of the issues as it affects each of your areas. Ms. Hallett and Mr. Coleman have been before our committee many times. We always appreciate your contribution. Mr. Cullerton I know from the Washington Airports Authority, how diligent you have been in addressing these issues. I share in Chairman Duncan's welcome of Mr. Greenlee. It is always a delight to have people come from beyond the beltway, bring us the word from the heartland of America out there in Wichita and elsewhere.
Mr. Greenlee, I mentioned earlier the AAAE sent out to all of its members a survey of airports on the Y2K problem. Did you see that survey?
Mr. GREENLEE. Yes, sir. I believe I did.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Did you find it useful?
Mr. GREENLEE. Somewhat. We are inundated with questionnaires. AAAE is one of those organizations that we respond to on a regular and continuous basis. I think that those kinds of questionnaires are helpful. They do give us insight into areas we need to be looking into. We appreciate all the help we can get.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Did AAAE have, after the survey was completed, did they come back and help individual airports address the major problem areas identified in that survey?
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Mr. GREENLEE. AAAE has a broadcast system via network and ANTN. Several of the results from the survey have been published and procedures for dealing with those have appeared on ANTN.
Mr. OBERSTAR. You cited utilities, security environment, and airfield related safety systems. Such areas as baggage control, airport access control systems, airport services such as elevators, escalators, moving sidewalks are also problem areas. Do you found Y2K problems in those areas?
Mr. GREENLEE. We have found certain Y2K problems in the area of security. We are moving to remediate those things at this point in time. Our elevator systems and our baggage claim systems are non-impacted by this type of problem.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Are those what Mr. Cullerton described as embedded systems?
Mr. CULLERTON. Yes, sir. Most certainly. That is the 126, all of those that you just mentioned are included in our embedded list. We are just beginning to get our hands around that. We did as a pilot, we looked at our airfield lighting system because clearly we recognize that as one of the most critical systems on the airport. We did find that the 486 computers that the operations and maintenance folks used at both Dulles and National were not Y2K compliant. We have a procurement in now to purchase upgraded computers to drive those systems.
Page 131 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Mr. OBERSTAR. Do you have to replace those systems?
Mr. CULLERTON. We are going to replace those. Yes, sir. It is not a very big expense, frankly. It is three units at Dulles and three units at National. I think we are going to get a lower grade. We don't need to upgrade to the Authority standard computer because it has such a limited use. We expect those to be at most in the $10,000 to $15,000 range total for those six units.
Mr. OBERSTAR. What about security services where you have control to the air side of airports? Do either of you have a comment on problems in that arena?
Mr. GREENLEE. Our primary problem in that area is in the identification system, the badging process that takes place within our entire network security systems. Like I say, the manufacturer of that original product is working currently with our people to assure that we will be up and ready to run in the year 2000.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I was very pleased to hear Ms. Hallett and Mr. Coleman both support your request for use of AIP funds on a one-shot basis, which I would concur with, to finance smaller airports compliance requirements. You certainly don't have the resources that a major airport would have in dealing with that problem. I hope we can work something out in that arena.
Ms. Hallett, it's so good to hear praise for FAA when so many times you are at opposite ends of issues. But you give them a clean bill of health for working cooperatively. I want to commend you and the leadership that you have taken within the Air Transport Association, getting the members to face up to their responsibilities and their problems. If I recall rightly, Delta has hired or assembled within its organization over 400 people to address their Y2K problem and got started on it in a very early stage. Boeing has recognized that they have problems and have attempted to assemble specialists within the manufacturing arena to address the issue. You have been the spark and have moved out quickly to address that matter.
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As a former Customs administrator, how would you rate the compliance of your former agency?
Ms. HALLETT. Well, Mr. Oberstar, we really have been very pleased with the work being done by all of the agencies that I mentioned. Obviously the National Weather Service today I think is exemplary in what they have done, but Customs is of course responsible, along with APHIS and Immigration, for making sure that the processing of goods as well as passengers will be done expeditiously. We have had excellent cooperation from them. They are also focusing very seriously on the issue. We do not anticipate problems at this time.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Customs is very important. They generate $9 to $10 billion in revenue for the Federal Government every year.
