OPM Says It's Y2K-Ready
By Stephen Barr
The Office of Personnel Management, which oversees a broad array of federal employee benefit programs, has declared that its 109 most critical automated systems have been fixed and tested for Year 2000 computer glitches.
"I am able to guarantee to you that OPM operations will continue well beyond the year 2000," OPM Director Janice R. Lachance said Wednesday.
For the nearly 10 million federal employees and retirees who depend on OPM, yesterday's announcement was a significant step toward allaying Y2K anxieties, similar to President Clinton's assurance in December 1998 that Social Security payments will not be halted by Y2K disruptions.
OPM oversees federal employment information, job applications, federal pay and vacation policies, health benefits, life insurance, retirement payments and the government's annual charity drive, the Combined Federal Campaign. For example, OPM transfers benefits data electronically to the Treasury Department, so that checks can be sent to government retirees.
Lachance said OPM will find out later this month the Y2K readiness of the health insurance companies participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program.
OPM will offer help to contractors found struggling to make Y2K fixes, she said.
The OPM announcement was welcomed by Rep. Constance A. Morella (R-Md.), who co-chairs the House Y2K task force; Janet Abrams, executive director of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion; and Bill Smith, director of retirement benefit services at the 435,000-member National Association of Retired Federal Employees.
Morella praised OPM for creating English and Spanish public service announcements on Y2K for radio and television stations and for producing informational cards that tell employees and retirees where to call for Y2K information.
Lachance said Y2K information can be obtained by calling toll-free 1-888-872-4925 or by calling a toll-free "fax-back line" at 1-877-750-0177.
Information also can be obtained at the OPM Web site (www.opm.gov/y2k/help).
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company