critical need to align organizational and ICT strategies has been a concern of the information systems community for decades.
Overview of Research and Commentary on Y2K
Popular Literature and News Media
During the late 1990s, in the run up to the millennium rollover, a substantial popular and business literature on Y2K appeared. Although these sources provide context for the Air Force’s effort to address the Y2K problem, most of this popular literature is not relevant to the issues discussed here. Reporting in the general news media on Y2K was also extensive in the run up to January 1, 2000, along with reporting in the immediate aftermath on the generally smooth transition and the relatively few problems that did occur. American RadioWorks produced a useful retrospective report on Y2K in 2004 (website address provided in the bibliography).
Government and Private Sector Reports
The efforts of governments, international bodies, multinational corporations, and other organizations such as professional societies were very important to the ultimate success of Y2K remediation and contingency planning. One prominent example is the President’s Council on Year 2000 Conversion. The regular status reporting of federal efforts by the General Accounting Office is also a valuable resource (GAO 1997, 1998a, 1998b, 1998c, 1999). These reports provide information about the extensive efforts undertaken across the U.S. government to coordinate remediation efforts across agencies. The efforts of the Department of Defense and the military services, in particular, complemented efforts of the Air Force as described in this report. In 2000, GAO performed a top-down, retrospective evaluation of Y2K. One of GAO’s main recommendations—that the capabilities created within and across organizations to deal with Y2K should be leveraged to address other ICT risks—is consistent with this report.
In a retrospective report for the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Mussington (2002) examines efforts to address Y2K and the implications for research and development in the area of critical infrastructure protection. Mussington’s focus on the interactions between organizations and the broad ICT infrastructure complement this report’s findings drawn from the examination of a single enterprise. Mussington also emphasizes the importance of decentralized information-sharing efforts that crossed organizational and national borders.
The existence and functioning of ICT systems in their social and organizational contexts raise a number of research questions and issues that are interdisciplinary in nature and, taken together, might be termed “social informatics” (Kling 1999). This field has a long history (Kling and Scacchi 1982). The conclusions of this report are broadly consistent with this literature, work from which is selectively referenced.
Journal articles in management, information systems, and software engineering contributed perspectives to Y2K planning or drew lessons from the experience after the fact. The Journal of Clinical Engineering, for example, which deals with medical equipment engineering, devoted most of its July-August 1999 issue to Y2K preparation, including case studies of particular health care institutions (for example, Mercado 1999). Information Systems Frontiers devoted its August 1999 issue to exploring the ethical, legal, and risk management aspects of Y2K. Included in this issue is a very useful piece on how to leverage capability created to address Y2K in the service of ongoing ICT management tasks (Isaacs 1999). In the September-October 1998 issue of the Journal of Software Maintenance: Research and Practice, Marcoccia provides a case study of how one organization built infrastructure to effectively deal with Y2K.