Letters to the editor

GCN survey points to troubling disconnect

In a recent GCN phone survey of federal IT managers [GCN, May 2, Page 24] only one-third of federal IT managers responded that spyware and phishing were a major concern, and less that half responded that viruses and hackers were a major concern. The survey results are both informative and troubling.

The FISMA grades reflect an insecure federal computer security environment, yet the survey shows that federal managers are confident in their computer security and are not concerned about emerging cyberthreats such as spam, spyware and phishing. This disconnect between the FISMA grades and the federal managers' beliefs is something the Committee on Government Reform will examine further.

Emerging cyberthreats such as spam, phishing and spyware pose security risks to federal information systems. The Government Accountability Office is currently performing work for the committee on these emerging threats facing federal agencies and whether agencies have fully addressed these risks as part of their agencywide information security programs. The committee looks forward to examining the results of the GAO study to find more ways to improve federal information security.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.)


Committee on Government Reform

Make broadband a modern day utility

Regarding your (March 21) story, 'Philadelphia Free-for-All' and CIO Dianah Neff, I say, 'Go Dianah! Go!' It's interesting that we have the government revolting against private business. That's a switch!

But we are in need of a telecommunications revolution in this nation. It's about time someone stepped up to the plate and recognized that ubiquitous, affordable Internet access is not an option for municipal growth and that governments have the right but also the duty to ensure that an affordable product is available.

The Regional Bell Operating Companies are a creation of a piece of legislation birthed in 1934 and only updated in the past 20 years. The original universal service model of dense urban areas funding rural areas is rapidly becoming obsolete and the entire machine that governs the operation of local telecommunications service is in bad need of repair.

While the government has no right to mandate sole use of their network, they have every right to build and offer all their citizens a low-cost service.

Pennsylvania has deeper problems in many rural townships where there is no broadband access available for schools and they are forced to use dial-up. Almost 5 percent of Pennsylvania public schools are in this situation. The RBOCs rightly won't spend the bucks to deliver broadband to these areas because the market doesn't have a payback.

But they cannot have their cake and eat it too. If they won't provide true universal and affordable broadband to all areas of the state, then they shouldn't also have the right to adversely select cash cow areas like Philadelphia for their wrath against the government for stepping up to the plate and providing service. What they are really afraid of is complete bypass via voice over IP.

Universal broadband Internet access is a necessity for millennial learning and participation in the digital economy. All public schools and constituents should have this type of service available by any number of means. Just as Samuel Insull rethought the private electric company model and defined the rules for the modern utility, we are going to have to rethink the interplay between private telecommunications and government.

Paul Van Hoesen


Adept Consulting Technology Group Inc.

Nashville, Tenn.

Reader address: pvanhoesen@hotmail.com

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