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Administrative agency gets $15.7 million to beef up security, oversight

Oregon’s administrative agency is preparing to hire 24 new IT employees and upgrade computer systems, after lawmakers included approximately $15.7 million for the initiatives in the new two-year state budget.

It was a victory for officials at the Department of Administrative Services, which asked the Legislature for $16.9 million to improve management of major IT projects and state cybersecurity, in the wake of several high-profile project failures and data breaches.

The agency could still receive the full amount it originally requested. Matt Shelby, a spokesman for the Department of Administrative Services, said lawmakers asked agency officials to provide an update on their progress during the short legislative session in 2016.

Gov. Kate Brown announced earlier this year that hackers accessed meta data about the movement of information across the state computer network, and attackers also broke into databases at the Secretary of State’s Office and the Oregon Employment Department in 2014.

Twelve new employees will work to fix problems identified in audits of state cyber security and IT operations, which the state has been slow to address. For example, the state has yet to fix some of the vulnerabilities auditors identified at the state data center in 2012. The data center is housed at the Department of Administrative Services, which is the central technology provider for state government and some municipal governments in Oregon.

“That work is going to start soon, as early as August,” Shelby said.

After Brown disclosed the latest data breach in March, she asked the state to hire the independent expert to review management and vulnerabilities at the data center. Spokesman Chris Pair said that review is underway, but the contractor is still working on it. The contractor has finished gathering information on the state’s past and current technology management practices, and is now working on recommendations for the future, Pair said.

Hillary Borrud is a reporter with the Pamplin Media Group/EO Media Group Capital Bureau in Salem.

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