Ms. HALLETT. About $20 billion.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Is it that much now?
Ms. HALLETT. Yes.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Oh goodness. I'm behind the times.
Ms. HALLETT. It was actually $20 billion when I was there, so it should be more now.
Page 133 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Mr. OBERSTAR. I'm behind the times on that figure. But it's impressive.
Finally, Walt, when you cite 514 airports served exclusively by regional carriers, that is a very powerful economic sector. We are glad that you are on top of the issue with your member carriers.
Mr. COLEMAN. Thank you. Well, a lot of those of course are in Alaska, but 289 in the lower 48. It really means that three-fifths of the communities in the lower 48 are dependent on regional carriers to get into the air transportation system. So it is an important element.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Ask those who were affected by the Northwest Airlines.
Mr. COLEMAN. We didn't have to ask them.
Mr. OBERSTAR. They were screaming?
Mr. COLEMAN. Yes.
Mr. OBERSTAR. So Y2K may be a problem, but a strike is a whole lot bigger problem.
Thank you very much. I appreciate the presentation by all of you.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. HORN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I have enjoyed reading the testimony of all of you and hearing it as well. I thank you for coming.
I am going to start with Ms. Hallett. This will be a background point, and then I have got about four questions to ask, so you know where we are going.
You stated in your testimony that 81 airports you have reviewed, only 20 are on schedule according to their Y2K plans. Sixty one airports are behind schedule or have no plan at all. Obviously that's a disturbing comment when we have not too much time to go.
So my first question is, have you or your staff noticed common characteristics between airports that are on target versus the ones that do not have a plan at all?
Ms. HALLETT. Well, Mr. Chairman, one thing that we have discovered is that the amount of support received not only from the Congress in terms of encouraging the work to be done has had a direct impact on airports that might not otherwise have focused on Y2K. But I have to tell you that overall, not only here in the United States but around the world, there are some airports that do not feel the problem is as important as others do. That is one of the reasons I made the comment in my remarks today that we hope that the Congress and these committees specifically will emphasize in every possible way the importance of getting this job done. We think that hearing from you as well as the FAA is going to have the most important impact on getting everyone ready by the year 2000.
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Mr. HORN. In terms of those common characteristics, let me give you an example. Do airports in particular regions, are they farther along in that region than are airports in another region? Is this a regional thing where they don't really comply, and I don't want to say more sophisticated regions, but I don't know any other word for it.
Ms. HALLETT. Yes. In actuality, a good example, I might have had more information for you today on the New Orleans/Mobile area. They were scheduled for our first visit today and yesterday. Last week we were to go to Key West. We got there and we got out just as they were nailing up the boards on the windows of the airport. They were doing quite well. So there is no consistency as to which ones are on schedule. As my testimony points out, of the 81, 20 of those airports are on schedule. Sixty one, as you mentioned, are behind. But they are all over the map. Some are big, some are small. There is no consistency, to answer your question.
Mr. HORN. You might want to file just a brief letter on what happened at New Orleans today.
Ms. HALLETT. We are still waiting.
Mr. HORN. I think, Mr. Chairman, if we can just have that letter in the record here, this will be fine.
[The information follows:]
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Mr. HORN. For the airports that are behind schedule, what are some of the problems or challenges that they are facing that keep them from meeting the deadlines? What do you see there?
Ms. HALLETT. Well, some of it is motivation. Some of it is financial. It's one of the reasons that we have publicly supported the use of AIP money only in 1999 for this purpose, but we would also support the streamlining that is necessary to get this going. So those are probably the two most significant reasons for slowness. Again, we have gone to some areas and I don't mean to sound corny, but some are embarrassed to say that they have not gotten their plan put together. They have asked us to come back later. We have had some cancellations literally the day before or the week before we were to reach that particular airport, simply because they were not ready. They did not want us to see how far behind they were. In some instances, we have now been to those airports and were pleased with their progress.
So it is a matter of a comfort level with some, just as much as it would be with others making sure that they have the financial support to get the job done.
