Academic journal article Public Administration Review

Lessons from the "Y2K and You" Campaign for the Local Government Community

Academic journal article Public Administration Review

Lessons from the "Y2K and You" Campaign for the Local Government Community

Article excerpt


The new millennium has arrived, and the major investment that cities and counties made in Y2K remediation and preparation has paid off. Early reports from Public Technology, Inc. (PTI) members indicate that the rollover from 1999 to 2000 caused little difficulty for local government systems, and vital services continued without a hitch. Transportation, water supply, and public safety systems had been explicitly targeted for early and aggressive help, and this effort was reflected in their continued positive performance.

Equally important, the social fabric of America has held up to the pressure. Thanks to the early political leadership of local elected and appointed officials, among other positive influences, there was no panic, no stockpiling of food and other resources, and a positive collaboration between local government and the social sector (including neighborhood groups, nonprofit organizations, and the press).

A survey of PTI member jurisdictions, "Lessons Learned from the Y2K Effort," illustrates these two benefits (see Figure 1). From small jurisdictions such as Gaithersburg, Maryland, to major urban centers such as Miami--Dade County, Florida, and San Antonio, Texas, systems were improved and performed flawlessly, and civic infrastructure was created and deployed in effective ways. More than five years ago, PTI member cities and counties identified Y2K as an issue and selflessly gave their ideas and solutions so that all local governments could benefit. This "early warning system" of the PTI membership was deployed early and alerted local officials to the real challenges of the Y2K problem.

Figure 1 -- Y2K Lessons Learned: Items from PTI Member Survey (January 10, 2000)

Miami-Dade County, Florida

Spent more than $25 million on software, hardware, and consultants to make systems Y2K compliant.

New initiatives--Developed a contingency plan. Now, all departments have contingency plans that take into account the loss of basic utilities including electricity and telecommunications.

* Programs initiated for citizens

* County created a Y2K Web site,

* established a Y2K speakers bureau whose members participated in meetings throughout the county,

* published a Y2K bulletin (in English, Spanish, Creole) in local newspapers with information about county's Y2K efforts and what residents should do to prepare, and

* established a Y2K hotline.

Des Moines, Iowa

Spent $2 million on hardware and $1 million to make systems Y2K compliant.

New initiatives--Created building shut-down procedures, established redundant radio communications.

Programs initiated for citizens--Produced four forums on Y2K issues that were televised on cable system.

San Antonio, Texas

Total spent on Y2K is over $500,000.

New initiatives--

* City staff assisted Bexar County staff evaluations of Y2K service contractors.

* City, county, and state all participated in the Greater San Antonio Y2K Coalition to help the community transition into the new millennium. In addition to the city, Bexar County, and the State of Texas, members included private-sector, military, educational organizations. The coalition produced brochures, panel discussions, and radio and television interviews dealing with Y2K preparedness.

Hampton, Virginia

Total spent on Y2K over $500,000.

Programs initiated for citizens--Y2K FAQ booklet, Y2K Web site and toll-free hotline. Media campaign included billboards and radio and television public service announcements.

Gaithersburg, Maryland

Total spent on Y2K was $10,000. Top resources used in research--PTI UCTITF listserv.

Hamilton County, Ohio

Participated in President's Council on Y2K Community Conversations Forums.

Tucson, Arizona

Spent more than $500,000 on Y2K. …

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