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OFFICE OF INSULAR AFFAIRS U.S. Department of the Interior Washington, D.C.

PRESS RELEASE July 23, 1999

In a joint statement, Governor Pedro P. Tenorio, Washington Representative Juan Babauta and Danny Aranza, Acting Director for the Office of Insular Affairs announced today that the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands has been selected to receive $1,382,250 in new Federal assistance to help the Commonwealth partially solve its Year 2000 problems in critical local government computer systems. News of the decision by the Clinton White House to fund a unique OIA initiative to help the islands address their Y2K issues was announced yesterday by the Department of the Interior. The funding will be limited to replacing or repairing systems originally paid for by the U.S. Government.

Governor Tenorio said, "We appreciate this assistance because this is very important to the people of the CNMI. I like to see this personalized help… people coming here to assess needs as they apply to the Commonwealth. This kind of working relationship is helpful to maintain and improve the well-being of our people."

Representative Babauta added, "I want to thank OIA for helping the Northern Marianas assess the extent of Y2K repairs needed and for finding funding to address these needs. This $1.3 million will go a long way towards ensuring that disruptions in public services are minimized when January 1, 2000 arrives."

Aranza hailed the OMB decision today as an important one for U.S. islands. "OIA is particularly proud of this funding since it represents a major new source of assistance for the CNMI and one that is very much needed. It is essential to note that the Federal Government did not offer Y2K funding to the States, thus we are especially pleased that OMB has made a special exception for the Commonwealth. Without this funding, there was serious concern in Washington and in the CNMI, that the Y2K bug would cause major computer systems to crash and possibly cripple the government.

Contact Person: Roger Stillwell Phone: 202-208-5344 Fax: 202-208-7759

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