Mr. HORN. As I understand the answer the administrator gave when I asked Mr. Greenlee these questions, was a positive one. That she did want to streamline the process and speed it up. So we didn't get back to the insurance issue. Does ATA have any feelings on the insurance situation and how that's coming, and have they played in a role in this?
Ms. HALLETT. Well, we have had meetings with the insurance industry. As I mentioned, H.R. 4240 is going to be very important to the overall insurance perspective because with that legislation, they will have a far higher level of security as to knowing that the work will be done. In our case, I think it is going to be important for the Congress as well as ourselves to continue to push in that area as well.
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But without that legislation, I think we are going to be in much greater danger of not getting everything we need from them, particularly informationally.
Mr. HORN. You mentioned that ATA is visiting some of these airports. What other services are you providing to the struggling ones that really haven't quite conformed yet?
Ms. HALLETT. Well, first of all, we do not provide a service. We are, however, providing as I pointed out, not only the kit, but we are also going through a very specific list of things that they need to do. We have not only the training modules that they will be able to utilize that are in the kit. We are certainly sharing all of the data that we are gathering. That is being shared with every airport that we are participating with.
I might point out that in the United States, of those 5,000 public use airports, there are some 700 commercial service airports. We will be either visiting or in touch with each one of those 700 commercial service airports. They will all receive the kit. Of course many others besides those 700 will receive the kits. But every single airport that is served by a major national or a regional certificated airline will be visited, either by the regional airlines or ourselves and our teams or they will receive the questionnaires. All of that data can and will make them completely whole and they will be ready for the year 2000 if they have followed through on meeting all of the requirements that we have provided for them.
Mr. HORN. Is there anything that the FAA can do to ensure that the airports as well as the airlines and suppliers are compliant?
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Ms. HALLETT. Absolutely, Chairman Horn. The FAA not only can bring great pressure, but they also have the ability to certify or decertify an airport as to whether or not they will be able to receive and have planes coming and going on not only the first of January, but before and after. Just as is true with us.
I mentioned this morning that we can not move a plane on the ground or in the air without it being certified as well as approved by Federal Government regulation under the FAA. The same is true of airports. We really fall under not only very strict and strenuous rules and regulations, but in order to continue to operate, we must meet those requirements. That is why not only the administrator, but we agree. The administrator does not have to send a team to certify every airplane or every airport because they are doing it on a regular basis, on spot inspections as well as other kinds of inspections that are regular and they are expected on a regular basis. We just have to make sure that this all continues.
Mr. HORN. Mr. Chairman, I have got two or three remaining questions, but I know you might well want to get yours in now. Whatever you would like.
Mr. DUNCAN. I have got some questions I want to ask, but you go ahead.
Mr. HORN. Well, the embedded chip that was brought up I think on all panels, and I am curious how the airports and airlines, but particularly the airports now are handling it. What we learned when we were having a hearing in Cleveland in the recess was that the medical community is doing a pretty good job of one, looking at what equipment they have that have embedded chips, going to the manufacturer to see what can be done about, and then putting that base data on a common computer web site that hospitals all over America could tap into. I just wondered if the airports are doing anything like that so not every airport has to reinvent the wheel.
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If you have got a certain type of light on the field, I think that was mentioned, and different parking, security things, can we get one answer and everybody access that rather than having hundreds of airports have to go back to the manufacturers. Has anything like that been set up? I'll yield to any of you.
Mr. CULLERTON. One thing that we have just done is we have brought on a firm called CTA to be a subconsultant to CACI, whom we have had with us for a number of years. They have a remediation facility out in California where they have apparently over the last year or so developed a number of contracts with a wide variety of airports. So they have begun to build a data base. This is just one firm's data base, but it has been fairly widespread in lots of different systems, landside systems, terminal systems, airfield systems, et cetera. So they are helping us now out of Dulles. They will shift to National soon to actually evaluate these systems, identify all of the microprocessors in a particular system. Then once we have accomplished all of that, and we hope to do that in the next 30 days, we will be able to query now that we have them on as subcontractors, their data base.
That is not a complete answer to your question, but that is what one firm has been doing. I think that will be very useful to us. That will then prevent us or at least allow us not to have to go out to maybe 126 vendors and find out what they are doing, as maybe all of the other 700 airports might be doing at the same time. As you heard earlier, we are all being inundated with lots of surveys. Somebody is not going to get the answer if we do it that way. So we are using that resource right now. That is our intention.
