A multi-million plan to train an army of Millennium Bug Busters for Prime Minister Tony Blair, funded by taxpayers, has been changed because its organisers are unsure that anything they taught could be used in time.
Bureaucrats are cringing over what is now seen as a public relations exercise gone wrong.
Blair promised in Parliament on 30 March that '#26 million will be used to help small and medium sized companies develop skills to assess and fix their Year 2000 problem.' But the initiative has been criticised as too little too late.
IT National Training Organisation (ITNTO) project consultant Tony Cusack, said: 'One of the problems is that when spontaneous initiatives are announced, putting the infrastructure behind them can be a struggle. It's an incredibly tight time frame. Part of the broader initiative is not just to fix the millennium problem but to skill up SME people in IT.'
Cusack also remarked that the ITNTO's 'butts were hanging out' to meet Blair's political objective of 20,000 people taking the courses.
Fix and diagnostic vendors have lobbied training providers to include product content in year 2000 courses accredited by the ITNTO. About 30 three-day courses, most costing about #1,000, will be running by October to show managers the millennium bug and the problems it can cause. Of 105 initial applications for accreditation, most were rejected because of confusion in the tendering process.
The ITNTO neglected to say courses less than three days long would be rejected because they might be mistaken for seminars.
An Action 2000 representative commented: 'I guess we should be asking questions about the execution of it but that's not a question for Action 2000.'
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