Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
On February 13, 1996, Sen. Moynihan asked the Congressional Research Service (CRS) to study and produce a report on the implications of the "year 2000 problem." (Y2K) "As Ranking Minority Member on the Senate Finance Committee, I am concerned about how the problem will affect these agencies [Treasury and Social Security] as well as other government and private computers," Sen. Moynihan said. "I have accordingly asked the Congressional Research Service to report on the costs of the year 2000 problem and on the status of efforts to deal with it."
On June 7, 1996, CRS completed its Y2K report. After reviewing the report, Sen. Moynihan said, "CRS reports that the year 2000 problem is indeed serious, and that fixing it will be costly and time-consuming. The problem deserves the careful and coordinated attention of the Federal Government, as well as the private sector, in order to avert major disruptions on January 1, 2000."
On July 31, 1996 , Sen. Moynihan sent a letter to President Clinton expressing his views and concerns about Y2K. The Senator warned the president of "a problem which could have extreme negative economic consequences during your second term: The Year 2000 Time Bomb." He suggested that "a presidential aide should be appointed to take responsibility for assuring that all Federal Agencies, including the military, be Y2K compliant by January 1, 1999 [leaving a year for testing] and that all commercial and industrial firms doing business with the Federal Government must also be compliant by that date."
On September 25, 1996 , Sen. Moynihan introduced S. 2131, "A bill to establish a bipartisan national commission on the year 2000 computer problem" to investigate the problem and suggest remedies for the Federal Government.
On January 21, 1997, unsatisfied with the progress of the Federal Government on Y2K, Sen. Moynihan introduced S. 22. As of 3/1/98, S. 22 has 20 Senate Cosponsors and has been endorsed by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The bill would set up a commission that would act as a task force, and take responsibility for addressing the year 2000 problem in the Federal Agencies. Throughout 1997, the senator gave regular statements warning of the grave consequences of not addressing Y2K, and the need for a task force and/or a "czar" to ensure that Federal Agencies become compliant.
In January 1998, Sen. Moynihan announced his intention to amend S. 22 to change the name of the commission to a "Task Force" with a "Director (Czar)" that would take full responsibility for ensuring compliance of Federal Agencies.
On February 4, 1998, President Clinton signed an Executive Order to create a Presidential Council on Y2K. The council mirrors the Commission that would have been created by Senator Moynihan's bill, S. 22. Presidential spokesman Mike McCurry stated: "It was from Senator Moynihan that I first became aware of this problem ... And if I am not mistaken, he wrote the President two years ago and suggested that there be someone here at the White House who had the responsibility of coordinating the work that federal agencies and the federal government need to do to protect American citizens from problems when this conversion occurs."
Also on February 4, 1998, President Clinton named John Koskinen to be Chairman of the Presidential Council on Y2K. Sen. Moynihan stated that he was encouraged by the move, praised Rep. Horn for his constant work on Y2K, but cautioned that "having spent two years studying and warning of the lagging progress of the agencies on this issue, I should warn Mr. Koskinen that with fewer than two years remaining, he faces what looks to be the 13th labor of Hercules."
On April 23, 1998, Senator Moynihan was appointed to the Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem. The purpose of the Committee is to "study the impact of the year 2000 technology problem on the Executive and Judicial Branches of the Federal Government, State governments, and private sector operations in the United States and abroad." The Committee will focus on the Y2K problem with regard to the following areas: utilities, telecommunications, transportation, financial services, general government services, general business services, and litigation.
On July 6, 1998, Senators Moynihan and Robert F. Bennett (R-UT) held a field hearing in New York City to examine the progress of foreign financial firms in managing the Y2K computer problem. The hearing found that the international financial community has much work to do to prepare itself for the challenges posed by the Y2K problem and lags behind the United States in this effort.
On July 30, 1998, Senator Moynihan joined Senators Bennett and Dodd in introducing President Clinton's "Y2K Disclosure Act." The legislation is intended to promote the open sharing of information about Y2K solutions by protecting those who share information from liability based on the dissemination of that information. The legislation was signed by the President on October 19, 1998.
On January 19, 1999, Senator Moynihan joined Chairman Bennett and Senator Dodd in introducing the Y2K State and Local Government Assistance Programs Act of 1999. This legislation authorizes $40 million for Fiscal Year 1999 through 2001 in matching grants to states to ensure that the computers they use to administer assistance programs are Y2K-compliant. The bill stipulates that certain Federal poverty programs – Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), food stamps, child support enforcement, child care, and child welfare programs – be listed as priority programs.
On January 27, 1999, Senator Moynihan joined the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Committee on Small Business and the Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem – Christopher S. Bond (R-MO), John F. Kerry (D-MA), Robert F. Bennett (R-UT), and Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT) – and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) in introducing the Small Business Year 2000 Readiness Act. This Act expands the Small Business Administration's 7(a) loan program to provide guaranteed loans to small businesses to address the Y2K problem.
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Go to Senator Moynihan's Y2K Letter to President Clinton.
John Lindquist, Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin – Madison.