Mr. HORN. Now, Mr. Cullerton, as I heard your testimony, you would complete remediation by August of 1999. Is that accurate?
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Mr. CULLERTON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HORN. Do you plan to do an operational test as opposed to a laboratory test to make sure that this works right?
Mr. CULLERTON. On critical systems we do. We plan to do that.
Mr. HORN. So when are those tests likely to be performed if you are going to make it by August of 1999?
Mr. CULLERTON. We haven't yet scheduled the test, Mr. Horn. I could get back to you on that if that's
Mr. HORN. Just put it in the record if you'd like. We're just curious to the time that it takes.
Mr. CULLERTON. The testing phase is what we also call the validation phase under the GAO format. That phase is beginning, it's in my paper that was submitted here, I believe it begins, if you'll allow me just a moment I can tell you exactly. We are looking at it beginning in the late October/November time frame and extending through July.
Mr. HORN. That's late October in 1998 and extending it to July 1999?
Page 141 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Mr. CULLERTON. Of 1999. Yes, sir.
Mr. HORN. Okay. The reason I ask that is you'll recall that the FAA had a little problem with radar about a year ago, thought they had it all fixed up in the laboratory. It wasn't in an operational context. When they went back to the towers or whatever, it just didn't work. Then they had to face up to why isn't it working. So you are saying you think that you have that pretty much under control then with the type of testing you plan.
Mr. CULLERTON. We do. We think that that is a valid approach in our world.
Mr. HORN. Good. Well, I thank you and I thank the chairman for the extra time.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Horn. I don't think there is anybody in the Congress who has done more to call the attention of the American people to the Y2K problem than you. I know on our August recess you held hearings I think in Indianapolis and several other places. I appreciate the work that you have done. I have discussed it with you a few times. I, for some strange reason, have been fascinated by this problem and still am, but I guess maybe it's my naivete or something, but I feel like we're going to come up with a solution for most of these problems, but it is something that we need to talk about and work on.
Ms. Hallett, the part of your testimony that jumped out at me was also what Mr. Horn was talking about. The fact that you said 35 percent of these airports that you surveyed had no Y2K plan or program set up. I would assume those 81 airports were mostly larger type airports? Were they? And do those airports, are they now getting programs in place? You mean they had done no work whatsoever? Is that what you mean?
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Ms. HALLETT. That is correct, Mr. Chairman. Twenty eight airports, in other words, 35 percent of the 81 have indicated that they have no plan, no formal plan at this time. I think you have probably noticed in the back of my testimony, not only do we have a copy of all of the information that we are asking for and who is responsible for it, we also go through all of the airports that will be contacted.
Specifically to answer your question, it has not been just the large airports. This is across the board and will continue to be. That is one of the reasons that I emphasize again, it is so important for the Congress as well as the FAA to be as forceful as possible in making sure that not only funding is available, but also that the motivation is there for the airports.
You know, we can fly into an airport in VFR weather without necessarily having the ATC program completely operational with a tower operating on the field in some cases. It could be with a regional airline, it could be with another airline as long as they have been able to communicate by radio. However, that is if it is perfect conditions, it's VFR. We can also go into an airport if there is no fuel if we are able to move a tanker to that airport and have the fuel there. But we have to have airports with a plan certified that those functional things will be operating.
Now some of the things on an airport are owned and operated by the airlines. It could be the jetway, for an example. On an airport it may be that in one case the airlines owns and operates a particular piece of equipment, in another airport it may be owned and operated by the airport. All of that will be determined not only in our assessment, but we will then be prepared to notify our members and all of those who are participating which airports will be ready, what is not going to be ready on that airport, so then the airline will be able to make the assessment as to whether or not it is safe to fly into that airport. That is why it is so essential that they really get with it.
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Mr. DUNCAN. I think I heard you or somebody say that you sent those kits to 703 airports or something like that?
Ms. HALLETT. Well, no. It will go to far more than that. Actually it is going to some 2,500, but 600 in the U.S. and Canada alone.
