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NATCA President Forrey: FAA Security Breach Inexcusable, Preventable - (2/10/2009)

CONTACT: Doug Church, 301-346-8245

WASHINGTON – NATCA President Patrick Forrey issued the following statement today in response to the news Monday that hackers got into the Federal Aviation Administration’s server last week and accessed personal data from 45,000 FAA employees, including names and Social Security numbers.

“News of the security breach is bad enough. It’s a sickening feeling for FAA employees that we represent; employees who have suffered mightily under this rogue FAA management team for many years now. What’s worse is that this breach was preventable. The FAA was reckless and negligent in the creation of its electronic personnel file system and then showed a blatant disregard for its employees’ interests by refusing to listen to our concerns about the security of the electronic information or meet with NATCA to bargain over the impact and implementation of electronic security and files.

“Beginning three years ago, NATCA filed numerous requests for briefing and bargaining on this issue. We held deep concerns and we wanted to discuss them with the FAA. As usual, the agency ignored many of our requests and, on the others, told us to go take a hike.

“Furthermore, in 2005, we brought up the issue of data security during our controller contract negotiations with the FAA. We specifically proposed at the table a contract article that stated, ‘The agency shall protect all bargaining unit employees and their data from becoming victims of identity theft and criminal mischief.’ The FAA responded by saying that language was non-negotiable, believing that they didn’t have to entertain that proposal.

“This is typical of the arrogance and lack of collaboration the agency has shown toward its employees. The FAA waited an entire week before notifying the unions that its members’ personal information had been breached by a hacker. This is indicative of the manner in which the FAA treats its employees. The agency has excluded controllers on NextGen and modernization projects and now finds itself holding full responsibility for the continued breakdowns in progress and the inevitable cost overruns that will result. Same goes for this security matter.

“Bottom line: the senior executives and managers responsible for these critical systems should be fired. The FAA needs to demonstrate some level of commitment in order to regain the trust of its employees who rightly feel violated and now have been placed in extreme vulnerability to identity theft and financial harm. Apologies and explanations from the agency aren’t going to cut it. NATCA members are outraged and demand some accountability for these preventable mistakes that have now led to this serious security breach.” 

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