I ran into a great one today that I just had to share.
I write software (as you probably know) and have to deal with the security ramifications of collecting and storing Personally Identifiable Information (PII). In general terms, this is any piece of information that can be used in combination with other bits of data to uniquely identify an individual. Things like driver’s license number, credit card numbers, date of birth, place of birth, etc…
We have one customer, yes, a government agency that will remain nameless to protect myself, that has been holding up a fairly large project for nearly a year over security concerns about PII data. In an attempt to relieve their concerns and get work moving again a meeting was scheduled and airline tickets purchased. The project manager for this customer then sends out an email requesting all participants to EMAIL their full name, driver’s license number, state of issuance, and date of birth so he can SCHEDULE A CONFERENCE ROOM!!!!
They are concerned about how this type of data is encrypted in the database, where the database server is located in their internal network, how the system users are authenticated, and how the data is transferred over a secure socket layer but they want me to EMAIL my PII information over the Internet in clear text.
I kid you not.
I honestly do not know what to make of this. Perhaps it is simply government stupidity.
Why would ANYONE require the driver’s license number of a meeting participant to schedule the use of a room? Keep in mind I am not the meeting organizer nor I am requesting any special equipment – just a participant. It is no wonder that our government requires a massive number of staff to accomplish absolutely nothing. Can you imagine trying to accomplish so much NOTHING with just a few people? It is simply not possible. To create the MASSIVE vacuum and drain that has been achieved requires nearly unimaginable resources.
Believe it or not, I theorized and we actually had a meeting to discuss the possibility that this was a test. A calculated move on the customers part to see how secure of an organization we actually are and an attempt to gain insight into our product. We decided no – not possible as the government is simply not smart enough to think of such a thing. You see it? Yes, this is an example of the vacuum and waste that government is. They caused us to stop productive work and waste nearly a dozen man hours debating how to approach their absolute lack of intelligence. Imagine what the government is causing on a national scale. Of the millions of man-hours of possible labor each day, they must be wasting an unbelievable number of these.
This got me to thinking….
I found a census site that documents the number of government employees (2009 – http://www2.census.gov/govs/apes/09fedfun.pdf and http://www2.census.gov/govs/apes/09stus.txt). The numbers are staggering. Just over TWO and HALF MILLION federal employees and nearly FOUR AND HALF MILLION state and local government employees. That’s a grand total of just a hair under SEVEN MILLION employees. GULP!! Total pay of nearly – forget it, you don’t want to know! I’ll bet these numbers are far from all inclusive.
So, number of full-time equivalent employees times 1920 (man-hours in a year) equals roughly 13.4 BILLION man-hours per year. WOW!!!
Certainly some of those people are doing something useful so for the sake of discussion, let’s say half of them actually do something, half of the time. I understand, many will not like my assumptions. If that is the case, I’d suggest you watch some government workers work for a while, I guarantee you will be surprised (and angry). Yes, yes, I know there are a few of you that really work and I apologize for stereotyping you but I bet you agree that my assumptions are not that inaccurate!
So, of the available pool of man-hours (13.4 billion) us taxpayers are getting roughly 3.3 billion man-hours of labor. Of that labor, how much of it is like what I describe above – an actual vacuum that sucks productivity from the private sector? I can only guess based on my experience but I will say half of it. So, based on all that our HALF TRILLION dollars of payroll is buying us taxpayers about 1.5 billion man-hours of labor that is not COSTING the private sector. That comes out at about $333 per hour.
WOWZERS!! What a deal for us! The government is doing such a fine job, let’s ask them to do MORE – hire more people to do it – raise my taxes, please!!