Audit Advises DHE to Ensure Employees Receive Cybersecurity Training

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BOSTON — the Office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump (OSA) released an audit of the Department of Higher Education (DHE), which identified that DHE did not ensure all employees responsible for managing and administering Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Funds, completed annual cybersecurity awareness training. 
 
Additionally, the audit found DHE did not meet annually with the Commonwealth Commitment Advisory Board (CCAB) to review key aspects of the MassTransfer Commonwealth Commitment program. Some areas required to review include cost structures, operations, accreditation and licensure-related issues. As a result of not meeting annually DHE did not provide follow-up reports or communications to the Board of Higher Education (BHE) regarding CCAB's review of the MassTransfer program.
 
"DHE did a number of things correctly, including updating their internal control plan (ICP) to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as completing proper paperwork to receive and administer GEER funding. However, without proper cybersecurity practices in place, DHE's work can be at risk," said State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump. "Additionally, it is troublesome that DHE did not ensure that the CCAB met, at least annually, to review the MassTransfer Commonwealth Commitment program. Any changes in critical components, especially in regard to state funding availability, call for an annual meeting to occur."
 
The audit recommends that DHE develop internal controls to ensure that all employees complete the required training annually. Additionally, DHE should designate a department or individual to be responsible for overseeing the assignment and completion of required training. DHE should meet with CCAB at least annually to review the MassTransfer Commonwealth Commitment Program and make recommendations about its improvement to BHE.
 
According to its website at www.mass.gov, DHE "is the staff to the 13-member Board of Higher Education (BHE), responsible for executing the Board's policies and day-to-day operations." DHE was created by Section 6 of Chapter 15A of the General Laws and is headed by a commissioner. DHE had 67 employees and a budget of $5,186,847 in fiscal year 2021.
 
The audit can be viewed here.
 

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City of Pittsfield Enacts Water Usage Restrictions

PITTSFIELD, Mass.  – With a fast-increasing depletion of the water supply at the Pittsfield Cleveland Reservoir, the city of Pittsfield’s Department of Public Services and Utilities has enacted a State of Water Supply Conservation to ensure an adequate supply of water for fire protection and emergency response effective Monday, Aug. 8.
 
The action, which falls under the city’s Stage 2 Drought Management Plan, implements mandatory water restrictions.
 
Restricted activities include outside water use in general, watering lawns and  gardens, washing vehicles, and filling swimming pools. These activities are only permitted before 7  a.m. and after 7 p.m. and are limited to alternate days. Addresses ending in even numbers may water on even days of the month. Addresses ending in odd numbers may water on odd days of the month.
 
These  restrictions will be enforced by the Department of Public Services and Utilities and will include fines for violations. These include a written warning for the first violation; a $50 fine for the second violation; and $300 for subsequent violations.
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