Mr. DUNCAN. I see. When? You say it will be going to 2,500?
Ms. HALLETT. They have just been completed. They are on their way literally as we speak.
Mr. DUNCAN. I was going to ask.
Ms. HALLETT. However, that is not necessary for the airports that we are already communicating with. They are already receiving the questionnaires. They already have the data in advance. This is what will help them.
Mr. DUNCAN. What is in the kit there? There is a video?
Ms. HALLETT. Sure. Not only is there a video, but we also have in here a CD Rom. Here we go. The CD Rom is one very important part of this because that will give them all of the specifics on exactly what they need to do. It is all computer-based training that's on the CD Rom. Then we have the video that both Mr. Coleman and I, as well as Mr. Plaven of ACI, the president of ACI, participated in. But it also goes through a great deal of instruction as to how to come up with the inventory information that is needed, the inventory workbook which is in here, and this is reallythere is nothing that an airport will be missing in this inventory book. The glossary has both the worksheets and it has everything that an airport needs to complete their inventory, to be able to report back to us as well as the FAA and to every airline what is done, what needs to be done. It is really an incredible tool that has been put together for these airports.
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Mr. DUNCAN. I am glad thatI mean so many of the articles you read about this problem give these warnings or these dire predications, or as Mr. Kucinich called it, speculation. But I have noticed that a lot of these articles don't tell you what to do. I am pleased that most of what you are sending seems to be information about what needs to be done rather than just a warning that this is a terrible problem, you know, and leaving it up to individual airports to determine what to do.
And you are going to follow up these kits?
Ms. HALLETT. Oh absolutely. We'll be talking to all of these airports that receive the kits. Mr. Chairman, I have to point out, this is really a cooperative effort. While the ATA was really in the leadership role of getting this going both here in the United States as well as internationally, this is not something that anyone is taking credit for. We all take credit if we get it done, but we all are responsible if we don't get it done.
The one thing that the airline industry can guarantee, they do not fly if it is not safe. The safety of our passengers and our crews are our number one priority. That is why we are going to make sure that every airport we fly to is able to meet the safety level.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you very much. I think that's a great thing that you are doing.
Mr. Coleman, I understand that your association has been working with the ATA on this. Do you know, are there any airlines that aren't working on this Y2K problem right now or are not taking it seriously? I mean I assume that you can assure us that even the smallest airlines are doing everything they can to solve the problem as it relates to them.
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Mr. COLEMAN. I think they all have great respect for what the ramifications would be if they weren't in compliance. I don't know what every airline's plan is. Certainly the ones that are wholly owned, there are about 10 wholly owned by the majors, have that resource for them. We had a meeting the other day, we had about 20 airlines there. I think that the report of that meeting will help some of the others understand the nature and scope of the program.
Some of the very small airlines, just like the small airports, they have fewer issues, they may be just as crucial, but they have fewer systems they have to be concerned with. But I am confident, particularly because of the press that the FAA is getting about their attention to the ATC issues, that there is a continuing growing awareness of each person in the system has to work towards their own objective. I think we'll get where we will have to be.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Cullerton, you said that almost all of your PCs have checked out okay, but you said that was it 53 percent of where you have an embedded chip problem or situation, is that?
Mr. CULLERTON. Let me correct that, Mr. Chairman. Fifty three percent of our non-embedded software. We have software that are
Mr. DUNCAN. Fifty three percent of the non-embedded?
Mr. CULLERTON. Right. Our financial system, our personnel system, our retirement systems, those sorts of things that are in our corporate headquarters, if you will.
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Mr. DUNCAN. So that was the non-embedded.
Mr. CULLERTON. Yes, sir. Non-embedded. And what we found was 53 percent of those, I think it's 158 to be exact that we have gotten responses back, half of those, 79 of those were non-compliant. So we are going to need to upgrade a significant number of those non-compliant systems, either with new purchases, software, that sort of approach.
Mr. DUNCAN. How are you affected by the embedded chips?
Mr. CULLERTON. The embedded chips, I must be honest, lags behind. We have got a lot more progress in testing our PCs which were sitting on top of your desk and easy to access and easy to test and our software systems which were easy to get our hands around, our non-embedded software.
