Andersen Consulting plans to stop accepting year 2000 consulting work due to fears it could be sued by clients whose systems fail at the turn of the century.
According to an industry source, a "global policy" banning Andersen business units from engaging in further Y2K consulting activities was handed down by company executives in the past 48 hours.
Andrew Macpherson, technology partner at Andersen, denied that any such plan would affect existing contracts involving Y2K work. "Yes, we're doing work for certain clients on Y2K, but no, we're not discontinuing that client activity."
Macpherson was cagey, however, when questioned on whether or not it would take on new Y2K consulting business.
"We have a whole set of policies and procedures about how we consider dealing with future Y2K work and we'll apply that."
Macpherson was unable to elaborate on these "policies and procedures" by press time.
Despite this denial, another Andersen employee confirmed the global mandate was a reality, but was uncertain as to whether or not the policy is "official or just to be used in practice. It's a global directive - it's not specific to Australia and New Zealand," she said.
A spokesperson from consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers said she understood Andersen's reluctance to continue with its Y2K business. Furthermore, she said Price Waterhouse - prior to its merger with Coopers - had steered clear of such activities due to the danger of millennium bug-related lawsuits. "From an old Price Waterhouse perspective, we didn't do any work in Y2K whatsoever for precisely that reason."