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Get A Game Plan Louisiana Accountability & Transparency
Commissioner of Administration Outlines IT Improvements to Protect Homeowner Data in the Hazard Mitigation Program

Nov. 14, 2011

BATON ROUGE – Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater today released the results of an internal management review of the state’s information technology procedures for its Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which has resulted in additional training for state and contract employees working on the program and stronger security measures to prevent the unauthorized use of personal information.

Commissioner Rainwater said, “Since the end of August, we’ve done a top-to-bottom review of all internal IT procedures in the Hazard Mitigation program so that we could take steps to better protect sensitive homeowner data. As a result of this review, we’ve conducted additional staff training, further secured the computers used by state and contract employees and limited access to sensitive information.”

Rainwater said, “Our top concern is protecting homeowners and their private data from unauthorized disclosure or access. We are now operating a much more secure program and intend to continually improve and strengthen our internal practices moving forward. The bottom line is that we have no tolerance for corruption or misuse of homeowner data in this program and these new steps will help to root out any possible problems.”

To address issues found in the Quality Control review, program management has:

  • Prevented data from being physically removed from facilities;
  • Required encryption of all laptops;
  • Restricted the Internet access of state and contract employees working in HMGP facilities;
  • Removed the ability for workers to scan files directly to e-mail addresses, instead sending documents to private user folders on a server;
  • Limited the ability of workers to store documents locally on their hard drives and improved internal procedures to upload files directly to the ATS system, as opposed to saving them to a local computer;
  • Standardized security and facility access policies across facilities;
  • Required contract employee passwords to be changed more frequently to meet current standards set by the Office of Information Technology and increased minimum system password length requirements to meet current state standards;
  • Mandated ethics and anti-fraud training for staff’;
  • Strengthened staff confidentiality agreements;
  • Secured wireless networks; and
  • Restricted administrator access to IT systems.

As suggested by the review, the program will complete a quarterly review of its IT procedures to continually assess threats to the security and to better ensure the safety of private homeowner data used by the program.

Homeowners, contractors and program employees can report the unauthorized release of private homeowner data to the HMGP fraud hotline at 1-877-851-9380 or via e-mail at ethics.antifraud@mitigatela.org.

PROGRAM STATISTICS

  • As of November 14, the Disaster Recovery Unit's Hazard Mitigation program has paid more than $353.5 million to 7,400 households.
  • This is in addition to more than $932.2 million in elevation grants paid to more than 32,000 homeowners and more than $131 million in Individual Mitigation Measures grants paid to more than 17,400 homeowners through the Road Home program.
  • Total recovery dollars for mitigation paid directly to homeowners in Louisiana to protect their homes from future damage now tops $1.4 billion.

The Disaster Recovery Unit within the Office of Community Development is dedicated to helping Louisiana's citizens recover from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. As the state's central point for hurricane recovery, the OCD-DRU manages the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history, working closely with local, state and federal partners to ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before.

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