TITLE IV--STUDENT ASSISTANCE
PART G--GENERAL PROVISIONS
SEC. 490E. YEAR 2000 REQUIREMENTS AT THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Part G of title IV (20 U.S.C. 1088 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:
`SEC. 493A. YEAR 2000 REQUIREMENTS AT THE DEPARTMENT.
`(a) PREPARATIONS FOR YEAR 2000- In order to ensure that the processing, delivery, and administration of grant, loan, and work assistance provided under this title is not interrupted due to operational problems related to the inability of computer systems to indicate accurately dates after December 31, 1999, the Secretary of Education shall--
`(1) take such actions as are necessary to ensure that all internal and external systems, hardware, and data exchange infrastructure administered by the Department that are necessary for the processing, delivery, and administration of the grant, loan, and work assistance are Year 2000 compliant by March 31, 1999, such that there will be no business interruption after December 31, 1999;
`(2) ensure that the Robert T. Stafford Federal Student Loan Program and the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program are equal in level of priority with respect to addressing, and that resources are managed to equally provide for successful resolution of, the Year 2000 computer problem in both programs by December 31, 1999;
`(3) work with the Department's various data exchange partners under this title to fully test all data exchange routes for Year 2000 compliance via end-to-end testing, and submit a report describing the parameters and results of such tests to the Comptroller General not later than March 31, 1999;
`(4) ensure that the Inspector General of the Department (or an external, independent entity selected by the Inspector General) performs and publishes a risk assessment of the systems and hardware under the Department's management, that has been reviewed by an independent entity, and make such assessment publicly available not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of the Higher Education Amendments of 1998;
`(5) not later than June 30, 1999, ensure that the Inspector General (or an external, independent entity selected by the Inspector General) conducts a review of the Department's Year 2000 compliance for the processing, delivery, and administration of grant, loan, and work assistance, and submits a report reflecting the results of that review to the Chairperson of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources of the Senate and the Chairperson of the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the House of Representatives;
`(6) develop a contingency plan to ensure the programs under this title will continue to run uninterrupted in the event of widespread disruptions in the flow of accurate computerized data, which contingency plan shall include a prioritization of mission critical systems and strategies to allow data partners to transfer data through alternate means; and
`(7) alert Congress at the earliest possible time if mission critical deadlines will not be met.
`(b) POSTPONEMENT AUTHORITY FOR THE YEAR 2000-
`(1) PURPOSE- It is the purpose of this subsection to provide the Secretary with the flexibility necessary to--
`(A) ensure that the resources and capabilities of institutions, lenders, and guaranty agencies are not overburdened by the combination of student aid processing and delivery requirements added or modified by the amendments made by the Higher Education Amendments of 1998 and by the changes required to ensure that the systems of the institutions, lenders and guaranty agencies are Year 2000 compliant; and
`(B) avoid the disruption of grant, loan, or work assistance funds awarded to students because of Year 2000 compliance problems at a substantial number of institutions, lenders, and guaranty agencies.
`(2) AUTHORITY TO POSTPONE- The Secretary may postpone, for a period of time described in paragraph (3), the implementation of any requirements under part B, D, E, or G that are added or modified by the amendments made by the Higher Education Amendments of 1998 related to the processing or delivery of grant, loan, and work assistance (which shall not include the determination of need for such assistance) provided under this title, if the Secretary--
`(A) determines that--
`(i) implementation of such requirements would require extensive changes to the existing systems of institutions, lenders, or guaranty agencies; and
`(ii) postponement is necessary to avoid jeopardizing the ability of a substantial number of institutions, lenders, or guaranty agencies to ensure that all of the systems of the institutions, lenders, or guaranty agencies related to the processing or delivery of such assistance function successfully after December 31, 1999; and
`(B) promptly publishes in the Federal Register a list of, and notifies Congress of, any provisions, the implementation of which the Secretary intends to postpone, with the reasons for such postponement.
`(3) EXCEPTIONS TO AUTHORITY- The Secretary may not postpone the implementation of one or more provisions described in this subsection longer than the earlier of--
`(A) the period of time that the Secretary determines necessary to ensure that the processing and delivery systems of the institutions, lenders, and guaranty agencies referred to in paragraph (1)(A)(ii) are capable of functioning successfully after December 31, 1999; or
`(B) one award year after the effective date applicable to such provision under the Higher Education Amendments of 1998.'.
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