City internal investigation into IT department proves no breach

Published: February 26, 2014, 7:17 pm, by Monica Mendoza

An internal investigation into the Colorado Springs Information Technology department has shown there was no breach of city data, the city’s Chief of Staff Laura Neumann said.

“There is no evidence of data theft,” she said Monday.

City Council members were alerted to the issue in a Jan. 27 email that simply said 10 city employees had been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. Council was never told who the employees were or in which department they worked.

At that time, Neumann would not confirm or deny the investigation saying it was a “personnel issue.”

Rumors swirled about a security breach. Neumann confirmed there was an internal investigation Feb. 18, but she said the rumors of personal data gone missing were incorrect.

“Any statement regarding knowledge of the theft of personal data for any number of people is not accurate,” she said. “The City is investigating a potential IT security incident and gathering the relevant facts.  The nature and extent of the potential incident is precisely why we have professionals looking into the matter as we speak.”

Nuemann said that the city takes all IT security threats, small and large, seriously. “And we are looking closely at the City’s IT network and the resources needed to help protect it,” she said.

While there is no data theft, eight of the 10 IT employees are still on administrative leave and have been offered “reduction in force packages” including deputy chief information officer Jesse James, Neumann confirmed.

“He is considering a package,” she said.

James has 21 days to consider the package, as “his would be considered a resignation by himself.”

The other seven employees have 45 days to consider their packages because those “were a result of an act of their employer — through a reduction in force,” she said.

If the employees accept the package, they would be required to sign an “non-disclosure/disparagement” agreement, and would not be able to speak publicly about their dismissal.

In October, the city announced that it would outsource nine positions from its IT department. The cuts were part of the 2014 proposed general operating budget and the city’s Information Technology strategic plan.

The plan calls for outsourcing work in the city’s data center, data administration and help desk.