The embedded software systems are much more difficult. That's why we have a team out at Dulles right now, going through every building, every machine room with every building, trying to find every microprocessor that belongs to a particular system and then categorizing it. Once we have completed that survey, then we are going to try to assess this assessment center or contact this assessment center that CTA has to determine whether those units are compliant or not.
What I can tell you is that of the 126 of those different systems, ranging across the board, elevator, escalator, we have even included our mobile lounges, our plane-mates that move you from the terminal out to the concourses, our crash fire rescue equipment, our snow removal equipment. We have gone that far that we have assessed 89 of those. We found 23 of those to be critical. So those are going to pop to the top of our list and those are the ones we are going to be working over the next few months.
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Mr. DUNCAN. You say 23 of those are critical.
Mr. CULLERTON. Yes, sir.
Mr. DUNCAN. What is the status of those 23 most critical at this point? I mean to a non-technical person like me, there is a lot of this that I don't understand. I am wondering can you describe for me in layman's terms how big a task this is or how difficult this is and what all you have to do?
Mr. CULLERTON. The way this airport authority, owning the two airports, has attacked it is towe have 12 vice presidential areas within our organization. Each vice president was tasked by our chief operating officer, Mr. James Bennett, to appoint a Y2K coordinator that formed an ad hoc task force that he has appointed me to be in charge of. So I have a person responsible for each of the 12 areas.
Under them, and particularly the people that are responsible for the National Airport operations, the Dulles Airport operation and our Office of Public Safety, which houses all of our police, fire resources, they have formed an organization that support them. Ultimately, it gets down to the foreman or the journeyman who might be responsible for the heating, ventilating and air conditioning control found in the boiler chiller plant at National Airport. He then becomes a part of our team and becomes what we call a system owner. The task force supported by the CACI folks that are behind me will then be working with him.
We have developed a questionnaire. We have gotten 89 of those questionnaires back that ask for a myriad of information about that system, so that we can then put that into a data base and be able to track and identify all the components of that system and ultimately after we have queried the vendor or used the remediation center that CTA has out in California, make an up or down determination as to whether that system is compliant or not. If we do get a determination that it is compliant but it's a critical system, we're still going to test it because it is important enough to us to do that. So we are going to develop, we are going to apply resources to that testing.
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Mr. DUNCAN. So do you feel pretty good about where you are now at this stage?
Mr. CULLERTON. If you had asked me that question four months ago, I would have said absolutely not. Today we feel very good. I think we have got our hands around it. We have broken it up into those four pieces, the PC piece, the non-embedded software piece, the embedded software piece, and the external interface, and we're working those four concurrently. If we can solve each of those sub-areas as we march along here into 1999, I think we will have the two airport systems will function as we expect them to function on January 1.
Mr. DUNCAN. The biggest problem seems to be that from what I have heard here today and from what I have read is that even if a company does everything within its power, it's still got the problem and an even bigger problem of making sure that all of the suppliers and vendors
Mr. CULLERTON. That is absolutely true.
Mr. DUNCAN. Because even the smallest business deals with so many different
Mr. CULLERTON. A class example is if we do everything right and the airlines do everything right and FAA does everything right, but if Pepco has a power outage, we buy all of our commercial power for both airports from Pepco. Now we have stand-alone emergency generators that can get us by for hours and in some cases maybe days at a diminished level of service, but that can't go on for a very long time.
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Mr. DUNCAN. How long could it go on? I mean I'll tell you, that seems to me to be a pretty big concern about the power and the utilities.
Mr. CULLERTON. At National, because as you are well aware I'm sure, we have upgraded and we have the new terminal there, one of the components of the Capitol Development Program was to include an emergency generation capability, so that we can provide about 80 percent of what we have for an extended period of time at National. We don't have that same opportunity at Dulles. We have two 550 kilowatt white generators which we are having our program to upgrade to double their capacity eventually, but that won't be on-line by the time the Y2K problems hits us. That system will basically only handle what we call the essential load, basically the airfield lighting system, some interior lighting within the building so that you could exit and enter appropriately. But that would be a very diminished level of service if we got into that situation.
