Millennium's costly threat to mechanical brains

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The cost to the Government of the potentially disastrous implications of computers being unable to cope with the change from 1999 to 2000 is not known, the National Audit Office says.

There are huge consequences resulting from the so-called Millennium Threat. Any computer application could be affected unless the software is checked. These include hospital records being inaccurate because patients' ages will be given as negative, police records being lost or salaries not being paid.

While each department could spend between pounds 10m and pounds 60m on the problem, the NAO says that most departments and agencies were still at the stage of auditing their systems and "it was not yet possible to estimate costs with confidence".

In the United States the estimate is that the switch could cost federal government $30bn (pounds 14bn). National Audit Office, Managing the Millennium Threat, pounds 4.70