Set-Asides

Y2K worker deficit feared

Federal agencies are concerned that a shortage of skilled labor and competition from the private sector will hamper efforts to fix Year 2000 computer problems, according to the General Accounting Office.

Of the 24 large agencies, 13 have expressed concerns about the availability of information technology personnel, the difficulty in recruiting and retaining internal staff often wooed by the private sector and the rising cost of contractor help. GAO also reported that 10 of the 41 small and independent federal agencies expressed similar concerns.

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FMS slapped on security

Weak computer controls at the Financial Management Service put "billions of dollars of payments and collections at risk of fraud,'' the General Accounting Office reported last month. Among its criticisms, GAO said the agency did not immediately remove the user IDs of fired employees, gave programmers access to data they did not need and did not have adequate procedures for authorizing changes to software. The report said FMS should develop an agencywide program.

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EPIC sees liberties threat

The recommendations of a presidential commission for protecting the computer systems that support the nation's vital infrastructures would lead to civil liberty violations, according to a privacy think tank.

In a report released last month, the Electronic Privacy Information Center asserts that the expanded role of the Defense Department and the FBI to ward off perceived information warfare threats to the nation's infrastructures would infringe upon civil liberties, such as freedom of speech, privacy protections and the Freedom of Information Act.

Wayne Madsen, senior fellow at EPIC and author of the report, noted that the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies would have their roles expanded from collecting international intelligence data to focusing efforts on domestic computer security.

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