Although overall U.S. readiness to cope with the Y2K computer problem continued to improve in the last quarter, concerns persist in the small business, local government, health care, and education sectors, indicates the latest quarterly update by the White House Council on Year 2000 Conversion. Citing a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business showing that 28% of small businesses "do not intend to do anything to prepare for the date change," the report predicts that roughly 850,000 small firms could face problems. Moreover, the document says that some 25% of U.S. counties do not have a Y2K plan; that 15% of smaller, local health-care facilities aren't ready; and that only 28% of local educational facilities report their mission-critical systems are Y2K compliant. Despite those concerns, "the overall picture is favorable," stressed Council Chair John Koskinen in releasing the report Aug. 5. "We're now increasingly confident that the nation's basic infrastructure will hold." Earlier in the week, he noted, both the telecommunications and banking industries issued favorable reports on their Y2K readiness. Similar encouraging reports have come recently from the airline industry and federal-government agencies. Koskinen isn't as optimistic, however, about Y2K readiness internationally. Particularly in developing nations, he warned, breakdowns could occur in telecommunications, financial systems, electric power, and air traffic control.