Site Map - Government

Contracting Computer Troubles

- Security is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain, so even organizations with the most well-thought-out security programs can be jeopardized if their partners' security practices are lax. This is true of the Department of Defense as well its Defense Security Service, which monitors the information-security programs of more than 11,000 contractors, "cannot identify systemic vulnerabilities and make corrective changes to reduce the risk of information compromise" from contractors. The GAO report, which includes Haave's response, is at SM Online

Did You Know That?

- Safety regulations. Small businesses often struggle with understanding them. Now they can get free on-site health and safety consultations from state governments. Participant companies' names are kept anonymous. In addition, any unsafe conditions found during a consultation will not automatically be reported. The program may even exempt businesses from general scheduled OSHA inspections for one year. @ Go to SM Online to learn more about this free service.


- The FDA announces a final rule for procedures on administrative detention of food.

A Plan for Powering Up Processors

- While today's microprocessors are vastly more powerful than those of even a few years ago, there are some computing challenges that make even the fastest computer seem like the 1950s' Univac. Many of these challenges are related to national security issues such as weapon system simulations and processing of satellite images. The government's reliance on clusters of commercial-off-the-shelf components falls far short of solving these security issues.

Bottom Phishing

- For almost two years, Zachary Keith Hill collected dozens of credit card and bank account numbers, which he milked for more than $47,000. After a joint investigation by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, Hill agreed this spring to plead guilty to the phishing scam in which he sent e-mails to AOL customers purporting to be from an "AOL Billing Specialist." The messages directed customers to a realistic Web site where unwary visitors were asked for credit card, bank account, and password information. Hill is now awaiting sentencing, which could include as much as 15 years of jail time.

Drug testing

- In a recent Federal employees and applicants for certain jobs in the government may be asked to provide sweat, saliva, and hair for drug testing. A new rule proposed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration would allow testing of sweat, saliva, and hair for signs of drug use. The rule has been proposed, according to the agency, to allow for more accurate testing, because urine tests can be circumvented.

Data Diamonds Not Gathering Dust

- Privacy advocates are fighting a losing battle when it comes to the practice of private companies collecting personal information about customers. That's because technology makes it cheap and easy and marketing makes it profitable. And the terrorist threat makes that information valuable to the government as well. A report by the Department of Defense's Technology and Privacy Advisory Committee, which addresses privacy in the age of terrorism, can be reached via SM Online.

Airport screeners

- The TSA has issued guidelines to help airports determine whether to revert to private screeners.

Did You Know That?

- In its ongoing effort to design an animal identification system that will trace all animals and premises potentially exposed to a foreign animal disease within 48 hours, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is implementing an interim solution that will record locations where animals reside or will reside. USDA will be awarding almost $12 million to implement the system.

Port security.

- A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO)--formerly the General Accounting Office--concludes that the Coast Guard's plan to review all vessel security plans has faced numerous challenges and should be updated. As of the beginning of June, the report notes, the Coast Guard had reviewed only half of the 6,400 vessel plans submitted by the July 1 deadline set out in federal law.

Airport screeners.

- The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued guidelines for airports to use in deciding whether to retain federal screeners or return to the use of private screening companies. Under laws passed after September 11, as of November 19, 2004, airports may start applying for the right to use contract security services.

Food Safety

- A final rule issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would allow the agency to detain food if it has credible evidence or information that the substance may cause serious health problems or death to humans or animals.

Medical Examiners

- Lots of agencies and departments call themselves "the last line of defense" against terrorism, but, at least with respect to biological and chemical terrorism, perhaps medical examiners and coroners have the most legitimate claim to that title. They are the last people to examine a body for signs of terrorist traces before evidence is buried or destroyed. With that in mind, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has drafted a report providing coroners and medical examiners with information required to build their capacity for biological terrorism preparedness for the benefit of public health.

Beyond Print

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