I have been debating with myself as to which concerns should be included in the top ten priorities for the next presidential administration to focus on, to have our country directed on a winning path for everyone. For me, the issues of improving cyber security standards; implementing major infra-structure updates; and passing sensible gun control measures are all, equally serious priorities. So cyber security and infrastructure issues will be designated as my 6th, and 7th policy wish and my next policy blog will cover the subject of gun control.
On April 14, 2016, SecurityScorecard published a report card on the state of US. cyber security capabilities by Dustin Volz, which just highlights the necessity for making this a top level priority. Here are some excerpts:
“U.S. federal, state and local government agencies rank in last place in cyber security when compared against 17 major private industries, including transportation, retail and healthcare, according to a new report released Thursday (4/14/16).”
“The analysis, from venture-backed security risk benchmarking startup SecurityScorecard, measured the relative security health of government and industries across 10 categories, including vulnerability to malware infections, exposure rates of passwords and susceptibility to social engineering, such as an employee using corporate account information on a public social network.”
“Government agencies have struggled for years to keep pace with malicious hackers and insider threats, a challenge that came into focus after it was disclosed last year that more than 21 million individuals had their sensitive data pilfered during a breach at the Office of Personnel Management.”35 major data breaches across government from April 2015 to April 2016.”
“President Barack Obama has made improving cyber defenses a top priority of his remaining year in office. His administration asked Congress to dedicate $19 billion to cyber security in its fiscal 2017 budget proposal, which would include $3.1 billion for technology modernization at various federal agencies.”
“Federal agencies scored most poorly on network security, software patching flaws and malware, according to SecurityScorecard, which said they may be more vulnerable to risk due to their large size.”
“Of the 600 government entities tracked, NASA performed the worst. Another “ low-performing government organizations included the U.S. Department of State.”
My premise is that a major plan is long past due to upgrade our roads, bridges, ports, etc. ASCE, American Society of Civil Engineers has published their 2013/ 2014/ infrastructure report cards and for both years we earned a GPA of D+. The fact that we have not made the requisite investment to update our infrastructure to be competitive with the rest of the world for the past 8 years while interest rates have been so low and while the workforce could have benefited with great paying jobs, borders on criminal neglect. For a little more in taxes while interest rates were low, the return on this type of investment would have paid back big dividends in the future.
Excerpts from the ASCE, American Society of Civil Engineers infrastructure reports are as follows: “The American Society of Civil Engineers is committed to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public, and as such, is equally committed to improving the nation’s public infrastructure.”
“We know that investing in infrastructure is essential to support healthy, vibrant communities. Infrastructure is also critical for long-term economic growth, increasing GDP, employment, household income, and exports. The reverse is also true – without prioritizing our nation’s infrastructure needs, deteriorating conditions can become a drag on the economy.”
The 2014 grades for various categories are as follows: Dams-D; Drinking water-D; Hazardous waste- D; Levees-D; Solid waste-B; Waste water-D; Aviation D; Bridges-C+; Inland waterways D-; Ports-C; Roads-D; Rail-C+; Transit D; Public Parks and Recreation-C-; Schools-D; Energy-D+. The republican conservatives’ “No New Tax” dogma under any and all circumstance does not make sense when U.S infrastructure investment is required to remain competitive with the rest of the world.
For me, one of the first two infrastructure projects should be to insure that the immediate replacement of all the aging pipes which have been leaching lead into the drinking waters in Flint, Michigan be completed asap, with no further bureaucratic delays. The second would be the updating of the levees and the waterways in southern Louisiana. Both projects are absolutely critical but have been avoided as our U.S congress plays “ostrich” on issues like “climate change.”
Apparently, it is more important for our legislators to play the games of finger pointing, scapegoating and developing the latest talking points instead of figuring out how to divert funds to fix these two major infrastructure debacles. This is while thousands of tax paying citizens are suffering from devastating losses. Sensible folks know that government is necessary to deal with these issues, but we want government to also be effective, responsive to the taxpayers, productive and accountable.
Dear U.S. Congress, We expect you to be productive on behalf of your taxpayers. If you are still wondering why Americans are so angry, look no further than your inadequacy in preventing the harm and heartache caused by the current Louisiana floods and the numerous children being poisoned by lead in their water in Flint, MI.
NOTE: While our president was on a well deserved August 2016 vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, southern Louisiana was experiencing floods equaling the worst U.S. natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy. After the Louisiana governor publicly stated his strong preference for President Obama to wait a few days to visit, so that essential services would not be diverted to accommodate the president’s arrival, he could have done something. Even though, it’s been publicly announced that he will be touring the flooded areas on Tuesday, 8/23/16 (a few days late), he should have taken time out from vacation for a news event to comfort the flood victims with words of reassurance, such as, he will be doing everything possible to assist them; that he and the American peoples are disheartened at the news of this tragedy; that he would be visiting shortly; and by instructing folks where and what, they could donate to do the most good.
FACT SHEET: Cybersecurity National Action Plan | whitehouse.gov https://www.whitehouse.gov/…/fact-sheet-cybersecurity-national-action-p…White House Feb 9, 2016 – The Federal Government has made significant progress in improving its cybersecurity capabilities, but more work remains. To expand on that …
The Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative | The White House https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/…/cybersecurity/national-initiative/ White House To improve public understanding of Federal efforts, the Cybersecurity … network defenders across the U.S. Government, … security professionals …