Mr. DUNCAN. What about you, Mr. Greenlee? What about Wichita? What if the power went out for a few weeks, let's say?
Mr. GREENLEE. We are dependent upon in our terminal building area we are dependent upon two gas fired generators. We are in the process right now of upgrading those generators. In our airfield system, likewise, we have two generators, one that could run the airfield at approximately 80 percent capacity as far as lighting is concerned indefinitely. It's gas powered. The other one, which is a diesel powered generator, can also run the airfield at approximately 70 percent capacity. So we are dependent upon those. Those are some of our mission-critical items that we have checked and re-checked and continue to check as far as embedded chips.
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The testing has to be continuous as people come in and do maintenance on these items and those types of things. We have to go back and make sure that what they replaced are repaired the item with is compliant with the year 2000 procedures. Of course we have tried to tie all of our vendors to contract clauses that simply say that they will not do anything that isn't year 2000, but still it doesn't relieve us from the obligation of making sure that what they are doing is compliant. It is a continuous effort.
Mr. DUNCAN. I mentioned in my opening statement, I am pretty sure it was in U.S. News and World Report that I read that the Federal Reserve system was going to print $50 billion extra over what they usually print because they feel so many people are going to go down two or three months in advance and start withdrawing some extra cash to tie them over and all of that. Are you going to take some unusual or extra precautions just prior to the year 2000 arriving or is that something that you will have to decide at a later point as we get closer to it?
Mr. GREENLEE. I think in our contingency plans in almost every area, security as well as making sure the lights are working or at least working to the extent that is necessary to provide for the safety and welfare of our users. Those contingency plans, say if that doesn't work, what are we going to do, and who do we have to rely on to do those things, and what level of training do they need. I mentioned earlier that we are in the process right now of actually training people.
Approximately 15 years ago, we had a tragedy in that our air conditioning for our terminal building, all systems went down on us. It was necessary to start writing tickets, for the airlines to start writing tickets, because their computers didn't work, by hand. They actually had to call back retired individuals who still knew how to do that type of thing and find forms and pieces of paper for them to use to do it. Those are the kinds of contingency planning operations that we are undertaking to make sure that things work.
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Mr. DUNCAN. How are you doing out there in Wichita? How many passengers do you have each year now?
Mr. GREENLEE. We are right at 715,000 in-plane passengers per year. So we are a small hub airport.
Mr. DUNCAN. Are you having trouble getting service in there? We have gotten into that several times on the problems of the smaller and medium-sized cities of getting service.
Mr. GREENLEE. We are very lucky in regards that we have a significant number of airlines. Today I think it's maybe 11 airlines serve our community.
Mr. DUNCAN. That's great.
Mr. GREENLEE. It's the price we have to pay that we're concerned with. So we are very lucky in that we have service. We have an adequate amount of service. But we do have to pay an extraordinary large price tag to fly from here to Wichita and back.
Ms. HALLETT. Of course, Mr. Chairman
Mr. DUNCAN. Yes, go ahead.
Page 152 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 5 Ms. HALLETT. I was just going to say, Mr. Chairman, if they bought a 21-day or a 7-day ticket, it would be very inexpensive. It's all those businessmen and women who need to buy their tickets the day before they fly that do pay the premium because we have to save so many seats just for the last minute purchasers.
But, Mr. Chairman, I wanted to just not only comment on the unbelievable work that MWAA has done. We did our two tests as we launched this program at National and Dulles. It was one of the best experiences we have ever had because not only were they so cooperative, but we were able to work together to develop this program. When you are starting something new, you need a guinea pig. This is one of those exceptional cases where there were really very few problems all in all. We learned together and we were able to put together not only our inventory, but everything else that's going out into the field based on the two tests that we did at these airports. So I think that is important.
