Y2K Bug Hits Energy Dept., NSF

The Energy Department and the National Science Foundation experienced minor computer failures blamed on the Year 2000 technology problem yesterday, the first day of the government's new fiscal year.

Both agencies' problems were solved by the end of the day, according to the President's Council on the Year 2000 Conversion, which intends to monitor agencies through the weekend for additional reports of problems.

The Energy Department reported that a purchasing system temporarily failed, and the science foundation reported problems with a system that provides information to grant recipients.

Meanwhile, the Clinton administration declared its food stamp computers Y2K compliant and said 20 million recipients should have no problem receiving $20 billion in benefits after Jan. 1.

House Passes 2 Spending Bills

The House approved two more compromise spending bills for the new fiscal year, readying them for Senate action and President Clinton's expected signature.

A $69 billion agriculture bill was passed 240 to 175, and a $51 billion transportation measure was approved 304 to 91.

The agriculture bill included an $8.7 billion package of farm relief that critics said was stingy and ignored disputes over dairy policy and the Cuban trade embargo.

Nuclear Plants to Get Safety Review

President Clinton said he has ordered a safety review of U.S. nuclear installations after an accident at a Japanese nuclear fuel plant in which at least 55 people were exposed to radiation, some at potentially lethal levels.

"I thought that we ought to have all of our people learn everything we could about what happened there, analyze our systems here and make sure we've done everything we can to protect ourselves," Clinton said. "There was a pretty good level of confidence that we had done that."

Thousands of Green Cards to Expire

About 660,000 immigrants will have to renew their green cards in the next year, and advocates worry that the onslaught could overwhelm the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which already takes 12 months to issue cards to new applicants.

Green cards started expiring yesterday because in October 1989 the INS began issuing documents that expire after 10 years. Immigrants' permanent-resident status is not affected by the expiration, but they may have trouble getting jobs, obtaining government benefits or returning from abroad without a valid green card.

Renewing a green card could take 10 to 12 months, but immigrants can get a temporary stamp in their passport that indicates their residency status. Or they can get a temporary photo identification card from one of 33 INS district offices.