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House to probe government IT contracts

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By Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon is urging his colleagues to look into the nature, status and security of information or databases generated by contracts entered into by government agencies with information technology companies.

Ruffy Biazon (FACEBOOK/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Ruffy Biazon (FACEBOOK/ MANILA BULLETIN)

He cited reports that at the expiration of their contracts, some government agencies were either not provided with the information or databases gathered by IT companies that they hired, or they may have been provided with such but these IT companies were also allowed to retain copies of such information or databases.

“One example of this situation is the recent reports that the previous contractor for passports hired by the Department of Foreign Affairs did not turn over the data of passport holders after the termination of its contract with the department,” Biazon said in filing House Resolution 2408.

He recalled that the Land Transportation Office was also saddled with a similar problem in the past where its contract with an IT company had a provision allowing the company to retain ownership of computer equipment that virtually made the LTO captive since the agency cannot even access its own database without having to first pass through the IT company.

“Apparently, there are no existing standards or guidelines governing the provisions of these contracts entered into between government agencies and IT companies with regard to the turn-over procedure of collected data or program source codes,” Biazon said.

He expressed serious concern that the retention of data by government-hired IT companies with expired or terminated contracts may compromise the security and privacy of such data. He also took note that the retention of program source codes by these IT companies may impede the continuity of operation and development of the agency’s IT programs and systems.

“The government is at clear disadvantage in these kinds of scenarios and adverse effects may be experienced by the general populace with regard to the delivery of services by these particular agencies,” he said.

“In the interest and welfare of the general public and for a more efficient delivery of services by government agencies, there really is an urgent need to delve deeper and investigate these matters in order to constructively address the issue and prevent future data loss or privacy breaches from happening,” Biazon said.

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