Government falls victim to Y2K -- it thinks

Is it a bug, or isn't it? Don't ask the Office of National Statistics, it's a load of trash... Jane Wakefield reports

The government admitted to ZDNet UK News Tuesday that it has been the victim of the millennium bug -- although it is still confused about how to recognise exactly what a millennium bug is.

The Office of National Statistics confirmed it experienced a "date change glitch", which saw computers in registry offices up and down the country printing incorrect dates on birth certificates. Anybody requesting a birth certificate after January 1 2000 were sent hand written copies because affected computers printed out copies dated 2200.

Initially a spokesman claimed it had nothing to do with the millennium bug. "This is a non-millennium problem, it is a software issue. It is not about hardware or embedded software," he said. Later the same spokesman admitted it might be a Y2K issue. "It has very little to do with the millennium bug," he said.

Later the spokesman conceded it was impossible to tell what caused the problem. "I can't tell you it is definitely not [a millennium bug issue]. Who is to say what is and what isn't," he said. "It is a very trivial error. The idea that thousands of babies have got hundred year old birth certificates is complete trash," he said.

A Cabinet Office spokesman was more willing to put the glitch down to Y2K. "This is the type of minor glitch we thought likely to occur," he said. He also admitted there had been others, but could only offer one solid example. "Aberdeen weather centre found the bug had affected its observation equipment. They phoned in the weather reports while the equipment was fixed," he said.

Have you had any Y2K "glitches"... more to the point, will you admit to them? Tell the Mailroom