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Cost, Risk of Millennium Meltdown is Monstrous

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RALEIGH — Comets, meteors and Godzilla threaten us from movie screens. But a real threat looms just 571 days from today.

The Millennium bug is a computer programming problem that will cause many computers worldwide to read the year 2000 as 1900. The cost to fix the problem and the risk in doing nothing, are both enormous.

The problem is simple and at the same time complicated. A decades old software decision will cause many computers to not recognize the date of January 1, 2000.

Already, the effect is being felt. Credit and debit cards with a 2000 expiration date may not be accepted.

Gartner Group analyst William Ulrich says it's predicted 90% of businesses will experience lost revenue or complete failure."If you're just a small to medium size company and just now realize it might impact your company you're already behind the eight ball and a little late to get started."Implications for business, government and individuals are a big unknown. The Federal Reserve Board Governor estimates the cost to the private sector at $50 billion.

Irene Dec, of Pridential Insurance, says some companies will close."The industry has estimated that 10% to 20% of the businesses today will not be able to do business beyond year 2000. That represents a major economic impact globally."The Pentagon is concerned about a nuclear "accident" because Russia's computer systems are not compliant. But neither are those of many U.S. government agencies including the Departments ofTransportation,Defense,Agriculture,Educationand others.

The world press issues warnings of problems daily. Even your Windows-equipped personal computer could have problems. The problem is real and it's already underway.

As of April 30th, North Carolina state government reported its agencies were 37% "Year 2000" compliant. However, work had not started on 24% of the state's systems.