Page 8 - FCW, July 15, 2016
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require VA to
stop using SSNs
As promised earlier this year, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) has intro- duced legislation that would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to stop using veterans’ Social Security numbers as identifiers in its informa- tion systems.
The Veterans’ Identity Theft Protec- tion Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), was drafted in response to the leak of hun- dreds of veterans’ Social Security num-
4,684 personnel were part of Cyber Command’s mission force as of June 10
Watchdogquestions‘aggressive’ FirstNet timeline
Sen.Tammy Baldwin
bers in Wisconsin. “Our veterans should never be put at risk of identity theft with informa- tion that they have entrusted to the VA,”
FirstNet officials say they will meet the deadline and budget goals for the nationwide wireless public safety network, but the Commerce Depart- ment’s Office of Inspector General and the National Governors Associa- tion have raised concerns about the project.
FirstNet, an independent authority within Commerce, submitted a request for proposals in May. The authority plans to choose a vendor in November and deliver final plans for deployment in 2017.
“FirstNet continues to honor our commitment to do what we set out to do on time and under budget,” First- Net CEO Michael Poth said during a Senate Commerce, Science and Trans- portation Committee hearing in June.
However, Andrew Katsaros, Com- merce’s principal assistant IG for audit and evaluation, raised concerns in three main areas — acquisition man- agement, internal controls and con-
sultation with states — and said they could impact what he called FirstNet’s aggressive timeline.
“If these three areas of short- and long-term risk are not addressed between now and the launch in approximately midyear 2018, imple- mentation may not succeed,” Katsaros added.
Jeffrey McLeod, director of the Center for Best Practices’ Homeland Security and Public Safety Division at the National Governors Association, relayed states’ concerns about the network’s ability to provide reliable coverage in rural areas. He also said state officials want more input into FirstNet’s planning.
Poth said some of the states’ con- cerns will influence whichever com- pany FirstNet ultimately chooses and added that vendors understand the importance of operating in urban and rural areas.
— Chase Gunter
Baldwin said in a statement.
The bill would apply to veterans
who submit new benefit claims with- in two years of its enactment, and it would apply to all veterans within five years.
Such a shift is no small task. Since the Vietnam War, the VA has required veterans to provide their Social Secu- rity numbers as a way to identify them.
The department estimated in 2014 that there are 22 million veterans nationwide.
“As you can imagine, a shift like this would be a huge undertaking, so to hear at least encouraging signs from the secretary is helpful,” Bald- win told FCW in March.
The bill does permit an exception if a veteran’s Social Security num- ber is required to access or transfer information from outside the VA’s purview.
8 July 15, 2016 FCW.COM
— Chase Gunter

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