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VVA Testimony


            
IMMEDIATE RELEASE





Press Release

June 29, 2006

No. 06-21



Contact:
Mokie Porter

(301) 585-4000 Ext. 146

Recovery of Missing Laptop
Does Not Affect Basis of VVA Lawsuit



(Washington, D.C.) – “We are pleased and relieved that the authorities have finally recovered the missing VA laptop and external hard drive,” said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America.  “This does not, however, obviate the crisis of confidence in the security of veterans’ personal data and contact information as managed by the VA. 

“Nor does it negate the basis of the lawsuit filed on behalf of veterans in Federal District Court in Washington.  The lawsuit, in which VVA is lead plaintiff, is about the egregious violation of the Privacy Act caused by the cavalier attitude of an entrenched bureaucracy at the VA that has put veterans’ information at risk,” Rowan said. 

“The VA’s handling of this unfortunate theft exposes the very real need for major reform in how records with personal information are handled and secured, and VVA intends to pursue with vigor legal remedies to insure that such a situation cannot occur again.   

“While we applaud Chairman Buyer’s suggestion that the VA’s IT chief be elevated to the status of an under secretary, we don’t believe this goes far enough.  Elevating the VA’s IT chief is a step in the right direction, but a new title with more authority is no solution to problems that have festered for years.  We think the Secretary and the VA need expert help looking out for veterans and not just trying to protect the VA.  We will encourage the courts to oversee the VA’s IT affairs and to approve the VA’s actions until the court is satisfied the VA can and will insure real cyber-security,” Rowan said. 

“We also want answers to the questions we have posed to Secretary Nicholson and his senior staff:  For what purpose, and on what legal basis, were these data collected in the first place?  How did the VA gain access to this data?  What other data on veterans have the VA—and  other federal agencies—gathered?   

“Until we get satisfactory answers and are satisfied something like this won’t occur again at the VA, we intend to pursue all legal means available to us,” Rowan concluded.
                          

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Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

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