WASHINGTON — The federal Y2K command center ceased around-the-clock operations Tuesday as officials declared final victory over the Y2K computer bug.

"We can safely say what has been referred to as the Y2K bug has been squashed," said John A. Koskinen, the president's Y2K adviser, after the first full work day of the millennium on Monday produced no major Y2K problems.

In fact, things have gone almost too smoothly since the New Year, leaving Koskinen and Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah — the first national leader to draw major attention to the problem — to face constant questions about whether the threat was ever real.

"That's interesting because just before the new year, some doomsdayers attacked me for happy talk, saying I was lying when I said I didn't think it would be too bad," Bennett said in the national Y2K command center.

He added, "I do not apologize at all for the amount of attention paid to this because as those few failures that have occurred have demonstrated, it is a real problem that if left unaddressed could have led to genuine disaster."

For example, he said, "I point to the stock market in Pakistan that collapsed because of Y2K problems, and say, 'All right, would you want the New York Stock Exchange to go through this?' "

Bennett added, "The best-case scenario has come true, which isn't usual around here." He added that he and most people expected something between the best and worst scenarios to occur instead.

Koskinen said that pre-New Year predictions that Y2K would not be too bad came from the government and big business — "two groups that people often don't trust." He said when their predictions came true, many people then figured they must have had some ulterior motive to create fear over the fizzled bug.

"We're victims of our own success," Koskinen lamented.

Bennett agreed. And to add proof that the bug could have been bad, he noted that Americans spent $100 billion to update computer systems to fight it. "Business managers who approved most of those other expenditures are not in the business of overspending. . . . They knew the threat was real."

And federal officials pointed out several small glitches that did occur Monday as further proof that Y2K was a real threat that had been defeated.

For example, Koskinen said one state — which he declined to name — left three computer systems running that it knew were not Y2K-compliant (and had been replaced elsewhere) just to see what would happen. "All three of the systems failed after the Y2K rollover and could not be used," he said.

Some of the other glitches reported Monday as normal business resumed included:

A computer that tracks nuclear material at the Oak Ridge nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee malfunctioned. The actual accounting of material was not affected, officials said.

In New Mexico, Motor Vehicle Division offices could not issue drivers' licenses for a time. Koskinen said 18 states reported similar minor malfunctions in a variety of systems but said all were quickly repaired.

The presidential campaign Web site of Vice President Al Gore — who has been teased for claims that he invented the Internet — briefly carried the date "Monday, Jan. 3, 19100." Gore's campaign called it a minor glitch that was quickly fixed.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reported a problem with electronic licensing and registration of gun dealers. Koskinen said the ATF would license and register dealers the old-fashioned way, on paper, until the problem is repaired. He said the bureau's ability to conduct background checks on gun buyers had not been affected.

The U.S. Postal Service said it easily fixed two minor problems — one in some old retail terminals, which showed the wrong date, and another in a system that sends in reports of mail volume. Also, the Department of Housing and Urban Development briefly had problems with computers that prevented a few people from terminating federally insured mortgages.

In New York City, the Godiva Chocolate Co. discovered that a Y2K-related glitch triggered at the start of its work week prevented cash registers from working until it was fixed.

A customer returning a movie to a rental shop in suburban Albany, N.Y., was presented with a $91,250 late fee after computers showed the tape was 100 years late.

Koskinen told reporters, "We'll continue to see glitches pop up here and there in the coming days and weeks. They will be localized and transitory, and will not pose a threat to the nation's economy."

He said the Y2K command center will continue to monitor problems during normal working hours through Feb. 29 — the next date that could pose a problem.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.