Millennium Bug Watch

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The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT agency charged with sorting out the millennium bug has warned that the problems could have started already.

Action 2000 has been raising the alarm over the bug, which is expected to throw computers into chaos in less than a year's time. But for businesses who use computers to order and pay for stock 12 months in advance, the arrival of 1999 could start the bug off, as 2000 will already feature on their system.

Gwyneth Flower, head of the government agency Action 2000, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme yesterday: "We expect that from today onwards incidents will occur because it is the first time many computers will have seen 2000 for real."

While large businesses such as British Telecom, Barclays Bank and Unilever have spent millions combating the millennium bug, she said, many smaller companies fail to see the urgency.

"Many companies have made up their own applications to suit their needs based on the year ahead, " said a spokesman for the agency. "Over the next few days there are going to be some problems and this might bring to light the relevance to companies of getting it sorted out."

Cathy Comerford