Letters to the Editor
I found the chart titled "Federal Financial Losses From Security Breaches" [FCW May 26 Page 42] very interesting. The legend shows that there were 34 respondents (presumably to a survey) by the Computer Security Institute.
How were they selected? How accurate was the data they provided? Were they in positions where they could actually know or was the data a "best guess"?
With only 34 most likely self-selected respondents the accuracy of any data is highly suspicious. Showing "total losses of $1 599 605" is highly misleading: I'd be suspicious of one significant digit from such a small survey and seven [digits] are meaningless.
Similarly the bar chart seems to indicate a high degree of accuracy in the study results far beyond what is justifiable in an unscientific study. As the old saying goes "There are lies damn lies and statistics." I'm not sure which category this chart falls into.
Jeremy EpsteinDirector Information SecurityCordant Inc.
This is in regard to the May 19 Comment column by Tim Sprehe titled "One-stop shopping for on-line information." He is correct in saying that the needs of users should be taken into account in this new electronic world.
The Government Printing Office currently offers a capability similar to that which Mr. Sprehe feels is needed.
Our agency's Web site GPO Access (www.access.gpo.gov) has a suite of "Pathway" services that provide a centralized point through which users can easily access information and browse the Web by topic agency publication title keyword and agency Government Information Locator System record.
The Pathway services applications are a subset of GPO's overall efforts to make the entire GPO Access service a "one-stop" location for users of federal information on the Internet.
A key component of the Pathway services is "Browse Topics" (www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/dpos/pathbrws.html) which provides topical access to federal government information products. Written abstracts/narratives are included for each topic these identify Web addresses and provide links to information on federal agency sites. Currently there are 114 topics linking GPO Access users to other government sources and Web sites.
We are continuing to enhance and expand the Pathway Browse Topics service by tapping into the pool of skill and knowledge that librarians and other information professionals possess. Numerous volunteers have "adopted" topics or are developing new ones. We see this as an excellent way to develop partnerships with subject specialists within the greater community of federal government information.
GPO is in the process of redesigning the Web page for its GPO Access service to be more intuitive for users who are attempting to locate and use government information products at our site. This is in response to feedback from customers who have contacted the GPO Access User Support Team as well as through focus-group discussions on this subject with federal depository librarians and others. This redesign will make it easier for first-time users of our site - as well as enable those who are already familiar with GPO Access - to quickly and conveniently get to the information that they need with just a few clicks of the mouse.
In particular we plan to utilize user-friendly terminology that will provide a range of alternatives for GPO Access customers to locate government information. We plan to use words such as "Locator Tools" and "Products for Sale" that are generic and meaningful to users beyond the Beltway.
The Federal Depository Library Program operated by GPO has about 1 400 libraries throughout the United States and its territories with at least one in nearly every congressional district. All provide free public access to a wide variety of federal government information in a range of formats and have expert staff available to assist users.
Indeed depository libraries give individuals without access to computers use of the resources available through GPO and its Web site. For more than a century the depository program has served the government and its citizens by providing a network of libraries through which government information is made available without geographic economic or administrative barriers. GPO will continue to fulfill this mission in the Electronic Age.
Wayne KelleySuperintendent of DocumentsGovernment Printing Office