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Abstract

Although Y2K was neither an accident nor an unanticipated challenge, the millennium debugging was a watershed event for crisis response, prevention, and management, in theory and in practice. The simultaneity, high stakes, and ubiquity of the crisis permanently altered the circle of players with vested interests in and responsibility for emergency management (EM). Unfortunately, for political, socio-cultural, and strategic reasons, the legacy of Y2K was invaluable but limited: two steps forward and one step backward. Unlike 9/11, the Y2K crisis was anticipated, well-defined, and limited. Nonetheless, the Millennium project presents a model and methods that are germane to the a permanent but dynamic EM regime today. Y2K provided a coherent readiness and response model: an active matrix of players, protocols, and procedures. This matrix retains value even though post 9/11 challenges are more complex and require more agility than Y2K issues. The article first examines this model and other legacies, particularly in the private sector and in political culture; then the author describes why features dissolved and why. The author emphasizes investments, learning, leadership, and commitments to systems control that occurred as a result of Y2K, and recommends what can reasonably be done in the post 9/11 era to recapture cohesiveness and regimens that worked successfully in the Millennium Crisis. A brief literature review is included, and the author suggests areas for further research, especially in the area of leadership, collaborative intelligence, and security cultures after 9/11.

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