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San Diego City Clerk attacked in re-tweet

VA San Diego doctors accidentally overpaid?

Elizabeth Maland on San Diego City Clerk’s Twitter: “Since the original Retweet, I have had several conversations with the City’s CyberSecurity group, and they have made me aware that the word ‘hacked’ has a very specific usage, and that it is unlikely that that is what occurred in this instance.”
Elizabeth Maland on San Diego City Clerk’s Twitter: “Since the original Retweet, I have had several conversations with the City’s CyberSecurity group, and they have made me aware that the word ‘hacked’ has a very specific usage, and that it is unlikely that that is what occurred in this instance.”

Incompetence, not hackers, to blame?

Elizabeth Maland quickly deleted what someone Retweeted.

It’s been a tough year for San Diego city clerk Elizabeth Maland on the computer front. As revealed here on June 14, a legal disagreement between the clerk’s office and longtime campaign finance data vendor Netfile ended with threats by the city and an abrupt switch to a new provider known as Pasadena Consulting. The public was not notified of the impending move; nor was it warned of what turned out to be a less than seamless transition. “If you do not comply with the terms of the contract as confirmed by the Office of the City Attorney and continue service until April 30, 2021, we would have no other recourse [than] to proceed with further legal action for breach of contract,” emailed the clerk’s data chief Diana Fuentes to Netfile’s Tom Diebert on March 15. Wrote Diebert: “We discovered that we have invested almost $500k in the current lobbyist platform since 2014 and have recouped less than 20% of that investment since then. As you can see, continuing forward with such a system is bad business (significantly worse than I actually was aware of prior to starting this process).”

Now the problem facing Maland is Twitter. “As you know, my team and I were devastated by the recent unauthorized Retweet of political material from my Twitter account,” said the clerk in an August 26 statement posted on Twitter without further details about the nature of the offending message. “When the unauthorized Retweet first surfaced, my team and I immediately assumed we had been hacked. This was our conclusion since we have the department policy prohibiting Retweets mentioned above, and there are only three authorized users of Twitter in the department and none of us had purposely Retweeted it. So we used the word ‘hacked’ to reflect an unauthorized use of the department’s Twitter account. Since the original Retweet, I have had several conversations with the City’s CyberSecurity group, and they have made me aware that the word ‘hacked’ has a very specific usage, and that it is unlikely that that is what occurred in this instance.”

What really happened? Maland’s statement said she couldn’t know for certain. “It appears that due to the fact that we deleted the unauthorized Retweet immediately upon being made aware of it on Saturday, that the history of this Retweet is not immediately available. The City’s CyberSecurity team will continue to try to get to the bottom of this, but these subject-matter experts believe the most realistic scenario is that the unauthorized Retweet occurred in error.” Explained the clerk, “One of the three of us who are authorized users of the department’s Twitter account had Twitter active as background on our phone. Since we are a Twitter account that Tweets out information related to government and elections, we receive ‘Recommended For You’ [notifications] from Twitter that cut across a variety of political views. It appears that the unauthorized Retweet popped up as a Recommended For You Tweet, and was accidentally Retweeted.”

VA’s overpaid docs

VA San Diego Healthcare System gets a worrisome checkup.

According to a newly released federal audit, part-time doctors at the Veterans Administration have been getting overpaid due to sloppy bookkeeping. And, adds the report, San Diego harbors at least one bad example of the costly practice. “An anesthesiologist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System signed an agreement specifying 1300 annual hours of work from October 14, 2018, through October 12, 2019,” relates the July 1 report from the VA’s Office of Inspector General, known as OIG. “The OIG determined that the physician was overpaid approximately $11,000 because he worked 1230 hours, which was 70 hours shy of the 1300 hours he was paid for in accordance with his agreement.” Per the audit, VA “service chiefs and certifying officials did not take sufficient actions to ensure physicians recorded their hours worked and their leave taken in the time and attendance system.” The document adds that, nationwide, “based on incomplete timesheets identified in the sample review of agreements, the OIG estimated that about 330 of 1400 agreements (22 percent) could not be reconciled when they expired or were terminated because physicians did not record all their time.”

The total hit to taxpayers was sizable. “VHA medical facilities incurred approximately $8.3 million in questioned costs during calendar year 2019, consisting of approximately $1 million in overpayments, $3.4 million in underpayments, and $3.9 million in unsupported payments and unpaid hours for physicians that worked above the 1820 hour cap because the physicians’ agreements were not properly reconciled. The OIG estimated that VHA incurred an additional $8.3 million in questioned costs during calendar year 2020 because VHA had not taken steps to ensure management controls over the physicians’ salary payments were in place and operating as intended.”

