Private-sector spending to tackle the year-2000 problem is likely to top $50 billion, Federal Reserve Board Governor Edward W. Kelley Jr. told Congress Tuesday.

In cautiously optimistic testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee, Mr. Kelley said, "It is impossible today to forecast the impact of this event, and the range of possibilities runs from minimal to extremely serious."

Mr. Kelley said that though the year-2000 computer bug will slow the economy, predictions of a serious recession are "probably a stretch." He said that the Fed, along with the Clearing House for Interbank Payment Systems, or Chips, and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, or Swift, would conduct a test for customers of all three systems on Sept. 26.

Separately, the Senate has created a special committee on the year-2000 problem to focus lawmakers' efforts. Commissioned until Feb. 28, 2000, the special committee will be headed by Sen. Robert F. Bennett, R-Utah, with Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., as the ranking Democrat.

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