But I also just wanted to mention with respect to the issue of the embedded chips. We are working with suppliers to identify not only the embedded chips at airports, but also in the airline system. A good example, we have not only 5,000 suppliers on our list with whom we are working, but we have meetings on the 15th of October with the communications industry to determine just where we are going from here, how we will do our end-to-end testing. So while there may be something that we have overlooked, we do not believe that is the case. It is just a matter of everyone being ready on time. Our airlines expect to be ready, completely ready, with testing done by mid-1999.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, that's good to hear. I'll tell you what, this morning I spoke to an NTSB symposium and I didn't have any breakfast. I haven't had any lunch. I should do that more often, but I am going to go get me something real fattening to eat.
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Before I go, I am going to let Mr. Horn, I think has one more question.
Mr. HORN. I have been the same way in the food department.
Well, one, I congratulate you because you put your finger on one of the key problems nationally, which is the power supply. We have tried to get answers out of some people. They are a little nervous. Their lawyers tell them don't say anything. I hope this legislation that you and I and everybody else are talking about will go through and solve some of that, free up some voices.
But what I am fascinated by is the lighting at the airports. Now I happen to go almost every week between Los Angeles, LAX and Dulles International Airport. When you tell me that they really don't have any generators out there, I am reminded that when I first went to China in 1981, the lights on the airfield went on when you were about 1,000 feet from touchdown, because hopefully you were at the right airport, that was number one. You weren't quite sure where you brought it in. But my query is, could we bring in people by instrument landing and get by on that if you didn't have any lights on the field? Could we land them by instruments?
Mr. CULLERTON. No.
Mr. COLEMAN. The Federal aviation regulations require that you have lighting for your cues. So it is part of a precision landing system.
Mr. CULLERTON. That's correct. To make sure it's clear, we do have emergency generators at both airports that will handle the airfield lighting system. The difference is that at National the emergency system will handle a lot more. At Dulles it will handle a little less more. But that is a critical part of what we determine to be the essential load. So the two generators that we have in our utility building at Dulles, and we test this usually on a monthly basis, we drop the two incoming feeds and allow it to spool up and take the essential lighting load just to test it, usually at a midnight hour. It works. So you should not have to worry about that issue at our two airports.
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Mr. HORN. Okay. I feel a little bit better. I just wondered on that because I know planes have landed on instruments and been perfect landing, but I realize there's a few other things.
Mr. CULLERTON. It is not in accordance with regulations. Under maybe emergency conditions you can do that if there is a moon condition out where you have a lot of ambient light that you can see what you are doing, I suppose you could do that, but it's not in accordance with the normal regulations.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to say that thanks to Ms. Hallett and her program manager, Tom Brown, they really kicked us off into this program back in I think the January/February time frame, and provided sort of the framework for our two airports to look at this problem. So we are very appreciative of that effort. I know that's been exported to the top 156 airports in the country. So that was a very good move on their part.
Mr. HORN. Any time you want me to read the staff into the recordwe have a tradition in the Government Management Subcommittee that we recognize the staff. So we have tried to put it all together here, those that have been involved. We'll start with my own committee. J. Russell George, staff director and chief counsel; Matthew Ebert, the clerk; Megen Davis, who is right behind me, is a GAO detailee and professional staff member on loan, so we get all of their knowledge too. And Mason Alinger, our staff assistant for the administrative side of the subcommittee.
With the minority, we have Brian Cohen, professional staff member for the Democratic minority on the committee. We have Jean Gosa, who is minority clerk. Our faithful court reporter, I might mention now if she hasn't just given up, and that's Sarah Swanson. This has been a long hearing, Sarah. Thank you for staying through it.
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Jimmy Miller on Transportation, director of Transportation. Donna McLean, right next to the chairman, who is counsel and professional staff member. Then we have Adam Tsao, Mary Beth Will, Tricia Loveland, John Glaser, Kevin Sard, Cheryl McCullough, all professional staff members for the Committee of Transportation. And then Jeff Grove and Mike Bell and Ben Wu, all professional staff and counsel for the Subcommittee on Technology of the House Committee on Science.
So we thank you all for all you have done to make this a successful hearing.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Horn. As that list points out, a lot of people have to be involved to have a successful hearing. My dad said many years ago, he said, everything looks easy from a distance. That is really the truth on most things.
So we thank you very much for being with us. You have been an outstanding panel. That will conclude this hearing.
[Whereupon, at 1:37 p.m., the committees were adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.]
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