USPS execs fret over IT

Corporate executives worry about their information systems responsibilities under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and U.S. Postal Service executives are no exception, said Robert Otto, chief technology officer at USPS.

Otto said the agency will release a solicitation related to Sarbanes-Oxley sometime in the next week or two. The act is a top priority for USPS executives, he said. "We will comply with it."

Speaking at an Industry Advisory Council luncheon in Washington, D.C., this week, Otto said the agency's other information technology priorities are improving information systems and network security, achieving Section 508 compliance and hiring a younger generation of employees.

Otto said IT security vendors have an opportunity to advise USPS officials on how they can improve their information systems and network security. When a serious virus or worm attack hits USPS, Otto said, "it costs me $1 million to clean up -- every time."

Otto also said that compliance with the law requiring federal IT systems to be accessible to people with disabilities is another top priority for USPS officials. "You have an obligation to make your software Section 508-compliant," he told the audience of IT industry officials.

For the agency's future, Otto said, nothing is more important than hiring a new generation of employees who know and care, for example, about how software applications are built. Otto said he knows the types of employees he is not seeking, and he described them: "They put in their time, but they want to do other things."

Otto said the agency made a good investment when it bought 2,500 Automated Postal Centers last year and installed them nationwide. USPS officials are preparing to order and install about 2,500 more, he said. The self-service centers are open 24 hours a day for people who want to buy stamps and other postal products.

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