Coping With Y2K: Organizational Adaptation And Change At The U.S. Department Of Transportation

Tierney, Kathleen J.
Harrald, John R.
Webb, Gary R.
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The Year 2000 (Y2K) computer problem constituted an unprecedented threat for governments, the private sector, and members of the public worldwide. Y2K presented a special challenge for the US Department of Transportation (DOT), given DOT’s major responsibilities in the areas of national and international travel and transport, safety and security, continuity of operations planning, and disaster preparedness and response. To meet that challenge, the Department took extraordinary steps to ensure that its own systems remained operational into the new millennium, and it also played a major role in overall Federal readiness efforts and in stimulating private-sector Y2K preparedness. This study, which was undertaken by the University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center and the George Washington University Institute for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management, sought to (1) document the strategies DOT used to achieve internal readiness, coordinate with other Federal agencies, and support private-sector stakeholders in their remediation and preparedness efforts; (2) obtain information on which strategies worked well and why; (3) document the short-term and potential longer-term impacts of the Y2K readiness effort; and (4) review lessons learned and identify aspects of DOT’s Y2K-related efforts that can be transferred and institutionalized in ways that increase organizational effectiveness. To prepare this after-action report, the study team reviewed a wide range of documentary materials, engaged in systematic observation and conducted informal interviews at the Office of Emergency Transportation’s Crisis Management Center during the New Year rollover period, and conducted confidential in-depth interviews with 25 key DOT officials.
Organizational Adaptation , Change