Amador County Computer Policy and Procedures

Summary

The Grand Jury conducted a survey of county departments to determine computer use and perceived needs. It also compared the policies of several outside agencies with the proposed Amador County policy.

To determine how well the Data Processing and Communications Department staffing compared to counties having similar workloads, the Grand Jury reviewed a statewide survey of county data processing departments.

The Grand Jury concluded that there is a need for clear policy on both computer and Internet use. Comparisons with other Counties indicate that Amador’s Data Processing and Communications Department is understaffed.

Findings

  1. A limited search of selected Internet files revealed a pattern of access to lottery and games at one work site.
  2. Majorities of department heads favor a computer and Internet policy. Department heads are evenly divided regarding whether the policies should be by department or countywide.
  3. The Computer Resource Coordinator has prepared a draft computer policy.
  4. A majority of department heads favor standardized office software with accompanying training. Currently, departments select their own office software on a case-by-case basis.
  5. A majority of department heads stated that the Internet must be justified before installing it.
  6. The ratio of data processing workers to computer equipment indicates that Amador County’s data processing personnel’s workload is three times that of workers in other counties.

Conclusions

  1. There is no significant abuse of the Internet.
  2. Strong support exists among department heads for written policies covering computer and Internet use. The proposed draft computer policy needs strengthening in several important areas.
  3. Strong support exists for standard office software and associated training.
  4. Strong support exists for upgrading of hardware and software.
  5. Amador County Data Processing is understaffed.

Recommendations

    1. The County Board of Supervisors adopt the draft policy with these considerations:
    1. provide policy covering Internet use
    2. include a waiver for the employee to sign stating they have read and understand the policy
    3. provide a more definitive statement about disciplinary action for violation of the policy including who is responsible for enforcement
    4. provide for random audits of computer use, who is responsible for auditing, and how often audits are performed
    5. include information regarding the requirements to provide for virus protection of computers
    6. provide guidelines regarding proper hardware and software acquisition procedures
    7. provide information regarding software copyright and licensing agreements
    1. Adopt standard office software and provide appropriate training.
    2. Assign additional personnel to the County Data Processing and Communications Department.
    3. Assign the responsibility for standardization of software, equipment, and computer use to the Data Processing and Communications Department.

Comment Requirements

The Grand Jury requests that the Computer Resource Coordinator respond within 60 days and the Board of Supervisors respond within 90 days from the official filing date of this report as required by Penal Code 933(c).

Authority to Investigate

Penal Code Section 919(c) and 925(a) provides that the Grand Jury may look into the operations of the county.

Because of its deliberations and a vote of at least twelve members as required by Penal Code Section 916 to conduct this investigation, the Grand Jury decided to review the county’s computer policies and use.

Method of Review

Members of the Grand Jury conducted interviews with the following people:

The Grand Jury also:

Background

The Grand Jury reviewed the county’s draft computer policy. The Grand Jury was also interested whether the county has sufficient staffing to address its data processing needs.

The Computer Resources Coordinator supplied a draft policy prepared for consideration by the Board of Supervisors. The Grand Jury obtained policies from several other agencies to compare with this draft policy. Areas of interest were:

As part of its review, the Grand Jury conducted a survey of all county departments to determine how they currently dealt with these issues. The summary results of the survey are in Appendix C.

The survey showed strong support by county department heads for a policy regulating computer use. Eighty-five percent of all county department heads either agreed or strongly agreed that the county needs a computer policy. Ninety-one percent favored a policy regulating Internet use. They were evenly split whether these policies should be countywide or by department.

The survey indicated that there was very little personal software on county computers. However, comments attached to the survey indicated a general lack of understanding about software license agreements.

The Grand Jury reviewed copies of specific Internet files from several county departments. Referred to as cache files, they contain either a sequential history of Internet use or a list of regularly accessed Internet sites. The Grand Jury searched these files for key words that would indicate abuse of the Internet. With the exception of some minor use of the Internet for game playing and lottery results, the search was negative. The search did not indicate if these uses were during work hours.

The Grand Jury surveyed eleven other counties to ascertain if they had computer or Internet policies. Of these, ten either had or were developing policies. Comparing Amador County’s proposed computer policy with those other agencies, the Grand Jury found the policy inadequate in the following areas:

The Grand Jury also did a comparison of the data processing staffing of thirty-nine other counties with information from a 1997 survey. The comparison showed that county data processing personnel are responsible for three times the computer equipment per worker than in counties with similar amounts of equipment.

Supplementary Information

Grand Jury computer user survey

Amador County draft computer policy

Selected computer files from county computers

California Association of County Data Processors Annual Survey, 1997

Computer policies from the following agencies:

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection; the counties of Santa Clara, Fresno, Madera, Lake, Merced, Mendicino, San Joaquin, and Contra Costa counties; and the State of California Internet Usage Policy