Trusted at Treasury

Don Hagerling doesn't wear a uniform. His basement office at the Treasury

Department is nonthreatening — no cameras, monitors or metal detectors,

not even a sign-in sheet for visitors.

But don't be deceived. Hagerling is Treasury's top cop — the program

manager for information systems security. He's in charge of making sure

the systems are buttoned down tight at the U.S. Customs Service; the Bureau

of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the Internal Revenue Service; the Secret

Service; the U.S. Mint and every other wing of the vast monetary operation

known as Treasury.

Although Treasury has not been hit with hacker- generated viruses such as

the "love bug," Hagerling knows that any computer system can be hacked,

even here, where the sophisticated computer systems are self- contained

and reputedly impenetrable. He also knows that a "trusted security system"

is the kind that works. That means you're sure beyond a doubt who you are

communicating with and can protect the connection if necessary.

Hagerling, 48, said security is achieved at the expense of utility. If you

hook more computers together to make the network more powerful, security

gets weaker. "The only reason all the computers in the world don't go down

at the same time is that we haven't hooked them all together," he said.

So at Treasury, "We have a clearly defined security parameter and DMZ."

Hagerling, who spent 26 years in the Navy, has specialized in security for

most of his career.

In the 1980s, he was technical director for several command center systems,

including the Global Decision Support System for the Military Airlift Command.

This system gave the commander real-time visibility of his aircraft and

cargoes without waiting for reports. In fact, it eliminated the need for


In the 1990s, Vice Adm. Jerry Tuttle brought Hagerling to the Navy staff

to run the Navy's computer security program.

Hagerling has done all of this while fighting a debilitating illness. A

rare skeletal disease has spread bone spurs throughout his body, often causing

severe pain. Misdiagnosed and treated with steroids by military doctors,

he is now suffering from diabetes, a failing pancreas and end-stage kidney


Hagerling credits Treasury chief information officer James Flyzik with

making it possible for him to work, finding an office accessible to his

electric scooter, supplying a refrigerator to store his insulin, getting

him a parking space with easy access to an elevator and allowing him to

telework from home when his body is wracked with pain.

"I am very fortunate to have an individual with the credentials of Don on

my staff," Flyzik said. "I turn to him for advice on many critical technology

issues. In many ways, he is a true hero — overcoming physical limitations

to achieve goals that are important to Treasury and the entire nation."

Hagerling's health problems have not stopped him from getting out in

the world to share his expertise. At the recent GovTech conference in Washington,

D.C., for instance, he stood before an audience and used slides to discuss

approaches to security.

He is always working on new ideas. "You don't eliminate risk; you reduce

risk to acceptable levels," he said. "Anybody who thinks we're totally secure

is foolish, and I don't believe I'm foolish."


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