GSA's open office layout vulnerable to theft

An after-hours inspection of open office space at the General Services Administration's central office revealed that sensitive information and personal items were readily accessible to thieves, according to a new report.

The unannounced inspection, performed by the GSA Inspector General's Office of Forensic Auditing, Evaluation and Analysis, identified "physical control weaknesses" in the open office area in securing both sensitive information and "highly pilferable government-furnished personal property," the report said.
Inspectors found "numerous incidences" of unsecured items, including personally identifiable information and other sensitive information, an HSPD-12 PIV card, sensitive contract files, architectural drawings marked “Sensitive But Unclassified," and unlocked file cabinets containing sensitive information—as well as "a combination code for a bay of personal lockers that was left directly on top of those lockers, and a door cipher lock combination taped to the back of the door." Other valuable items such as laptops and other electronics also were left unsecured.

A renovation of the office completed in 2013 created an open-space work area that eliminated office suites with locked doors and cubicles in favor of a new layout that uses "open-concept offices" with “hotel desks” that feature personal lockers and locking file cabinets.

"The transition to a more collaborative workspace has increased security risks for vulnerable assets and sensitive information as GSA employees adjust to taking new steps to physically secure property and information in their personal workspaces," the report concluded.

The report recommends that GSA managers and supervisors enforce GSA policies and procedures for the safeguarding of information and property, routinely monitor employees and contractors for security compliance, and assess whether there is sufficient secure storage space available for employees and contractors.

Reader comments

Sun, Mar 29, 2015

What do you expect if you do not issue change management protocol with open office workspaces. You can not operate the same in open spaces like you did in the out dated Dibert world of high panel system furniture.

Mon, Oct 27, 2014

What did GAO expect when they went to the open work space concept? This concept is flawed and this is just one example.

Wed, Oct 22, 2014 Full time teleworker

100 years from now, when virtually everyone is teleworking full time, our descendants will scratch their heads, wondering why on earth we spent billions converting offices with locking doors to these ridiculous open office workspaces. How much extra time does it take each day for "hoteled" employees to set up all their stuff, then lock it away every time they go to a meeting elsewhere, go to lunch, or go home? How much productivity do they lose because they can't concentrate with 50 other employees' phone conversations, cell phone alarms, coughing, etc. distracting them? For those of us who don't need constant interaction with others, or whose colleagues are not located in the same place we are, or who are introverts, open offices are nightmares. And obviously they are unsecure. In the good old days you could just shut your office door. Now thousands of dollars of electronica, PIV cards, etc. have to be constantly monitored. Our jobs have devolved to worshipping our hardware. Sad.

Wed, Oct 22, 2014

Now we will have "The Safeguard Police." One might surmise that managers have more than enough to do beside police their work areas looking for the offenders. This is typical government... don't make individuals responsible for their actions let someone else do it for them. Government has become a joke!

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