New Year's Plans Fizzle for Technology Workers: Companies on Alert for Millennium Bug

By Marco, Donna De | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 6, 1999 | Go to article overview

New Year's Plans Fizzle for Technology Workers: Companies on Alert for Millennium Bug


Marco, Donna De, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Not everyone will be ringing in the millennium with celebratory fanfare.

Thanks to the year-2000 computer bug, thousands of employees at companies across the nation will have to work instead.

In fact, many companies are requiring employees to limit their vacation time at the end of the year or even eliminate it altogether.

Fearing the unexpected problems that might occur when midnight strikes, companies like Virginia Power and Potomac Electric Power Co. are enacting no-vacation policies that could last for just a couple of days or as long as several months.

"I guess we'll all be up here in tuxedos and evening gowns," said Ken Blackwell, a spokesman for Virginia Power.

The Richmond-based utility has enacted a no-vacation policy during the last week of December for executives, corporate communications officials and plant operators, Mr. Blackwell said. Company officials don't have an estimate of how many employees it will affect.

Utility workers, computer technicians and bank employees are among those workers whose vacations will be affected at the beginning of 2000. The year-2000 problem involves computers designed to recognize only the last two digits of a year, so many observers are worried that 2000 could be misread as 1900. Some predict widespread problems such as power outages, communication and transportation disruptions, lost documents and crippled automated teller machines.

More than half of the more than 200 chief information officers and technology executives polled by CIO magazine earlier this year said they would ban vacations for information-technology staffers during the week around New Year's, according to the Associated Press.

None of Pepco's 3,700 employees are allowed a vacation between Dec. 26 and Jan. 8, 2000, said Bob Dobkin, a Pepco spokesman.

"Everyone is looking to make sure [their systems] work the way they're supposed to," Mr. …

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