Ministers unsure how much Y2K preparations cost

October 10, 2009 at 2:06 pm Leave a comment

y2k
A government minister has declined to put a figure on how much public money was spent before the year 2000 to prevent problems attributable to the millennium bug in the public sector.

The so-called ‘Y2K bug’ threatened to freeze computer systems as it was feared that they would break down when the “…97, 98, 99, 00…” number sequence would cause them to “reset”.

Companies and organisations checked, fixed, and upgraded their computer systems at huge cost. In the event there were no significant computer failures.

The BBC reported on January 1, 2000: “Despite entering the year 2000 more dependent on computers than ever before, humanity witnessed no nuclear power plants melting down, no aeroplanes crashing from the sky, and electricity, water, transport and financial systems around the world continued to work normally.

“The remarkable lack of problems amazed even those who were confident of a successful date rollover into the new millennium. “I would say I’m pleasantly surprised,” said US Y2K trouble-shooter, John Koskinen.

“The global preparations for the millennium bug are estimated to have cost between $300 and $600bn and already questions have been asked as to whether this was necessary.”

In a written answer Tory MP Peter Lilley asked:

“How much was spent from the public purse on steps to (a) encourage UK businesses to prepare for the millennium date change and (b) prevent problems attributable to the millennium bug in the public sector.”

Cabinet office minister Tessa Jowell said:

“The detailed information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.”

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