WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In her opening remarks for the 1999 National Training and Exercises Conference, Kay C. Goss, FEMA's associate director for preparedness, gave an update on the agency's Y2K-related activities. The conference was held May 3, 1999 at the National Emergency Management Training Center in Emmitsburg, Md. A complete copy of Ms. Goss's speech is also available.
Another recent and ongoing challenge, preparedness for the Year 2000 (Y2K) conversion, is being addressed with two new, rapidly developed, Y2K short courses: one for FEMA employees and one for State and local emergency managers. Both courses were successfully piloted in March in Region VII and we have received hundreds of requests for the course materials. We anticipate a large demand for the State and local course in a compressed period of time, since the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge from the course will diminish rapidly during the fall. We will train our way out of this.
After seeing draft copies of our Y2K brochure for FEMA employees, NASA indicated that they may want to distribute a copy to all of their employees and the District of Columbia School System indicated that they may want to distribute a copy to every student. The Department of Energy has also contacted us about helping them with Y2K training. This is all very exciting and tells me that we are doing a good job.
I am delighted to announce that, just last week, we obtained final approval to launch these high demand courses. Copies of the course materials will be provided to you during the conference. Th presses are running as we speak.
Y2K Regional Workshops
The Readiness Division conducted Regional Y2K Workshops in all 10 FEMA Regions, between February 17 and March 26. These workshops were highly successful in bringing together Federal, State, and local emergency management professionals to grapple with many significant, practical Y2K issues. Mike Walker observed that a friend of his from the press told him they were about ready to cut lose on the President, Vice President, and John Koskinen for not doing enough, until the FEMA workshops.
Over 1,500 Federal, State, U.S. Territory, and local government representatives took part in these 1 and 1/2-day efforts. A National Team comprised of representatives from the Departments of Energy, Transportation, and Health and Human Services, the National Communications System, the Federal Reserve, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the American Red Cross and FEMA presented the current status of their Sector's readiness for Y2K in each workshop. Mike Walker, FEMA's Deputy Director, was the senior official leading the national team.
The presentations set the stage for discussions among participants resulting in a list of the Nation's vulnerabilities, critical issues and recommended actions to mitigate against and respond to possible consequences of Y2K computer problems. The participants found that the U.S. has a robust national infrastructure that will be able to perform, and that the emergency response systems are or will be either Y2K compliant or have contingency plans in place. The efforts to prepare for Y2K have provided a positive opportunity to improve emergency management programs across the board and to engage public and private institutions in preparing contingency plans. Our readiness level will improve.
In the workshops four categories of issue areas were identified where additional efforts are needed. These are:
Public Information: the importance of increased public awareness, development of a national media policy, and the sharing and accurate, timely information.
Planning: a need for the development and testing of contingency plans, especially at the local level.