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ARCHIVED - A Guide to Effective Business Continuity in Support of the Year 2000 Challenge

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The Canadian federal government, like most public and private sector organizations will be facing a problem when the year changes from 1999 to 2000 (1). Many systems that use a date in their processing, have traditionally utilized the date as a two-digit reference instead of a four-digit reference. The change to a new millennium may result in an error in date-related processing unless changes are made to these systems.

The potential negative consequences of the Year 2000 problem are far reaching and could bring entire organizations to a halt, or at least significantly impact their ability to deliver their services or products. Within the context of the federal government, the consequences could have highly undesirable impacts on Canadians, the country, and its economy. Specifically, these problems relate to inaccurate date processing or "denial of government service" issues when the systems crash.

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) has initiated a project to address the Year 2000 problem across the government. A Project Office was established to initiate activity and to facilitate and monitor the progress on converting assets supporting government-wide mission-critical functions. A preliminary assessment of the significance of the Year 2000 problem across the government determined that 48 government-wide mission-critical functions might be sensitive to this problem.

The latest readiness assessment(2) of the government's progress in solving the Year 2000 problem shows that there is still a significant amount of work to be completed before the year 2000. The current project status suggests that government departments must consider the possibility that government services and programs will be affected by Year 2000 failures. Within that context, TBS is taking a leadership role in advising departments to:

  1. Assess what could go wrong;
  2. Develop contingency plans as required;
  3. Ensure that departments have in place the proper framework to manage crises related to Year 2000 and associated events; and
  4. Plan for full business resumption, following a Year 2000 related business interruption.

Specifically, TBS is providing departments with this guide to business continuity, which will enhance the government's ability to address the potential negative consequences of the Year 2000 problem.

Why this Guide was Developed

This guide was developed to:

  1. Help departments manage risks associated with their Year 2000 initiatives, and ensure uninterrupted and fully functional delivery of programs and services to Canadians in spite of Year 2000 related failures;
  2. Help departments identify business continuity issues and properly prepare to manage Year 2000 problem related crises; and
  3. Help the TBS ensure that departments are ready to face the potential negative consequences of the Year 2000 problem and that the government is aware of the risks and consequences associated with not solving the Year 2000 problem.

Purpose of this Guide

The purpose of this document is to present a uniform and standardized set of business continuity activities for all departments to implement in order to facilitate the government's governance of the Year 2000 problem and thereby increase its likelihood of success.