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GAO Report of Utilities' Y2K Readiness Attacked

GAO Report of Utilities' Y2K Readiness Attacked

A new General Accounting Office (GA0) report concluding that the electric utilities are lagging behind on Y2K readiness came under fire in industry circles for being based on data that was six months old. The GAO report, which was released last Friday, followed a Senate study of the issue that industry critics contend also was founded on out-dated, faulty information.

"First the Senate (at the end of February) and now the GAO have gotten lazy. They're using old information. It's completely irresponsible. They should have gone directly to NERC (the North American Electricity Reliability Council) to find out what is going to be published in the next NERC report, which shows that the industry is more than 75% tested, inspected and ready to go" with its computers to ensure a smooth transition to Jan. 1, 2000, said John Castagna, a spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) in Washington.

The next NERC report is due out in a few weeks, and will reveal that the majority of the utility industry's "critical systems that are important to providing electric services have been inventoried, tested and fixed where needed," he noted, adding that the industry has committed itself to being 100% Y2K ready by the end of June.

The GAO report was culled from information in a NERC survey that was released last November, which found that only 44% of electric utilities at that time had completed testing and fixing of their computers. Based on the six-month-old data, the GAO - the watchdog arm of Congress - concluded in its review that electric utilities face "significant risks" in achieving Y2K readiness by the end of the year. Castagna criticized the GAO for making little or no effort to obtain information on the progress of the utility industry's Y2K readiness efforts since last November.

This was "even worse" than the Senate report on the Y2K preparedness of the electric utility industry, which based its distressing conclusions on information dating back to December, he told NGI.

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