Weekly Web Watch: Agency took no chances with the bug

The Government and its agencies heaved a huge sigh of relief this week as it became clear that the millennium bug had not caused any significant problems in the UK.

The Government and its agencies heaved a huge sigh of relief this

week as it became clear that the millennium bug had not caused any

significant problems in the UK.



The web site set up by millennium bug taskforce Action 2000 to outline

the facts about, and preparations for, the threat to computer systems

for businesses, infrastructure and the public wasn’t taking any chances,

however, and no updates were issued between 24 December and 3

January.



Instead, the vivid yellow site, emblazoned with the bug logo, linked to

the Government’s on-line update on all things millennial during this

period.



The media had got so worked up about the prospect of global meltdown

that the ’good news’ angle paled quickly into a chicken-and-egg debate

about whether it had been worth spending billions of pounds on tackling

the supposed problem. After an initial wave of positive reaction to the

success of the campaign to make sure the UK was ready, ministers and

Action 2000 officials were forced to pause in their back-slapping to

defend the time and money invested.



The Millennium Centre web site has also been used to put foward the

arguments for the action taken, and confirmed in bold type that it was

’business as usual’ in the UK in areas from food supplies and defence to

telecommunications and banking systems.



As well as posting daily updates on the situation, the Millennium Centre

site has space for ’special bulletins’, billed in a vaguely ominous tone

with the introduction: ’if any particular issues arise that require us

to release information outside the bulletin schedule we will do so

here’.



This is where you will find the full article by Margaret Beckett

underlining the success of the Action 2000 campaign and responding to

the question of whether the fuss was worth it. This is the only

acknowledgement of the dissenting voices, however, and the issue is not

flagged up on the home page. Needless to say, since the Action 2000 web

site was still static as PR Week went to press, there was no back-up

from that quarter.



The Government appears to believe that this angle on the bug will go

away pretty swiftly, and so it is not worth drawing too much attention

to it on this site. As long as the media continue to leap gleefully on

to every problem discovered in less well-prepared countries, such as

Italy, it may well be right.



Company: Action 2000

Issue: The millennium bug

Address: www.bug2000.co.uk and www.millennium-centre.gov.uk



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