Bedbugs invade file cabinets at SSA offices

SSA buying heat-treatment ovens to deal with pests

If you're not convinced of the value of going paperless, consider this: New York City has a major bedbug infestation, and the pests have spread to the Social Security Administration’s regional offices in Queens, N.Y.

The SSA posted a notice on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site on Aug. 19 that it wants to identify vendors selling a “Bed Bug Heat-Treatment Oven.” The ovens can be used to kill bugs found in small- to medium-sized items.

The biting insects first invaded the SSA’s offices in Queens in December 2009, when the SSA published a notice saying the bugs had infested seven large file cabinets covering five floors of the Jamaica, Queens, building.

Related stories:

Mobile SSA statistics: Agency wants an app for that

SSA teleworkers may be putting personal data at risk, IG says

The current infestation affects “several offices” in the Queens building, an SSA executive said today. He asked not to be identified because he is not an official spokesman. The ovens would be used to treat items from those offices, such as clothing, books, papers, chairs and file cabinets, the executive said.

“The bedbugs have been found in a number of stores and government offices in New York,” the SSA executive said. “We will address it as quickly as we can.”

A call to the SSA public affairs office was not immediately returned.

Bedbugs are parasites feed on human blood that have been making a resurgence worldwide in the last decade as a result of widespread air travel. They typically live within mattresses, bed linens, furniture and clothing, but also can survive in books, papers, luggage and electronic items such as lamps and speakers.

Infestations are typically treated with pesticides and ovens.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Sun, Aug 29, 2010 Lou New York

Using a burner and flame to remove the oxygen from enclosure of file cabinets in plastic will not work. There is still enough oxygen available for the insects. Insects don't breathe like vertebrates and that short time period without oxygen is not enough to asphyxiate them. Oxygen would also seep in over time: it really can't be hermetically sealed.

Fri, Aug 27, 2010

This is insane, I WOULD NOT WANT THIS ON ANYONE, I ended up getting bed bugs in my apartment, i almost lost my girlfriend over it. It is insane, i was so stressed out and going crazy, i only had about 10 they said when they came to treat, but i will not stay at a hotel.

Fri, Aug 27, 2010 Shawn Hendricks

If they are confined to file cabinets, create a sealed enclosure of large plastic bags, sealed to the floor with duct tape if formica or some such air tight surface is in place. If on carpet, you should bag the bottom surface. Place a candle 'cage' or other enclosed burner and light it. Use a burning system that will not melt or burn the bags or other flamable objects. Seal the bags and let it burn until the lack of oxygen snuffs the flame. I would only do this in an area with good ventilation. Repeat a few times over the course of a a week to snuff out the bedbugs as all the oxygen is burned. I would leave the seal in place for a half hour after each burn to give time for the bugs to suffocate. This is a thought exercise rather than a tested or proven technique but it should get rid of any pests. It will knock down adult bedbugs, allowing handling to eliminate any remaining eggs.

Fri, Aug 27, 2010 ss DC region

Read in a major newspaper: most bedbugs are found coming from the New York City Area than any other in the USA, according to pest control company Terminex. Now, still yet another bad thing coming OUT of that city--glad I never lived nor stayed there!

Wed, Aug 25, 2010 Alan Elias California

Using an "oven" to kill bed bugs is the right direction, but not well thought through. If you've found bed bugs in file cabinets or other small places, the chances are EXCELLENT that they're already hiding in cracks, crevices, under carpeting, in electronics, etc. Heat is definitely the correct methodology,but you need to heat the entire structure/series of offices, etc. to kill the bug where you can't see them. Go to for more info. We have highly trained, ThermaPureHeat (the originator!) in New York!

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above