FC 93/18

Finance Committee

Ninety-third Session

Rome, 13 - 17 September 1999

Status Report on the Year 2000 Issue

I. Remedial Actions

1. Work on the Year 2000 problem started in June 1997 with a study on the replacement of the old Hitachi mainframe platform, known to be non-Y2K compliant. This migration was completed in April 1998 when the new IBM 2003-124 processor and the new OS/390 operating system became operational. While this replacement was taking place, an assessment of all other IT assets at Headquarters was conducted in order to identify non-compliant items and develop an appropriate corrective plan. A similar study was later done for Decentralized Offices and a corrective plan also developed for these locations. The total cost of these remedial actions amounts to approximately US$ 690,000.

2. The status of all these remedial actions as of 30 June 1999 is summarized in the table below. As can be seen, work is progressing satisfactorily and all actions are expected to be completed by 30 September, well in advance of the year-end deadline. It should also be considered that several of the Applications now being converted will not be facing Y2K problems until sometime in late 2000 or early 2001, when year 2000 data will finally be entered.


Status as of 30 June 1999
to be
Software 0% 38% 62%
Applications 2% 18% 80%
Hardware (HQ) 0% 9% 91%
Hardware (Field) 0% 29% 71%

II. Impact on Agriculture and Food Sector

3. In addition to the work aimed at ensuring that the Organization's IT infrastructure and systems will continue to operate correctly in the Year 2000 and beyond, the Year 2000 project has also run an "awareness campaign" to alert our member countries to the possible problems which the millennium bug could create for agriculture and the food sector. To this end, a presentation on the Year 2000 project has been added to the briefing programme of FAOR personnel passing through Headquarters. In addition, on 19 April, a Press Release and a brochure on "Food, Agriculture and the Millennium Bug" have been posted on our website. These publications have generated a great deal of media interest and the article has been reported in major newspapers in several countries. Linkages to our publications have also been posted in several specialized Y2K websites.

III. Cooperation within the UN system

4. Following a decision taken at the High Level CCAQ meeting held in N.Y. last March, the Year 2000 project is cooperating with other UN agencies in an effort to share information, exchange material and review current and best practices. This cooperation is taking place through the Information Systems Co-ordination Committee (ISCC) of the ACC for all IT-related matters, and through the CCAQ network for matters related to business continuity and contingency planning. As part of the CCAQ network, close cooperation is taking place with the other Rome-based agencies. In this connection, following a meeting in May 1999, three joint working groups (FAO, WFP and IFAD) have been formed with responsibility for:

5. Cooperation has also begun, with coordination from UN N.Y., to cover possible emergencies arising from Y2K problems.

IV. Infrastructure

6. AFS began addressing the Y2K infrastructure issue at the end of 1997. The first activity involved a survey of all manufacturers and suppliers, asking them to review and identify eventual Y2K deficiencies in the equipment manufactured and/or supplied to FAO. Replies to the survey were then evaluated by AFS and helped to formulate the Y2K plan that has been followed by AFS over the last two years. In line with this plan, AFS has accelerated the replacement of selected systems and the software upgrading or modification of a few others, all of which has been funded by the GOE budget.

7. As a follow-up to this activity AFS has recently initiated another survey, again contacting all firms and suppliers, to ensure that no additional problems have emerged in the last year. Part of this second survey is being carried out by a specialized consultant who is focussing on the buildings infrastructure components. A final report is foreseen by early July and so far the problems identified have been minor ones.

V. Recently Identified Issues

8. In addition to the remedial actions identified in the two studies mentioned in point 1 above, a large number of new Y2K-compliance issues have recently been identified by Microsoft and other software vendors and this has forced us to review the Y2K status of several key components of our IT infrastructure. This large number of problems, far exceeding what could reasonably be foreseen at the start of the project, has required an additional allocation of approximately US$ 330,000, recently provided by PBE. Remedial work has already started and is expected to be completed by the end of October.