Senator: Keep women out of combat

January 30, 2013 

Senator urges state to intervene to keep women out of combat

State Sen. Danny Verdin, R-Laurens, introduced a resolution in the Senate Tuesday urging lawmakers “to take whatever action is necessary” to prevent women from being placed in military combat roles.

Women already are finding themselves in the line of fire, but not by assignment or directive, Verdin said.

The bill is a joint resolution and does not carry any force. It is in response to U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifting the ban on women in combat roles.

Jamie Self

Longtime state education finance chief retires

The S.C. Senate on Tuesday honored John Cooley, retiring deputy superintendent and chief financial officer for the S.C. Department of Education.

Cooley, who retires Jan. 31, has worked for the Education Department for 27 years.

State Sen. Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, said Cooley is “the most knowledgeable person” in the state on the topic of public education.

“On the topic of school funding, there are only about five people in the state who understand it,” said State Sen. Wes Hayes, R-York. “I’m not one of them, you are. Don’t go too far, we may need you.”

Jamie Self

Expert to begin evaluating S.C. computer security systems

A three-year effort to evaluate and upgrade computer security systems at state agencies should begin in March, state officials said Tuesday.

The yet-to-be hired contractor will be asked to start with three agencies and issue recommendations by May 1, including cost estimates, State Budget and Control Board director Marcia Adams told the agency’s oversight board. The report would come in time for budget discussions in the Senate.

Adams said her agency was collecting proposals and hoped to hire a contractor March 5.

That would be nearly six months after a cyber-thief stole unencrypted personal and financial data of millions of taxpayers from the state Department of Revenue computer servers. The state hired Mandiant, a Virginia-based information security firm, to immediately address the issues at that agency.

Gov. Nikki Haley said the consultant was needed to help officials upgrade data security across state government.

“I’m very happy with the progress made,” Haley, chairwoman of the five-member budget board, said after the meeting. “This is going to be something ongoing.”

Senate Finance chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, a board member, made clear the recommendations would be followed.

“Whatever comes out, the agencies will do it. They won’t have the ability to say, ‘No,’” he said.

The contractor will evaluate 18 agencies over three years, but the goal for May is to determine the most immediate security vulnerabilities, Adams said.

Her agency had help writing the request for expertise. Last month, the budget board approved hiring a consultant to help with the search. Cedric Bennett, former information security director at Stanford University, was awarded that $6,000 contract Dec. 20. He’ll continue to help through the hiring process.

The consultant being hired will help the state centralize data security responsibilities. Currently, each agency develops its own computer security standards.

Inspector General Patrick Maley has said the current decentralized model is a recipe for disaster, and residents won’t tolerate another security disaster.

The Associated Press

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