Veterans Affairs stands down for security

Veterans Affairs stands down for security

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

NOV. 3 -The Veterans Affairs Department stood down its computer systems today to emphasize the need for greater security awareness within the nation's largest civilian agency.

The department's 222,000 employees stopped work at their computers to take part in an all-hands training session that included a closed-circuit broadcast.

Acting VA Secretary Hershel W. Gober said future evaluations of the department's managers will include a rating of their performance on computer security issues.

"Computer security needs to become embedded" within the VA culture, said Edward F. Meagher, special assistant to Gober for information technology. Meagher is awaiting Senate confirmation on his nomination as VA's deputy assistant secretary for IT.

In September, the department came under fire from the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations after VA's inspector general revealed that hired hackers had accessed the department's systems and viewed sensitive information [see story at].

Meagher said VA intends by January to raise from a D to a B its grade on security programs from the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology. Overall, the government earned a D-minus. Many of the problems cited were cultural in nature [see story at].

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