Release Date:  April 3, 1998


National Institutes of Health

As part of the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) activities related to
potential Year 2000 computer problems, NIH wishes to remind its awardees of
their responsibilities under NIH grants and cooperative agreements. 
Recipients of NIH grants and cooperative agreements generally have full
responsibility for the scientific, administrative, and financial aspects of
the activity being supported.  This responsibility extends to anticipating and
reacting to events such as the Year 2000 and taking all steps necessary to
mitigate potential problems that might be caused by the Year 2000.

Many computer systems and software applications may experience operational
difficulties because they are unable to handle the change from the year 1999
to the year 2000.  Others may fail because they do not properly consider 2000
a leap year.  For computer systems and software applications that use two
digits to represent the year, calculations, comparisons, and data sorting may
be adversely affected.  This would include computer systems ranging from the
desktop to the largest mainframe.

Awardees should also be aware that the Year 2000 may affect electronic devices
utilizing embedded microchips that perform date-based calculations. 
Biomedical devices and other laboratory equipment may depend upon embedded
date functions.  If the chip receives what it perceives to be an invalid date,
it may fail, impacting important experiments.  False date comparisons may
invalidate test results, leading to false conclusions.

NIH awardees are expected to ensure that the NIH activity being supported is
not adversely affected by the Year 2000 problem.  Potentially affected items
include: computer systems, software applications, databases, and equipment. 
If an application deals with dates, that application must be Year 2000
compliant before the first use of dates beyond December 31, 1999.  The
National Institutes of Health should be notified by September 1998 if an
awardee concludes that the Year 2000 will have significant impact on its
ability to carry out an NIH-funded activity.

All electronic data submitted to NIH from grantee institutions requires a
four-digit year date field.  This format is recommended in the Federal
Information Processing Standard Publication 4-1 (FIPS PUB 4-1).  Data that is
noncompliant is not accepted.  Systems being developed under NIH's Electronic
Research Administration (ERA) initiative will also be compliant and will
require a four-digit year element.  Institutions exchanging electronic
research administration data with NIH will need to be able to interface with
these systems.  NIH's Point of Contact for questions related to ERA Year 2000
data exchanges is the Commons, Extramural Inventions and Technical Resources
Branch (ComEITR), Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration,
Office of Extramural Research, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Suite 3190, Bethesda, MD
20892, 301-435-1986,  Information related to NIH's
Electronic Research Administration initiative can be found at

Information pertaining to the NIH-wide Year 2000 activities can be found at
NIH's Office of Information Resource Management's (OIRM) web site at  This site includes a link to FIPS PUB 4-1. 
Information concerning interagency Year 2000 activities, plans, and issues can
be found on the General Services Administration's web site at under the Year 2000 Information Directory.

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