SmartGov: Gov’t agency spends millions, destroys $170K in hardware to get rid of computer virus
posted at 9:21 pm on July 9, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham
Meet the Economic Development Administration (yes, we have one). It deals with problems in such a level-headed, nimble, and efficient way, I can’t imagine why it hasn’t managed to rebuild our sagging economy:
The Economic Development Administration (EDA) is an agency in the Department of Commerce that promotes economic development in regions of the US suffering slow growth, low employment, and other economic problems. In December 2011, the Department of Homeland Security notified both the EDA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that there was a possible malware infection within the two agencies’ systems.
The NOAA isolated and cleaned up the problem within a few weeks.
The EDA, however, responded by cutting its systems off from the rest of the world—disabling its enterprise e-mail system and leaving its regional offices no way of accessing centrally held databases.
It then recruited an outside security contractor to look for malware and provide assurances that not only were EDA’s systems clean, but also that they were impregnable against malware. The contractor, after some initial false positives, declared the systems largely clean but was unable to provide this guarantee. Malware was found on six systems, but it was easily repaired by reimaging the affected machines.
EDA’s CIO, fearing that the agency was under attack from a nation-state, insisted instead on a policy of physical destruction. The EDA destroyed not only (uninfected) desktop computers but also printers, cameras, keyboards, and even mice. The destruction only stopped—sparing $3 million of equipment—because the agency had run out of money to pay for destroying the hardware.
The total cost to the taxpayer of this incident was $2.7 million: $823,000 went to the security contractor for its investigation and advice, $1,061,000 for the acquisition of temporary infrastructure (requisitioned from the Census Bureau), $4,300 to destroy $170,500 in IT equipment, and $688,000 paid to contractors to assist in development of a long-term response. Full recovery took close to a year.
Is Brick Tamland the CIO at this agency?
Federal News Radio first reported this story on the very day President Obama gave a speech about how the federal government is using technology to make government smart. Super, super smart.
In truth, the federal government is rarely smart, and when it’s really dumb, it often becomes malicious in its attempt to cover its stupidity:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon’s effort to account for tens of thousands of Americans missing in action from foreign wars is so inept, mismanaged and wasteful that it risks descending from “dysfunction to total failure,” according to an internal study suppressed by military officials.
Largely beyond the public spotlight, the decades-old pursuit of bones and other MIA evidence is sluggish, often duplicative and subjected to too little scientific rigor, the report says.
The Associated Press obtained a copy of the internal study after Freedom of Information Act requests for it by others were denied.
The report paints a picture of a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, a military-run group known as JPAC and headed by a two-star general, as woefully inept and even corrupt. The command is digging up too few clues on former battlefields, relying on inaccurate databases and engaging in expensive “boondoggles” in Europe, the study concludes.
No kiddin’. Well, pshaw, POW/MIA is old news kind of stuff. The smart federal government is at least busy taking care of current veterans right now at the VA, right? Wrong.