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
Instead, the vivid yellow site, emblazoned with the bug logo, linked to
the Government’s on-line update on all things millennial during this
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
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