The Buzz

Telly guvvies, guns on the Canadian border and e-crimes.

Apparently, British bureaucrats really have it going on. They claim to be the first civil servants in the world to plant a flag on the wildly popular Web video-sharing site YouTube. "It's a groundbreaking move and one other governments might well follow," said Ian Dunmore, director of an independent e-government organization Public Sector Forums, who spoke to Silicon.com for an Aug. 21 story.

Two U.K. public service shorts made their YouTube debuts in August, Transformational Government and Sharing-the Leadership Challenge. The first was pulled after a week by embarrassed officials because posting it violated copyright.

Meanwhile, Sharing-the Leadership Challenge lives on. It had been viewed 3,039 times as of Sept. 8. The video offers vignettes of several programs involving sharing of duties heretofore hoarded by managers, organizations or government itself.

John Barradell, director of community protection for Westminster City, talks about the Civic Watch program, which brings together police, housing and other agencies to "share not only buildings, but staff and information," he says. It also involves sharing decision-making power and authority once held by Barradell. "I'm giving away the levers of my own success," he says.

The video highlights a human resources shared-services operation serving 19 companies that make up Transport for London, which runs all the capital's transportation. Sharing HR services reduced the organization's budget by 20 percent, chiefly through a 30 percent staff cut that eliminated 146 jobs. Another organization moved 500 staffers to the private sector, thereby creating 700 new jobs in its borough.

All 15 comments about the tape are negative. Most denounce it as propaganda. One does laud the soundtrack, if backhandedly: "Love that funky music in the background. Get down, U.K. government.

Under Attack

Government has suffered more from Internet-related crimes than any other industry over the past seven years. The first study of all publicly available Justice Department-prosecuted cybercrimes between March 1999 and February 2006 shows attacks on computer networks cost organizations more than $3 million on average per case. Losses from stolen IDs and passwords far exceeded those from viruses, worms and other methods.

Government Hit Hard

Breakdown of attacks by industry

Government 23%
Retail 22%
Technology 20%
Finance 16%
Communications 8%
Education 4%
Manufacturing 4%
Health Care 2%

Source: Trusted Strategies

ID Theft

  • 88% attacks via users' accounts
  • 9% Did not gain access via users' accounts
  • 3% Unknown

No Guns, No Glory

Ya gotta love Canadians. So polite, so civilized. While the United States sends 6,000 National Guard members to the southern border to round up and fend off illegal immigrants, Canada is just now getting around to arming its border guards. On average, 260,000 travelers enter Canada every day.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Aug. 31 that the 4,400 officers of the Canada Border Services Agency would be given side arms. He also announced plans to add 400 more officers. All 4,800 will get firearms-within the next 10 years. Not until March 2008 will the first 150 armed officers take the field.

And this only after border guards walked off the job 53 times when faced with threats they felt their pepper spray and batons could not surmount. Or so says their union. "We know there is traffic of dangerous individuals and firearms across the border," Harper said, adding that the guards "simply weren't equipped to deal with that kind of threat."

But the plan isn't going down well in a country that has refused to arm officers on the borders for 20 years. "Previous governments have believed the image of Canada would be tarnished by firearms," Steve Pellerin-Fowlie, vice president of the guards' union, told The Washington Post. Official policy has been that guards confronted with armed and dangerous people should call the Mounties for help.

The conservative Harper likely made his move in part to enhance relations with President Bush, whose administration has pressed Canada to harden its border. In the absence of armed Canadian border guards, American Customs and Border Protection officers have had to step in and exchange fire with suspects fleeing north.

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