The recent loss of data from the Veterans Administration highlites the need to know who has what data, and what they're doing with it. The VA has thus far handled this event wonderfully, and as a Veteran from a family of Veterans, I am pleased that they're doing what they have to in regards to the lost data.
But there is one thing that worries me, and I think now is as good a time as any to address it. Public outcry and the media frenzy created by sensationalism is going to cost this employee their job. I am pretty positive that the VA will look at the circumstances, correlate facts, and then fire the employee.
Assuming the facts we have to date are accurate, that would be short-sighted and wrong. Your average employees do not take work home with them, only the motivated employees do. Generally speaking, your best employees. And firing them for doing so is sending a message that will ripple throughout both public and private sectors: "Take work home with you, and we will fire you."
That is not the message we want to send. And it's certainly not the message the VA should seek. They are understaffed and overworked already, cutting out unpaid overtime would be a calamity for them.
It would be different if there was any belief that there was malice on the part of the employee, but all that we've heard to date says there was not. So instead of kneeling at the altar of media sensationalism and scraping to public emotional reaction, I hope the VA confronts the system that allowed this volume of data to make it out of the building without red flags going up. I'd like to see the mandatory reprimand and some serious work in the Database Extrusion Prevention space to insure that no other well-meaning employee can put Veteran's Identity at stake.
Of course, the VA is a government agency and because of that will likely bow to public pressure. But that's not all bad news. If you've got a position open, I know of someone who will likely bust their tail for you that might be looking for a job soon.
But I hope not.