— Matt Potter (@sdmattpotter)

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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Elizabeth Maland on San Diego City Clerk’s Twitter: “Since the original Retweet, I have had several conversations with the City’s CyberSecurity group, and they have made me aware that the word ‘hacked’ has a very specific usage, and that it is unlikely that that is what occurred in this instance.”
Elizabeth Maland on San Diego City Clerk’s Twitter: “Since the original Retweet, I have had several conversations with the City’s CyberSecurity group, and they have made me aware that the word ‘hacked’ has a very specific usage, and that it is unlikely that that is what occurred in this instance.”

Incompetence, not hackers, to blame?

Elizabeth Maland quickly deleted what someone Retweeted.

It’s been a tough year for San Diego city clerk Elizabeth Maland on the computer front. As revealed here on June 14, a legal disagreement between the clerk’s office and longtime campaign finance data vendor Netfile ended with threats by the city and an abrupt switch to a new provider known as Pasadena Consulting. The public was not notified of the impending move; nor was it warned of what turned out to be a less than seamless transition. “If you do not comply with the terms of the contract as confirmed by the Office of the City Attorney and continue service until April 30, 2021, we would have no other recourse [than] to proceed with further legal action for breach of contract,” emailed the clerk’s data chief Diana Fuentes to Netfile’s Tom Diebert on March 15. Wrote Diebert: “We discovered that we have invested almost $500k in the current lobbyist platform since 2014 and have recouped less than 20% of that investment since then. As you can see, continuing forward with such a system is bad business (significantly worse than I actually was aware of prior to starting this process).”

Now the problem facing Maland is Twitter. “As you know, my team and I were devastated by the recent unauthorized Retweet of political material from my Twitter account,” said the clerk in an August 26 statement posted on Twitter without further details about the nature of the offending message. “When the unauthorized Retweet first surfaced, my team and I immediately assumed we had been hacked. This was our conclusion since we have the department policy prohibiting Retweets mentioned above, and there are only three authorized users of Twitter in the department and none of us had purposely Retweeted it. So we used the word ‘hacked’ to reflect an unauthorized use of the department’s Twitter account. Since the original Retweet, I have had several conversations with the City’s CyberSecurity group, and they have made me aware that the word ‘hacked’ has a very specific usage, and that it is unlikely that that is what occurred in this instance.”

What really happened? Maland’s statement said she couldn’t know for certain. “It appears that due to the fact that we deleted the unauthorized Retweet immediately upon being made aware of it on Saturday, that the history of this Retweet is not immediately available. The City’s CyberSecurity team will continue to try to get to the bottom of this, but these subject-matter experts believe the most realistic scenario is that the unauthorized Retweet occurred in error.” Explained the clerk, “One of the three of us who are authorized users of the department’s Twitter account had Twitter active as background on our phone. Since we are a Twitter account that Tweets out information related to government and elections, we receive ‘Recommended For You’ [notifications] from Twitter that cut across a variety of political views. It appears that the unauthorized Retweet popped up as a Recommended For You Tweet, and was accidentally Retweeted.”

VA’s overpaid docs

VA San Diego Healthcare System gets a worrisome checkup.

According to a newly released federal audit, part-time doctors at the Veterans Administration have been getting overpaid due to sloppy bookkeeping. And, adds the report, San Diego harbors at least one bad example of the costly practice. “An anesthesiologist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System signed an agreement specifying 1300 annual hours of work from October 14, 2018, through October 12, 2019,” relates the July 1 report from the VA’s Office of Inspector General, known as OIG. “The OIG determined that the physician was overpaid approximately $11,000 because he worked 1230 hours, which was 70 hours shy of the 1300 hours he was paid for in accordance with his agreement.” Per the audit, VA “service chiefs and certifying officials did not take sufficient actions to ensure physicians recorded their hours worked and their leave taken in the time and attendance system.” The document adds that, nationwide, “based on incomplete timesheets identified in the sample review of agreements, the OIG estimated that about 330 of 1400 agreements (22 percent) could not be reconciled when they expired or were terminated because physicians did not record all their time.”

The total hit to taxpayers was sizable. “VHA medical facilities incurred approximately $8.3 million in questioned costs during calendar year 2019, consisting of approximately $1 million in overpayments, $3.4 million in underpayments, and $3.9 million in unsupported payments and unpaid hours for physicians that worked above the 1820 hour cap because the physicians’ agreements were not properly reconciled. The OIG estimated that VHA incurred an additional $8.3 million in questioned costs during calendar year 2020 because VHA had not taken steps to ensure management controls over the physicians’ salary payments were in place and operating as intended.”

— Matt Potter (@sdmattpotter)

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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