Letters to the Editor

Why bother with diploma mills?

GCN showed courage publishing revealing stories on the diploma mills and their effect on government and the private sector.

It would appear fault rests in job requirements statements. They should include the phrase 'from an accredited university or college.'

If people are competent and have the abilities to perform their work in a professional manner, why would they lean on an institution that is void of acceptable national standards? They can take courses to expand their knowledge at universities that have adhered to the standards set by professional accrediting organizations.

This raises the issue of credit for life experience, which has been found to raise grades for students at an accredited university. Often they can pass a supervised comprehensive test for credit.

This would place them on a par with students who attended a semester of classes.
I will be interested to see if the Homeland Security Department assembles a national panel to address this serious ethics situation. And the next question is how soon it can publish guidelines.

Jerry J. Field


Editor's note: The writer teaches management and marketing at Illinois Institute of Technology.

Local IT weaknesses show up everywhere

I saw John McCormick's recent column on IT security, 'Peer-to-peer networking doesn't keep out spam' and had to respond.

The lack of concern or knowledge of IT in emergency management is not just a Pennsylvania issue. From what I see, we have similar problems across the United States.

Many small, local governments rely on volunteer or part-time, often untrained, IT workers. I've seen lots of networks maintained by deputy sheriffs. Where there is truly professional IT support, it frequently comes from local vendors who aren't aware of the security issues, or who don't keep the systems updated with security patches because there's no money.

The Center for Public Technology, part of the School of Government at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, was created a few years ago to provide technical assistance to city and county organizations to improve their use of IT.

For the past year, we've had a team of local IT professionals from around the state working to identify security best practices.

It's important to understand that IT security is just part of a comprehensive security program for any jurisdiction. Such programs should also include operational, physical and disaster planning.

Because most local governments are creatures of the state and have many systems that connect back to other levels of government, this planning should be coordinated to make sure there are no weak links in the networks.

We're beginning to roll out training and technical support to other jurisdictions in North Carolina, and are working to identify funding to develop a training and technical assistance planning model that can be replicated in other states.

Thanks for raising the issue'hope we can get awareness raised as well.

Tom Foss
Technical Assistance Manager

Center for Public Technology

University of North Carolina

Chapel Hill, N.C.

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