Computer crisis bills bite

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The Independent Online
The Government faces a multi-million bill to ensure that its computers are not disrupted at the turn of the millennium, it emerged last night. Departments confirmed in a series of Commons written replies that the money to foot the bill to overcome the "computer millennium problem" will have to come out of existing funds.

Ministers made clear they had "defined the scope of the problem and realistically assessed the risks, planned for the effective testing of solutions, initiated the preparation of contingency plans and are taking steps to strengthen contracts with suppliers".

Department for Education and Employment minister, Kim Howells, disclosed that his department would have to pay an estimated pounds 27.7m over the next two to three years towards the cost of securing millennium compliance. "The necessary funding is being found from existing financial provision," he said.

The Ministry of Agriculture estimated the cost of resolving the computer problem at pounds 9.4m, and the Department of Transport, Environment and the Regions would be spending more than pounds 3m.