A little known but catastrophic power outage hit the MSPB staff on June 30, 2015. Recently made public, the details are in an October 2015 consultant’s report. This report is now prompting a series of reforms to the federal employee complaint adjudication agency’s in-house electronic records system.
“The catastrophic failure of the entire virtual environment on June 30, 2015, a key component to the e-Adjudication strategy, and the resulting loss of data, configuration and confidence to the user community has halted much of the e-Adjudication strategy in the near term”. This statement, written by IT auditors in the Cask LLC report, assessed MSPB’s Information Resource Management team’s efforts to move to a paperless system.
Consultants interviewed staff and analyzed the agency’s IT infrastructure and operational procedures, making 42 specific goals and recommendations. These include:
- Guest wi-fi access point was tied into the headquarters production network, “allowing anyone with the proper tools on their laptop to get an accurate map of all devices on the network, opening the organization for further malicious intrusions”.
- Basic system and network security practices were not implemented “leaving the organization open to multiple vulnerabilities”. The report noted that MSPB has no safeguards in place to prevent an unauthorized user from plugging into the network.
- Operational processes went undocumented leaving the infrastructure vulnerable to failures. “A lack of documentation and independent configuration backups prior to the virtual environment failure set back the implementation several months”.
- Analysts found that key network security and processes weren’t in place. There were “significant technical obstacles” that warranted outside professional services.
The MSPB needs to find the funding for a third-party IT services provider and increase its help desk hours. “Some users got into the habit of bypassing the help desk and calling technicians directly. However, this is not the best practice and reduces visibility across the enterprise”. The report went on to say, “Upon consideration of all the organizational, process and technology assessment observations, we conclude that although there are significant obstacles, with sufficient resourcing, IRM can meet the clear majority of e-Adjudication goals.”
At the present time, the acting Chief Technology officer William Spencer said the MSPB has completed 60 percent of the report recommendations. “We continue to follow up on the remaining recommendations. Some of those require a substantial effort like updating our core business applications”. They are actively trying to improve and stabilize the reliability of their IT environment. Also, they want to modernize core business applications and migrate their data center to the cloud.
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