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Opening Statement of Hon. Harry E. Mitchell, a Representative in Congress from the State of Arizona (Statement for the Record)

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Last week, the Government Accountability Office released their review of the progress made in reorganizing information technology at the VA.

In October 2005, the VA began centralizing its information technology management structure.

Shortly thereafter, in May 2006, a laptop theft from an employee’s home containing personal information brought the importance of this issue to light, and the Department’s mismanagement of the situation showed the urgency of centralization.

The GAO report showed that the Department has not yet implemented full security protocols to protect veterans’ and medical providers’ personal information.

It also highlighted the importance of an implementation team, which has also been previously suggested and ignored by top officials in the Department.

Information security is not an issue that we can take lightly these days.

Securing the personal information of our veterans should be a high priority, and any breach of government security should be taken seriously.

Following the compromised security of information at the VA in May of 2006, officials pledged stronger action, but the security breach this past January shows that they have yet to deliver once again.

Arizona leads the nation in identity theft and this report only further concerns me about security at the VA.

I look forward to hearing how we can work together to address this pressing issue.