Community Interest

HIGH SPRINGS – On Dec. 11 Eric May of Emerald Data Partners, the company employed by the City of High Springs to provide information technology services, delivered a short summary to city commissioners comparing the outcome of the latest technical audit versus the previous audit received on Jan. 12, 2013.

Every three years, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) conducts a technical audit of local agencies to ensure compliance with the FDLE Criminal Justice User Agreement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Security Policy.

In his summary, May said the 2013 technical audit was “of great concern” as it revealed nine areas of policy violations and 14 more areas of concern. By comparison, the recent November 2014 technical audit revealed zero areas of policy violation and only five areas of concern, one of which has already been addressed.

Violations are areas FDLE considers procedures or policies as non-compliant with CJIS practices. Areas of Concern are areas which, if they aren't addressed, may cause violations in the future, according to May.

May said that last year he had come into the evaluation near the tail end. “Over the last few months we have worked diligently, along with the High Springs Police Department (HSPD), to help ensure the department improves its information security and overall efficiency in its information systems,” said May.

“In October, Lt. Sheppard (Acting Chief) and myself met with an FDLE representative to respond in depth to questions used to conduct a new Technical Audit,” said May. The final results, which were sent to HSPD in November, showed a significantly improved Technical Audit score.

May was reluctant to point out publicly any potential weaknesses in HSPD’s information systems, but those weaknesses and suggested corrective measures were listed in the technical audit. He characterized them as “procedural” and said in a subsequent interview he believed they could all be taken care of within the next 6-8 weeks.

Since the most recent audit, May and HSPD personnel have worked to correct the remaining four areas of concern. During the commission meeting, May was able to say that some of those areas had already been addressed and some would be corrected by other measures which are currently being implemented citywide.

May has been working for the past eight months to improve overall information security throughout the city system. Password strength and other technical changes that have come to their attention through the technical audit have been applied also to the rest of the city system to protect that information as well.

May said that additional costs to High Springs to address the areas of concern would be minimal as some of those items were already built into the other measures HSPD is in the process of implementing.

“I am very happy to see that our police department has made such significant strides in addressing both the violations and concerns expressed by FDLE last January,” said Mayor Sue Weller. “The remaining concerns are in the process of being addressed and we can anticipate they will be resolved shortly as well. This is a step forward for the High Springs Police Department and, I believe, the commissioners were all glad to receive audit results of this kind.”

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